Rosh HaShanah Rock Anthem

This is way too good not to share!

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Highlights of the Week

Well, I’m continuing my tradition of writing a weekly blog post on the plane.  It has been a great week.  There is too much to say and I’ve waited too long into the flight to write much, but here are some highlights:

I am a big fan of Southwest, it’s service, and it’s rewards program.  I plan (hopefully) to continue to fly on Southwest as long as it is convenient.

I do not recommend staying at the Doubletree near the French Quarter in New Orleans.  I do recommend staying at the Hilton in Baton Rouge.  The people there are very friendly.

I spend the week in a mix of shadowing people in meetings with doctors, working out of a hotel room, working out of our Baton Rouge office, sitting in on other meetings, etc.  I am getting much more comfortable with reaching out to providers and actually know answers to questions, though I still have a lot to learn.

Next week it looks like I will be back in Louisiana.  I will probably work out of the Baton Rouge office on Tuesday, visit providers on Wednesday and Thursday, and fly back to St. Louis on Friday.  These will be my first solo visits!  I need to review some things but I hope I’m ready!  I’ll be responsible for outreach to Rural Health Clinics.  I spent some time this week developing a list of providers to visit.  Tomorrow I’ll try to plot out what those visits look like and figure out travel.

I really like my co-workers!  It’s a great group of people working in Louisiana.  We spent several evenings together and most of that time was spent laughing,  I hope that feeling continues and we continue to spend time together outside of the office.  I firmly believe that also helps us in the office.

We went to some regional restaurants and enjoyed the food.

Today, we had a meeting that lasted two hours, but I learned a lot.  I also knew some answers to questions J.  For the first time, I gave out business cards and have follow-up to do – it’s like I’m a real, contributing person now!

This afternoon, we got together at house of one of the few members of our team who is actually from Louisiana.  It was quite nice and we enjoyed lunch together.  I had to leave for a flight, but many of the others stayed to play golf.

Tomorrow I’ll be in the office, but I am leaving early to head to Atlanta for my friend Josh’s wedding.  Josh and I studied abroad in Israel together and I am quite excited!  I know his fiancé, Sarah, as well and they are great together.  The weekend will fly by (and it will be like I was never in St. Louis).  Nevertheless, I’m very excited!

Looking to the Future as I Finish Winter Quarter

I am currently in the middle of my final exams for Winter Quarter.  As finals end and I head home to St. Louis this weekend, I am going to be spending time with my family – the most important people in my life – and positioning myself to make some big decisions for the future.  I thought this would be an appropriate time to share one of my favorite pictures that has been taken of me.

This picture is of me hiking the mountains above Eilat in Southern Israel.  It really embodies who I am in terms of the future opportunities the picture represents and even what I am wearing – a shirt from Boy Scout camp, a water bottle from the University of Denver, etc.

Winter Trip 2010: Post #5

Currently, I am sitting in David Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel-Aviv waiting for my flight through Berlin to London. 

Last night I slept in Jerusalem at the Romm’s.  The past two days have flown by.  And I was basically flying – as in the weather has been crazy all over Israel.  The storms and huge wind gusts were especially bad in Tel-Aviv and worse where I was staying near the Mediterranean Sea.  I would have ended up in the road one time if a light pole had not gotten in my way.  The past two days in Tel-Aviv were really good, but went by quickly.  I also could have done more if the weather had cooperated.  Oh well, Israel needs the rain.

Sunday

I left for Tel-Aviv and made my way to my hostel (including navigating through Tel-Aviv’s crazy complex central bus station).  I was staying at Hayarkon 48 Hostel, one block from the beach.  I met a guy from Sweden in the hostel and he came with me as we tried to make it to the Eretz Yisrael Museum.  On the way, we went by the beach to look at the huge waves and see the damage.  After getting to the museum, we tried to make it between buildings without getting destroyed by the weather.  It was more difficult than it sounds.  Back at the hostel, I met another guy from Sweden and a guy from Canada.  We went across the street to a building/mall with restaurants and a cinema.  On the way across the street, we got completely soaked and I have been at least damp since then.  We ate dinner, with a good special from Burger Ranch, and then saw Eat Pray Love – a good movie.  Now I think I need to find the word of who I am… (see the movie).  Back at the hostel, I met a number of people with whom I discussed Israel, the weather, Tel-Aviv clubs, World War II, and other random topics.  I had wanted to go out and do something exciting, but the weather basically prevented that from happening.

