Dec 31, 2010


So while everyone else is drinking themselves into a proper state of inebriation, I am curled up in bed with my dog in a mild food coma from my dinner I just devoured and watching MSNBC's "Lock Up"  (I literally watched this show for seven hours straight on Christmas Day). I am mentally and physically willing myself not to drift off into a unicorn inspired dream filled with dancing puppies and mountains made out of funfetti cake. Why you may ask? Not because I feel the need to mark yet another year pass and watch some ridiculous shiny ball drop from the sky to mark said transition into yet another year. After twenty two years of life on this earth, and I still cannot understand why the new year is such a big deal. It comes, it passes- so what? Anyways, I need to stay awake so that I can pick up my lovely friend Jenn at the airport. When does she land? Midnight. Poor girl thought she was landing at 12 noon today. Yet another reason why I think we need to switch to the 24 hour clock. 

Dec 26, 2010

New York City Bound

It is alarming how quickly this winter break is passing by. I have already been home for 9 days and it has all been blurred into one stream of eating, sleeping, eating and napping. It depresses me a little to know that in two weeks I will be headed back to D.C. to finish out my last semester of my senior year. The depressing aspect is that I will no longer be able to just eat, sleep, eat and nap- not the fact that I will be finally escaping the grasps of George Washington University. 

Truthfully, I had been a little nervous about this winter break. It was the first break in which I had been home and not abroad in Israel. I would be celebrating my birthday without copious amounts of alcohol or friends to guide me home. Instead I found myself celebrating my birthday by gorging on birthday cake and watching seven straight hours of "Dexter". Surprisingly, it was really enjoyable- even though every time I see the Yoshi Blade commercial on TV I get the giggles and picture Dexter obliterating some child rapist with it. 

Dec 10, 2010

Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics

So I recently entered the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics. I found out relatively late about the contest and decided to enter it rather spontaneously. First to preface, Elie Wiesel is one of my heroes in life. I read Night when I was relatively young and the book both traumatized and inspired me. In hindsight, I should not have read the book at the time that I did; after reading Night, I continued on a wave of reading Holocaust literature and the cruelties I read about and the books I devoured led me to be quite sensitive to anything Holocaust related. However, Wiesel's books are like poetry to me and his weaving together of words are hauntingly beautiful. I remember spending an hour just looking at one paragraph, finding new layers of meaning behind each sentence as I would replay the sentence in my head. Commas and periods took on lives of their own as they jutted out from their framework to come alive as bold statements in themselves. 

I remember attending a lecture by Wiesel when I was in high school. I went with my mother and I was surprised by how humorous he was. He was a tragic comedian. I shook his hand after and had so many things I wanted to say to him. Instead, all I could muster was a "Thank you". I do not know if there has ever been an author, public figure or celebrity that has ever had as much of an impact on me and my life than Elie Wiesel.

The essay called for participants to write 3,000-4,000 words (about 12 pages, double spaced) on an ethical dilemma that they have faced, or anything relating to that. Surprisingly, the essay contest itself was pretty liberal in that you could really write whatever you wanted- I looked at past examples and saw a wide range of topics. I chose to write about the refugee situation in Israel, a topic which is really important to me. This essay was the first time I had really translated my experiences from this summer into essay form and it was really cathartic for me. The essay is incredibly long, especially in the blog world so if you do want to read it, you can check it out after the jump. I'm actually really nervous about people reading it, as no one has read it in its entirety and I just feel kind of vulnerable with it. But since I know that A. My mother is the only one who probably reads this and B. My mother has not read my blog since a year ago, I am pretty safe publishing my words here. So, yes if you happened to stumble upon my blog, have a few hours to spend and want to read this, then please let me know what you think.

Published with MASA Israel Blog

So it is a little belated, but I was published on the MASA Israel Blog. I was asked to write a blog as a MASA alum and I wrote about my experiences on the kibbutz. That blog entry ended up being published in the Boston Jewish Advocate, much to my mother's excitement. I thought I would post it here as well. Enjoy!

I grew up always being the lone Jewish girl. I would be the one who always missed school in September for the High Holidays, who would always be asked to explain “my peoples’  special holiday” to the class, and of course, the one who was always asked “so really, why did you guys kill Jesus?”  I suppose it didn’t help that I spent my high school years attending an all girls Catholic school south of Boston where my lack of Irish step dancing and red hair made me stand out like a sore thumb. It was always this wanting for a Jewish community that motivated me to someday find one; I just didn’t know where to search. Additionally, freshman year had been a rough year for me and I felt myself slowly sinking. I didn’t know where I fit in at my university where everyone was super motivated and being a type-A personality wasn’t a nuisance, but a necessity. All I knew was that I needed to get away and slow life down before I would suddenly find myself cherishing my last few days of freedom before my senior year of university. That is when I decided to go back to my roots and head for the Holy Land. Thus, in the first semester of my sophomore year at university, I did something so shocking and unbelievable to all my fellow students at my university- I decided to take a leave of absence and live on a kibbutz in Israel.

