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So Hard to Be a Gangsta…

March 16, 2010

It’s so hard to be a gangsta when your white, jewish, don’t own a gun, and the toilet paper provided has pink hearts on it!  Oh ya, it doesnt help my cause when the supplies of toilet paper in the common room bathroom has little teddy bears on them.

In other news, we started ulpan- the learning of hebrew, and its not that its boring, but im reminded of why i disliked sitting through hours of hebrew school conjugating verbs and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  While I am learning phrases like ’emergency room’ and ‘I dont want an intern doctor, do not touch me’- I am not learning how to actually converse and the important day to day phrases like ‘dont eat that tadpole’, ‘where are we?’, ‘stop kicking your brother’ and ‘more hummous please’ are really being overlooked.  Thankfully, there are a bunch of 7-9 year olds who are more then happy to give me their attention and let me practice the important words of the hebrew language.  Every day (except yesterday because i fell asleep), the other volunteers and I go to a after school play area that is run by our coordinator, Oshra.  Just the other day we played capture the flag… my team won and i have a well deserved scrape on my right leg to prove my loyalty to my team and to winning!!  just joking, winning is not everything, and the kids had alot of fun… but when the kids and other volunteers started calling me a Pachdan (scardy cat) it got personal!!! 🙂

I have also become more adventurous with my eating habits over the past nine days and as such I feel like more of an adult despite the fact that operation Grow-A-Beard is, at the present time, unsuccessful.  those of you who know me know that tomatoes and eggs are not my favorite foods, in fact…its not that i despise them, i just think that world would be a better place without them.  So, one can imagine how shocked I was when I was served Shakshuka* the other night at my coordinators house!  *ed. note: Shakshuka is like scrambled eggs with fresh cut tomatoes on top. there are various variations in its presentation.  for ex. my friend Lorien from Cape Town informed me that when she has Shakshuka she fries the tomatoes and adds onions.

On a more serious note, we had a visit from the director of oranim today.  his name is Momo.  I think everyone should be friends with someone named Momo… but beware of dyslexic tendencies because Mono is not a nice nickname for a friend!  he spoke about an interesting issue facing the jewish people today… assimilation and apathy.  Alot of us find it easy to do or be jewish when things are right in our lives, especially when we’re surrounded by jews and synagogues… but when the situations get a little bit tougher and we all get a little bit older the line between acceptable and unacceptable may become blurred.  This is a topic that I hope to comment on in future posts as I explore the idea in the coming months.  Additionally, I will bring in cross cultural insights from Argentina, South Africa, Israel, and the US.  Please send me your input and I would like to respond to them either privately or through the blog.

Lastly, as much as this is a forum to keep you, friends and family, updated, I would like to get a feel for what you would like to read about.  Really, please! Art, culture, cuisine, psychology, sociology, health, love, lust, politics or religion- help guide me 🙂  Also, I encourage you to pass the url (address) of my blog to friends and family who may be interested in the content of the blog.

Love you all!


PS. I am testing out this ‘poll function’  please vote so I can see what its like!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Noa Gurvis permalink
    March 16, 2010 8:22 pm

    What a story! I didn’t know your plan was t be a gangster (if it is, I suggest throwing away the current toilet paper (or donating it) and buying a new pack). I voted on the poll (agreed) but I wish I could have chosen the other option. Unfortunately, as I’m in school/computer lab, I’m not allowed cake (thanks mom!!) nor any type of food. I’m glad all is well and that you had fun in Capture the Flag, I love that game!!! :D!! But why were you being called a scaredy-cat?? I liked the picture (at the top) of you with the cat. I like cats. Hope you have a fantastic rest-of-trip adventure!

    All the best,
    – Noa!! ❤

  2. Toba permalink
    March 17, 2010 2:31 am

    Hi Just,

    Every time I see your blog pop up in my inbox it brings a Smile to my face and I miss you!

    It is UNCANNY how much that picture of you with the cat looks like my favorite picture of me with a feral cat from Greece the first time I was there. It was one of the only days I spent entierly on my own in Mykanos. I wandered around the harbour, fed some more than half a spanicopita to some pelicans and ate a greek salad on the beach. A tiny kitty wandered over and joined me for lunch. It took some caoxing but eventually, with the help of whistling and some fresh greek feta, the kitty made himself comfy in my lap. A friendly stranger snaped a picture- I was one of the best days of my trip (mostly becuase the kitty was orange). I don’t know if you or anyone else cares to read this story but I couldnt help but be reminded of that day on the Island so thank you.

    Mark Shcachter wanted me to remind you as well that he will be in Israel for the marcha nd would love to try to connect if its possible- he says HI.

    ANYTHING you write about is of interest to me… just keep writing. O and I love the Pictures.


    • March 17, 2010 5:56 pm

      Hey Toba,

      I am the only one of the group who likes/ tolerates the cat. They all call him Lucy… short for Lucifer. He always sneaks into our rooms to go into our garbages. I think he’s just a misunderstood cat… and after all, aren’t we all just like misunderstood cats? 😉

      Speak to you soon Toba- thanks for the comments!!!