Monday

I woke up early (i.e. before my alarm) and then waited for a few other people to wake up.  I ate breakfast in the hostel while talking to some people from Germany.  I then went with the two Swedish guys to the Diaspora Museum.  We took a cab because it was raining and on the way, I had a conversation with the driver in Hebrew!  He said my Hebrew was good, but I know the truth.  It was fun anyway.  The museum was very interesting recounting the history of Jewish exile and return to Israel.  We then went to lunch in a cafeteria in Tel-Aviv University (the museum was on the university campus).  The two Swedish guys went back to the hostel and I went to the Palmach Museum where I waited for Ella and then we went on a tour.  It was a Hebrew tour so we had English audio guides.  The museum is rather untraditional – more of an interactive theatre experience.  Very interesting.  After the museum, we went to the hostel to get my bags and then to the bus station and I returned to Jerusalem. 

I had hoped to see more in Tel-Aviv but the weather did not cooperate.  I planned on walking up the beach and visiting the flea market in Yaffo (Jaffa), perhaps visiting some small museums, and checking out Disengoff I spent the night at the Romm’s.

Tuesday – Part 1

Today, I got up early and got ready for my flight.  I then went to the Fuschberg Center, where Rabbi Romm works.  I was to get picked up there by a sheirut, a shared taxi.  While I waited, I walked around the center of Jerusalem.  I visited Ben Yehuda Street and read historical markers on buildings.  I then said goodbye to Rabbi Romm (The Romms are my adopted family in Israel.  I will miss them all very much.) and got on the sheirut.  We picked several other people up in Jerusalem and drove to the airport.  On the way we seemed to be following much of the security wall around the West Bank and I saw several check points.  There were two other people on the sheirut who had the same flight as me so when we got to the airport, I waited with them since we were two early to check in, after going through the first security.  I am now checked in and have eaten lunch.  My flight to Berlin has already been delayed twice though.  I hope not to miss my flight from Berlin to London.  My layover was not very long to begin with.  My luggage is tagged to go on without me picking it up.  I still have to get my boarding pass though since they could not check me in in Tel-Aviv.

Israel has been a great experience.  I knew it would be, however much I worried at the beginning of my trip.  These two weeks have flown by and I hope to return soon.  I now look forward to the next leg of my trip – a week in Europe.

Winter Trip 2010: Post #4

There is a lot to update here.  The past (almost) week has been busy and a lot of fun.  I’ve really been enjoying myself.  Right now, there is a major storm in Israel with high winds and rain.  It seems that winter has finally arrived (very late and after a long drought) and did so almost over night.

Tuesday

Tuesday I woke up in Jerusalem and then got on a bus to Be’er Sheva. (I feel like I did something in the morning that I cannot currently remember.)  While waiting for the bus , I met some Israeli kids who started asking me about American movies.  It was pretty amusing.  After getting to Be’er Sheva, I met my friend Ella (from Denver and on the Overseas Program at BGU) and we caught up.  I went to a class with her on collective memory and then we went to dinner at a new shwarma/falafel place nearby.  After dinner, we went to a Chanukah Party held by the Overseas Student Program where we lit candles, sang songs, ate food, played dreidle, etc.  After the party I moved my bags into a room in the dorms that they had arranged for me and then went to meet Na’ama who was a counselor on my USY program when I was in Israel in 2005.  We had 5.5 years of catching up to do.

Wednesday

My 23rd Birthday!  It was a good one.  In the morning, I went and saw Ora, my Hebrew teacher from my time at BGU.  I then went to a class with Ella on Talmud stories in which we discussed Chanukah.  Then, we went to lunch at Lemongrass, a Kosher Chinese food restaurant on campus.  After lunch, I checked a few emails and then in the afternoon we explored the Old City of Be’er Sheva and went grocery shopping.  We made latkes (from scratch) and had them with animal shaped shnitzel for dinner.  It was not fancy, but was great fun – especially when this nice lady argued with the person at the checkout to give us a sale price on the shnitzel.  It was a good dinner next to the menorah for the last night of Chanukah.  After dinner, I walked to the BIG and ONE Plaza, malls in Be’er Sheva to explore and then came back to meet Ella.  We had pie and then went out to some of the pubs around campus for a little while.

