Shira Betzibur

As I wrote a couple of weeks back, the work week is different here. Off Fridays, on Sundays. So Thursday night is a big going-out night. Check that-every night is a big-going out night, although I have yet to see it for myself being so busy with work this month. Last night, I was invited to my first ever Shira Betzibur, one of the big trends to hit Israel in the last few years. It’s basically a big group of friends getting together to sing popular songs from the past accompanied by one or more musicians. See this article for an interesting explanation (thank you, Google search!)

Assaf, the guy I’m planning to live with (as soon as we find an apartment) invited me to join him. I had heard about this phenomenon in New York, as described in the article, but hadn’t attended before. He told me to walk to the corner of Bograshov and King George to be picked up by his friend Noa. (By the way, it’s interesting how the majority of the major streets in this country are named for historical figures. King George was apparently an English king during the British Mandate…thank you Google search! Since I’m still learning this city, I’m constantly forgetting names of streets. “Ok, I’m supposed to go to the immigration office on Ben-Gurion…or was it Ben-Yehudah? Yehuda Maccabi or Yehuda HaLevi? ARRRRGH!”) So I find Noa’s car and immediately meet her, Joyce in the front seat who moved here from Chile, and Shlomit, who proceeds to call her father and speak to him in English (he moved here from Cleveland, what other language would she speak to him in?) In social, pressure-free situations (as opposed to at the bank), it’s easy to get my point across in Hebrew. It’s pretty amazing when an American Jew can communicate with a Chilean Jew in Hebrew. Thank you, Ben-Yehudah!

I expressed this to the group, along with some of the other things that made this country great. Someone smiled and said, “Ahhhhh, just wait until a year from now when it wears off and you’re angry about the traffic and all the other annoying things.” Yeah yeah yeah, I know, let me enjoy it while it lasts.

We arrived to a moshav in the middle of nowhere (Israel is the roughly the size of a Walmart parking lot, how “in the middle of nowhere” could it be?) where one of the groups’ friends lives. He had a good sized patio with couches and mattresses on the ground and everyone had brought something to eat, vegetables, fruits, and wine. (Sliced vegetables, the chips and salsa of Israel.) I tried some fruit for the first time whose name I can’t even remember. I took one bite and put the rest on the table. In hindsight, I think they were playing a joke on me and fed me rubber. Assaf, who I don’t know so well yet, is an amazing pianist according to everyone who knows him. He played on his keyboard all night as the lyrics to the songs were projected on a wall. I knew fewer than five songs over several hours and by 12:30, was falling asleep on the couch (thank you, wine!) In order to wake myself up, I got up and walked inside. Some woman found me five minutes later and asked me why I was inside. About 2 minutes later, I discovered that she worked at Young Judaea camps in the States for 7 summers and we knew approximately 8.5 bajillion people in common. I guess I should never be surprised, but I’m always surprised. Going to Jewish summer camp, working for the Jewish community, and living in New York…the triple crown of Jewish geography. Now that I live in Israel, I figure that I should have met every Jew by the year 2013. For those of you who are shocked, you apparently haven’t done any of these four things. Anyone who has knows that this somehow happens all the time.

The night was a lot of fun, especially after 10 or so straight days of staff orientation. Things should really slow down in about 3 weeks and I’m looking forward to settling into a routine and meeting people. I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking “how are things going so far?” The best answer is “I’ll let you know in a few months.” Too early to have anything to report. Here comes another post…

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