  3. Bubby Ann permalink
    March 17, 2010 12:01 pm

    Loved your blog. I especially liked the happy face on your cheek. Sounds as if you are truly meeting the world and having lots of adventures ( eg.eating foods you never thought you would like, etc.) It also sounds as if you are having a lot of fun . I loved seeing the greenery in the background. I am glad that you are in such a beautiful setting. We will need some some Hebrew lessons when you get back, especially for the interesting words. Looking forward to your future posts and cultural insights. You also looked very cute with the cat, any allergies?? Enjoy!!!!! Enjoy!!!! Lots of love and hugs, Bubby Ann

    • March 17, 2010 6:04 pm

      Hey Bubby,

      Seems to me like you have gotten the hang of both skype and blog comments!!

      I am having a lot of fun here and the setting only adds to the atmosphere. As for my allergies, there are dogs and cats everywhere… they’re just allowed to roam free. With dogs- they kill me! oh wow, they’re so cute, but my eyes water and I cough alot with the dogs (boxers, huskies, golden labs/ retrievers). I’m fine with the cats, but they tend to keep to themselves.

      Speak to you soon.

      Love lots,


  4. Bubby Ann permalink
    March 17, 2010 12:25 pm

    Hi Justin,
    SOOOO excited to hear from you. Not familiar with blogging, so I hope you receive this e-mail. Love and hugs , Bubby Ann

  5. Dad permalink
    March 17, 2010 2:32 pm

    Hi Justin!

    Great blogging! Keep those notes and photos coming! Glad to hear it’s going so well!

    Hugs and kisses!


  6. Auntee Sandee permalink
    March 17, 2010 4:05 pm

    Hey Just,
    It’s your rambles that I love! Those random thoughts that make you wonder…and in turn make me/us reflect too. Important things, like Sparky (the cat) would be so proud of your photos!
    Assimilation and apathy – it’s easy to have faith when you’re sitting down to a banquet feast – however when it’s ‘toast and water’ can there still room for faith? Wherever ‘Justin meets the world and the world meets Justin’ that’s what I love! Hugs, Mee

  7. Cally permalink
    March 18, 2010 9:46 pm

    so waiiit.
    did you eat the shakshuka?!!?
    If so I am so proud of you for going beyond the limiting diet of chicken Caesar salad, KD, apple sauce and apple juice 🙂

    and I totally agree conjugating verbs stink, big time, you will learn the most from the kids I’m sure you will find.
    Your beard will one day decide to grow on its own accord! not to worry my young Padawan…not that I know anything about growing beards, yuch.
    we miss you lots,
    keep blogging away!

    P.s Cats in Israel are disgusting, please desist in fraternizing with these diseased creatures for your own health 😀

  8. Pat ( The cousin) permalink
    March 19, 2010 2:32 pm

    Hey there Justin, I love your blogs. They too bring a smile to my face when I see them pop up in my e-mails. I’m so glad you are having a great time and exploring new foods, ideas, and adventures.
    Your blog brings up a good question. What does it mean to be Jewish? What does it mean to say being Jewish is easy in this situation, and difficult in that situation? Does this question contain particular values about particular behaviors? And who amongest the Jewish people defines what these values are? Is it the Rabbis, and if so which Rabbis—Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Humanistic, Secular? Or is it the Jewish People, and if so, which Jewish people? What is a “good Jew”? Your blog is following the Jewish tradition of asking questions, and exploring ideas. Wonderful!
    I would love to hear more about this exploration as you encounter ‘ the world’. I personally am interested in how the ordinary Israeli sees the future of Israel, and how they see getting there from here. I’m sure many people have different ideas, so exploring these different ideas would be interesting.
    In the end thou whatever you have to say, whatever you muse about, will be most welcome and exciting to read. After all I don’t know my cousin very well so am happy to hear as much as possible about his experience. That is, YOUR experience, Justin. So happy to be able to read and participate in this blog. Best of luck, Pat
    p.s. I love your pics.

    • March 25, 2010 8:42 pm

      Wow!! lots here! Thanks for the comment!! What does it mean to be jewish? no real answer- but I think that the desire to be jewish and identify as one is a good start. passing on jewish values to the next generation and treating people as you would like to be treated is also on the right track. from there… its a difficult dilemma!

      As for Israelis, you have given me a good idea. I think i will try to come up with a few questions to ask a few adults on the kibbutz about the future of israel, the kibbutz movement, etc and compare their answers! any suggestions for questions??


  9. Jaquie permalink
    March 27, 2010 4:11 am

    You seem to really want comments considering the “leave comments” at the end of each post…so here is my comment…
    I did not vote on the poll because if I did my answer would skew the votes. I don’t want to vote for either of those options, I would really like to vote for “I wish I was eating cake right now”…but that is not an option…and now I’m really upset…I also really want cake….:(
    But in other news here is a shul update: I went to the shul today for a shabbatini, food was delish (your Mom cooked it) and the people there are still old.
    Hope you’re having fun in Israel!
    – Jaquie

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