Thursday

Thursday morning Ella and I went to the Beduin Shuk where we explored everything we didn’t need.  When she left for class, I walked over to the regular shuk and explored there as well as the Canyon HaNegev (The Negev Mall – Be’er Sheva’s big indoor mall).  I then met Ella for lunch and we got bagel toast.  After lunch, I explored the university – they made several changes.  I went back to the Old City and went to The Negev Museum, which I figured was about the desert.  Indeed, that was not the case.  Rather it was a small art museum, but the people were extraordinarilly nice.  I got frozen yogurt at Glida Be’er Sheva and headed back to the university.  I left Ella and went with Inbal, who was the dorms counselor when Iwas at Ben-Gurion.  She now works for Ayalim and I went with her as she showed a potential donor some of the villages in Be’er Sheva.  I saw areas of the city I never knew existed.  She then bought a sofa chair from some guy on the side of the street (pretty awesome) and we went to Ashalim, where she lives in a student village in the middle of the desert.  We made dinner, she showed me around, and I met some pretty cool people.

Friday

We woke up pretty early and explored a bit more.  Inbal then brought me to the bus station in Be’er Sheva and I fought the madness of tons of soldiers to force my way onto a bus to Jerusalem.  On the way back to Be’er Sheva, we passed several Beduin villages and I saw horses, camels, donkeys, and sheep.  Once in Jerusalem, I made my way to French Hill and the Romms where I relaxed, tried to catch up on email, and helped get ready for Shabbat (including making challah!).  We went to some great Kabbalat Shabbat services, came back to a good dinner, talked, and went to bed.

Saturday

We went to services in the morning and then returned to the apartment for lunch.  There is always so much food!  After lunch, we chatted, I read The Jerusalem Post, and took a nap.  When Shabbat was over, the computers came out for a bit and I tried to make some plans for Tel-Aviv.  We then picked up Dvora and Yair from his parents house.  I went along for the ride and had never realized how large Jerusalem really was.  My experiences seem to have always been limited to a few areas of the city.  When we got back, the table was set for a big dinner and apparently it was to celebrate my birthday all together!  They had even made a cake!  I was surprised and very happy.  We talked for a while and went to bed.

Winter Trip 2010: Post #3

I feel like I am settling in now to my trip.  It has now been one week since I arrived and I am enjoying myself.  I still find some of the uncertainties to be stressful, but I have been fortunate in that I have connected or reconnected with people who have certainly helped me out.

I was having a lot of trouble sleeping almost every night.  Last night, I finally slept well and hopefully that will continue from here on out.  I also had several days of bus troubles that I will share below.

I stood at The Heritage House, a Jewish youth hostel in the Old City (although, I was probably the youngest person there and several of the people had been there for months) Friday night and Saturday night.  It was a nice place, but loud at night (especially with the guy under me snoring extremely loudly.  Last night and tonight I am spending with the Romm’s in French Hill.  They are some of the nicest people I know and I have very lucky to have been invited to stay with them.

Tomorrow I head to Be’er Sheva.  I’ll be back in Jerusalem for Shabbat and then after Shabbat, I plan to head to Tel-Aviv for a few days until I fly to London.

Below is a summary of the past several days:

Friday

Friday I woke up at the Romm’s and was going to go to the Bible Lands Museum.  I was told to take a bus from a nearby stop, but the bus wasn’t available there so I asked around and found out from a nearby hotel that the bus didn’t come there so I would have to transfer buses.  I did not think I would have time to do so and visit the museum before heading back to get my bag and head to the hostel in the Old City for Jerusalem so I just went back to the Romms.  I thought I would leave and head to the Shuk before going to the hostel, but had to wait for the third bus (about an hour) because buses were full, did not stop, etc.