Sep 19, 2010

Discovering my hidden feminist

I am currently taking a class, Women in Global Politics, in which each week we need to write a journal entry discussing our reactions, comments and feelings on that week's materials and subjects. I am going to post them here on my blogger for you all to read as I share my reactions to issues relating to women in the world today. 

This week I was faced with the task of writing an essay entitled, “This I believe”. Based on the NPR segment of the same title, we had to write 500 words on a challenge facing women today that moved me deeply. I saw the topic and thought to myself, “wow, what a piece of cake- this is something that I can truly BS”. As I sat down to write it, however, I suddenly found myself completely incapable of writing.  I looked across the table at my roommate Jennifer, one of the only self-proclaimed feminists that I actually knew in person, and casually asked her, “Hey Jen, what would you say is the biggest challenge facing women today?” She prattled off a list of things and I smiled and nodded, but just couldn’t get myself to feel moved by any of them. I also couldn’t help but think of anything that was especially important; I mean, we had the right to vote and we almost had our first female president. What else could we possibly want?

Sep 17, 2010

What Yom Kippur Means to Me

Every Yom Kippur we turn to those around us and we ask for forgiveness, adorn ourselves in white clothing and refrain from eating or drinking. Yom Kippur becomes a day in which we are likened to angels and it is the only time of the year in which we say the second verse of the Shema out loud as opposed to the 364 other days of the year in which we recite this prayer under our breath, as it was “stolen” from the angels. The twenty-five hour fast of Yom Kippur is broken with an elaborate meal and thus we continue on with our lives, all our sins forgiven, a blank slate.

I remember the days of Yom Kippur as being extra miserable for me as I would not only mourn my sins, but also the chocolate chip muffin I knew was just waiting for me to be eaten back at home. I would find myself staring miserably at the food in the cupboard, just begging me to take one little nibble. I would resentfully slam the door and nap until the onset of the evening service. Then as the time came near to hear the blowing of the shofar, I would make a run for the dining room and grab possession of my plate in preparation for the feast that I would indulge in. For me, Yom Kippur meant a day of seemingly endless suffering as I would struggle to avoid eating and find ways to make the long hours fly by.

For my family, however, Yom Kippur is something even more. Yom Kippur marks the anniversary of the 1973 war fought between Israel and a coalition of Arab states backed by Egypt and Syria. On this day, thirty seven years ago, a surprise attack was launched on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur. The State of Israel was unprepared for such a brazen offensive and the entire country was thrown in to a panic. Egypt and Syria crossed cease-fire lines entering into the Israeli held Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. The Israelis quickly rallied and launched a counter-defensive and managed to push both the Egyptians and Syrians back. The war, however, had ended with the Arab states feeling vindicated after their humiliating defeat back in 1967 and the Israelis disheartened and no longer invincible.

It was also on this day thirty seven years ago that my father was sent to the frontlines of Egypt as a member of the Israeli Defense Forces. Each Yom Kippur my family would notice how my father would tense up and shadows would cross his face as we spent the day praying in the synagogue. I could always see a shadow of sadness in his eyes even as he would sit in the shul, his head deep in thought as he would sneak a candy in to his mouth while the Hazzan sang his mournful lamentations. Whenever I would dart a dirty look at him, he would smile and say, “I just need something sweet to taste”. He would open his pocket and I would find an assortment of sugared candies just waiting for me to indulge in, but I would adamantly shake my head and silently feel victorious in my own personal struggle to resist any food from crossing into my mouth.

Yom Kippur, I’ve found, is truly a bittersweet day for both my father and me; it marks the day that all of our sins are erased, and yet we are still left with the memories of those sins. And that epitomizes the most truly frustrating aspect of Yom Kippur; the fact that we are forgiven for our transgressions, and we are still burdened by the memory of them.

Just like my father is still haunted by his memories from the war thirty seven years ago, I am also haunted with the pain I caused the ones I loved, the mean words I said of others, the countless times I could have helped someone in need and I chose not to.

So, what does Yom Kippur mean to me? As I’ve grown older, Yom Kippur has begun to become less about not getting my daily bowl of Cheerios and more about transforming my past sins into future promises of change for myself. Yet, it also means that when I say my selichot, or prayers for forgiveness, I must also learn that while my slate is being wiped clean, I will still remember the hurt that I caused others. And it will be this realization that will prevent me from making those same mistakes again. And while memories of hurt that we received from others and pain that we caused are a deep burden that we must carry throughout our lives, I have learned from my father that the best thing to do is to accept- and even welcome- the pain. And in those moments of true weakness that we do have-  in which one more hour of fasting seems like an impossible task or in which the pain of our past transgressions hurts us more than words can describe-  we can’t let the difficulty overcome us so that we lose the true meaning of forgiveness and redemption. Instead, we must smile and sneak a little piece of candy to remind us of the true and constant sweetness that our lives possess.

Sep 5, 2010

Musings of a Free Falafel is BACK!

Hello loyal readers! I have fantastic news! The Musings of the Free Falafel is back and better than ever! Get ready for super exciting, fascinating and thought-provoking posts that will leave you breathless and wanting for more! Unfortunately Bridezillas is on and I must go watch that, but for now I will leave with you some pictures of baby polar bears to quench your thirst for some juicy falafel balls. Til next time readers!