When I made it to the Old City, I checked into the hostel and got ready for Shabbat.  We lit Chanukah and Shabbat candles before heading to the Kotel (Western Wall) for Kabbalat Shabbat.  I prayed and danced (which was a lot of fun) there with a group from a yeshiva and a few soldiers.  Then I got set up for a dinner with a family in Mea Shearim (known as one of the most “traditional” super religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem.  I had dinner with a Breslav Hassidic family which was a lot of fun and quite the experience.

Saturday

I woke up later Saturday after having difficulty sleeping and went to the Kotel for a little bit.  I then got set up with a family for lunch.  We waited until it was time to go and then went to an apartment inside the Old City itself for lunch with a Rabbi and his family.  It was a good experience.  After lunch, I walked around the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel a bit before going back to The Heritage House for an early dinner and speaker.  We then lit Chanukah candles and I walked around the Jewish Quarter again to see all of the menorahs everywhere.  I also walked around Mamilla, a newly built upscale mall, right outside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City.  I met a guy from Brazil who joined me for the meals and we walked around together.  I also met people from Singapore, France, Argentina, England, etc.

Sunday

I got up super early (before 5:00 a.m.) and walked to the David Citadel Hotel to meet a tour group that I had signed up for to Beit She’an and the Golan Heights.  We got picked up late (typical Israeli) and taken to Tel-Aviv where we met another bus and our guide.  We went to Beit She’an a huge Roman city that had been excavated in Israel.  We then drove through the Galilee into the Golan Heights and went to an overlook of the Kineret (Sea of the Galilee).  Later we went to an overlook on a mountain of the Syrian, Lebanese, and Israeli borders and talked about the area, its history, and its importance.  We ate lunch there.  We then went to Katzrin where we walked around an excavated city from Talmudic periods which was followed by a drive around the modern city of Katzrin, when of course, our bus started problems.  We went to an olive oil factory (very popular in the Golan) and learned about the process of making olive oil and other fun things.  I finally made it back (via rented bus) to Jerusalem around 9:30 p.m. and stayed with the Romm’s.  A good, although long, day.

Today/Monday

I finally slept last night!  I got up later and went to the Bible Lands Museum where I saw archeological objects from 4400+ years ago and newer objects!  It was really cool.  I wasn’t there for a full two hours, but definitely worth it.  I went then to the Old City for a Free Tour that was three hours long and covered all four quarters: Armenian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian.  There was a lot I had not seen or learned about before (with a little repeat).  It was very good.  I also had my first frozen yogurt on this trip (frozen fruit with yogurt = tasty).  I then went to the Mahane Yehuda Market (shuk) and walked around and got shwarma for dinner (they also gave me a falafel).  I bought a pita with spices and pinapple and mint juice – an interesting mix that turned out to be very good.  After the Shuk, I went to the Fuschberg Center for Conservative Judaism where Rabbi Romm was teaching a class on Chanukah.  Now I am back at the Romms.  Another good day.

Winter Trip 2010: Post #2

Here is an update of the past few days:

Wednesday

I went to the Israel Museum.  It had been closed when I was in Israel in 2005 and 2008 and they just reopened it.  It’s amazing.  I was there for 4+ hours and could have stayed longer.  I went through the exhibits (Jewish Life, Fine Art, Dead Sea Scrolls, Map of Second Temple Jerusalem, etc.) and took a tour of the archeology exhibit before going back through to see a few parts.  From there I took a bus (and met the volunteer coordinator for the museum at the station who explained to me how bus transfers work) to the Central Bus Station to try to find out about some tours, with no luck.  I got my first falafel of the trip and then took a bus to the Old City to find out about possible tours.  I walked around a bit and went to the Western Wall for a quick prayer and to put a note in the wall.  I then got lost (of course) and followed some guys who were studying a Jewish text who said they were going to one place but went to another.  Eventually I made it back.  After navigating my way back to the apartment I was staying at, I got ready for the evening’s wedding.

I spend the night at Dvora (who I had met in 2008) and Yair’s (who I met last night) wedding.  It was amazing and beautiful.  It was held at Shoresh, a Moshav about 20 minutes outside of Jerusalem.  It was a great night.  There was a reception (with lots of food), candle lighting (it was the first night of Chanukah), the chupah (wedding ceremony), dinner, dancing, more food, dancing, desert, dancing, etc.  The chupah was outside and it was a great night for it.  There was more food than I could have imagined and the bride and groom looked beautiful.  Of course, I forgot my camera, but I am sure there will be pictures posted.

Today

I woke up a bit later since we went to bed so late after the wedding.  I met up with Rabbi Romm.  I had thought it would be just for a few hours, but I ended up spending the day with his family.  We went back to Shoresh to pick up Yair and Dvora who spent the night there.  I also got to admire the great views and scenery of the Jerusalem hills.  I spent the day catching up, hanging out, seeing the neighborhood, etc.  It went fast and has been a lot of fun.  I am spending the night here.

—–

Other notes:

  • There is a huge fire going on in Northern Israel with over 40 people who died when their bus caught on fire.  Read about it.
  • Tomorrow I may go to the Bible Lands Museum and perhaps look around the shuk (market) before going to the Old City (I will be staying in a hostel there for the next several nights) to get ready for Shabbat.
  • I like Chanukah in Israel.  There are candleabras on lightpoles all over the city.
  • I booked a tour for Sunday to Beit Shean and the Golan Heights.  I wanted to go and my time ability and plans have changed from my original idea.  This tour should be really good, it’s just expensive.

Winter Trip 2010: Post #1

I am currently sitting on a couch in an apartment in Jerusalem!  It’s been two years since I could say that.  I am very happy to be back.

I just got into Israel this afternoon (it is about 10:30 p.m. now.  Below is a basic outline of what’s happened so far:

  • I got to the St. Louis airport, later than planned of course, around 12:00 p.m. Monday.  I avoided the full body scanner and went through a metal detector while a Catholic Priest was being frisked in the line next to me.
  • I got into Philadelphia a bit early and did some last minute emails and phone calls.  In the middle of it, everyone in the gate area for the upcoming Israel flight was asked to leave so security could get it ready for the flight.  When I went back, they had put up a seperate wall.  We all had to go through a second line of bag screening and metal detectors to go to Israel.
  • My flight to Israel was long, but quite nice.  I sat by some interesting people, slept a bit, read, and watched two movies.  I was able to get Kosher meals, even though I had not requested them in advance.
  • I went through passport control, retrieved my bags from baggage claim, and tried to rent a cell phone.  Apparently you can no longer rent cell phones in Ben-Gurion Airport.  I wish I had known about that change in advance.
  • I took the train from the airport to Tel-Aviv Haganah train station.  In the station I tried to rent a phone, no luck.
  • I walked to the Tel-Aviv bus station down the street to catch a bus to Jerusalem.  I also tried to rent a phone there.  With no luck again, I bought a go phone.
  • I experienced the Tel-Aviv/Jerusalem evening traffic.
  • I went through the bus station in Jerusalem and got a bus to French Hill.  The bus was very busy.
  • In French Hill, I met the family I am spending the night with, had dinner, walked the dog, etc.

Tomorrow I plan to go to the newly renovated Israel Museum and who knows what else.  In the evening, I go to a wedding outside of Jerusalem and it is also the first night of Chanukah.  I’m excited!

Hopefully, I will be able to solidify more plans tomorrow.  I don’t know how often (or detailed) I will be writing, but there should be an update here in a few days or this weekend at the latest.

Repost of the “Right Time”

I am finally making plans for my trip to Israel and England this Winter Break.  It is unlike me to have bought a plane ticket without solid plans, but I did so as to not pay double the price.  Now, I am in contact with friends to develop my plan.  I came across the following post on my Facebook profile.  I got home from studying abroad on December 26, 2008.  I wrote the post on December 28, 2008.  As I think about where I am going to be in Israel, this post certainly brings back memories.

I am hoping for a great trip, without the worries this post describes.  Hopefully, new memories will be made and I can rekindle old friendships.

Coming Home at the Right Time or the Wrong Time?

by Joel Portman on Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 12:51pm

I got home from Israel on December 26. On December 27 Israel launched a retaliatory operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip for its rocket bombardments against Israeli citizens, including 80 rockets in one day. Hamas’ rockets can now reach Be’er Sheva, the city I was in.

Here is an email I got on the security situation from the Director of the Overseas Student Program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev where I was studying:

Dear Students,
The semester is over and some of you have left Israel, others are still here for a while. As you probably have heard, a little more than 24 hours ago the Israeli Airforce began its bombardment of the Gaza strip. This is the first phase of a military operation that is intended to restore normalcy to the Jewish towns that are adjacent to the Gaza Strip. As I write this, casualties on the Palestinian side are upwards of 230, the vast majority of which are men in uniform. On the Israeli side there has been one casualty in Netivot and 4 injured there. There is no indication at this time as to the extent of this operation. The range of Hamas rocket attacks have expanded their range to include areas that have previously been unaffected: Towns of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Rahat and as of this morning Beer-Sheva too, are now in the Home Front Command “at risk” category. This is not a cause for extra or new alarm, but for those of you who are still in Israel it requires the following awareness and know-how: If you can plan to be elsewhere in the country for the upcoming week (Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv or their suburbs) it is advised. If you are in Beer-Sheva or any of the other abovementioned towns and you hear a waving siren or a “code red” (“Tzeva Adom”) or big explosion search out and enter the nearest designated sheltered area (a “miklat” or “mamad” or “ezor mugan”). Most likely everyone around you will be hurrying to these locations. In their absence, go to internal rooms with fewer windows or staircases. Do not stay in a bathroom when a siren is heard. After five minutes it is permitted to leave the protective areas if no other instructions were given. To those of you who are still here I suggest all to get familiar with the instructions posted (in English) in the Home Front Command website at: http://www.oref.org.il/934-en/PAKAR.aspx There is good reason to be alert and informed, but there is absolutely NO reason to get anxious or panicky. If you are still here you have noticed that the Israelis around you are calm and they stick to their daily routines.

I urge you all to contact your parents and maintain in regular contact with them as they most likely are being informed by international news agencies (CNN and the like) which tend to paint a disproportionately dire picture of Israeli reality at times like these.
Feel free to contact me, Tzipi, Hila or Inbal with any question you may have.

All the best,
Shlomo

If you are interested in updates in what is going on, check out:
www.ynetnews.com
www.jpost.com

 

Brooke Depenbusch

Hmmmmmmmmmm

December 28, 2008 at 1:03pm
  • Kerrie M. Rueda

    Just glad you’re safe and sound. Looking forward to hearing about your amazing time in Israel.

    December 28, 2008 at 1:32pm
    Miles Brennan
    For the sake of science we need to test the association between your presence and peace in the Middle East: Accordingly, fly back to Israel, and see if the shooting stops
    December 28, 2008 at 4:12pm
    Tabi Southall
    Glad you’re safe Joel
  • December 28, 2008 at 6:17pm
    Barney Katzerman
    im at the airport now. Nitay and I went to the old city, apparently there were riots going on while we were there and didnt know it.  Glad to see your home. its really not as bad as it sounds, but a lot of ppl dont want their kids in uniform…
    December 28, 2008 at 6:45pm
  • Tess Cromer

    Wow, that’s intense…I’m so glad you are safely home.

    December 29, 2008 at 11:32pm
  • I’m Going Abroad!

    I’ve been wanting to go back to Israel and travel elsewhere and last night I bit the bullet and bought a set of plane tickets!  From November 29 to December 21, I will be traveling to Israel and England!

    Winter Trip 2010 Flight Map

    Hopefully, I will have a job when I graduate and so after saving during the school year and throughout the summer, I decided to take the opportunity my long winter break presents and go abroad.

    In Israel, I will be going back to some of the places I saw when studying abroad, going to some of the places I missed, seeing new things, and visiting friends.

    In England, I will be staying with a friend (he is serving as my tour guide as well) who I worked with last summer at Boy Scout camp.  I will be going around London (hopefully including places my grandma remembers hearing about from my great-grandma who was from London), traveling the country, and perhaps briefly checking out Scotland and Wales.

    I am very excited to this trip.  Now I need to relearn Hebrew.  I think my English will suffice!  Any input on places to visit is definitely appreciated. 🙂