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I woke up and I saw my shadow… i guess that means 5 more months in Israel.

May 2, 2010

For better or for worse, I am staying in Israel for another 5 months.  Why not?  I am living in a beautiful country and doing meaning work.  I have the unique opportunity to expand ‘my’ world and then maybe even see some of ‘the’ world while I’m at it.  What about graduate school?  well, thats going to have to wait until next year.  I spoke to the admissions coordinator (we’re on a first name basis these days).  she supports my decision to stay in israel and maintains that I will be accepted next year.  If I got in this year with my credentials, do I not still a have competitive application after completing another 5 months of volunteering and 5 more months of completing a real internship?  I think so.

A canadian, american, south african and israel walk onto an empty field to discuss farming at 630 in the morning… have you heard that joke yet? ya da ya da ya da we somehow manage to build a green house without written instructions!

A great thing about Israel and I really appreciate is that I have an opportunity to really meet new, interesting, and sometimes c.r.a.z.y people!  Take this 63 year old South African man.  He moved to Israel 15ish years ago to teach english to israelis.  he told me that he feels so free in israel that he ended up naked at 1am at his sons wedding.  he reasons, Rak B’Israel… Only in Israel!  **Take heed, do not end up naked at my wedding!**  🙂

But on that note, everytime I meet someone new, and I get to hear his/her story, I get to reflect upon my story in the context of theres.  How did two complete strangers cross paths like this?  I met a new age frenchman when I was helping a fellow kibbutz resident build the frame of a greenhouse at his organic farm.  What is New Age?  It is like cafeteria judaism, but extended to all religions.  He picks and chooses what is meaningful to him and abides by it.  He also doesn’t count his age.  What a life story!!!

I am volunteering at the regional high school helping the english teachers and I have really bonded with an 12 year old boy named Mauri.  I think I earned his respect on the first day I met him.  He challenged me quickly by talking to me in hebrew in a rapid-fire-pace.  And I responded in hebrew (speaking slowly) that what he said was not nice at all and that he should speak nicely to people he meets.  In shock, he asked if I spoke hebrew.  I responded in rapid-fire-hebrew. “of course I speak hebrew, what? don’t you speak hebrew too?  What are these silly games? After Mauri completed his work one (ten minutes early, I might add) he and I were allowed to play basketball. We went to the court and this other boy from another class came over to play.  he also started insulting the other kids because they were younger.  naturally, he wasnt granted permission to play when we wanted to play a game.  He was upset.  I suggested he apologize.  He looks at me, almost feeling sad for me and said that this wasnt america… you don’t just apologize in Israel.  I pushed him (not physically) and asked him to try… whats the harm.  He apologizes and immediately was allowed to play our 2 on 2 game.  Pretty cool!  I don’t think I will change Israeli culture by the time I leave, but what if he apologizes one more time… or starts to think about being polite?  I do believe that there is a ripple effect when we interact with other people.  All the time.  However, the black cat that likes to hangout by our door still hasnt gotten the point that he stinks and is not welcome in our apartments.  We’ll work on that later!

Yesterday was Lag B’Omer.  That means bon fires and potatoes.  In a few weeks its Shavout, that means pie’s and cheese!  What is not to love about this country?

Next week/ post I will do a segment entitled, “Off the Beaten Path” it will be a blog about all the different things in Israel that you will not find on a website or travel book but really encapsulates the very essence of what it means to be israeli and about israel!

Before I go, the comments have been lacking just a little bit.  Please leave a comment… I take pleasure in reading your comments both long and short.  Even leaving a simple ‘!’ or ‘:)’ will suffice while stories, reflections, and rants are encouraged!

Until next time, Love ya!

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Dad permalink
    May 2, 2010 7:57 pm

    Dear Justin;

    You know as we have spoken and that I support your decision 100% and more! I asked you to follow your heart, your soul and your inner self in deciding what, if I am free at 22, with no financial obligations, no issues, no problems, no responsibilities other than to myself and my fellow man/woman, what can I see, do, experience, feel, and learn, so that as I go through life and I can say I did it and it was wonderful!

    Here is one of my favorite quotes…

    “Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like no one is listening,and live like it’s heaven on earth.”- William Purkey.

    I love you more today than ever.

    And I applaud you for following your heart, where ever it may lead.

    Sleep well, knowing you have my full support as we discussed, now and forever, whatever you may need.

    G-d bless and I love you.


  2. Pat Rayman permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:47 am

    I am sooooooooooooo glad you followed your heart. Good decision! Your cousin who so much appreciates receiving your posts. Love, Pat

    • May 10, 2010 7:55 am

      haha! Thanks Pat. I’m glad your enjoying the blog.

      How’s Ella doing? Does she have plans for the summer?

  3. ryan permalink
    May 3, 2010 2:43 am

    To Whom It May Concern:

    This will be my last letter.
    We have grown apart over these last six weeks.
    I now have two loves in my life:
    big-city livin’ and a voodoo woman named Phyllis.

    Ciao, Roberto.

    (He changed his name to Roberto. I guess he thought it was more exotic.)

    In other words….

    To whom it may conJustin:

    This is my first blog comment.
    We (I) haven’t gotten a haircut in six months. (but i did today, hairdresser was cute, kinda old but still)
    I now have dantes pizza in my hands:
    Pepperoni – steak pizza (doesn’t compare to israeli shawarma) and a voodoo woman named phyllis.


    (psh, have you seen me lately, I’m exotic with or without the awesome nickname)

    • May 10, 2010 7:57 am

      Abed: Somethings changed. Do you feel it?
      Pierce: I’m sporting a man thong!

      Please tell me you watch Community!?!?!?!? its the new scrubs.

  4. Bubby Ann permalink
    May 3, 2010 3:17 am

    Mazeltov!!!! I am sooo glad that you have decided to stay, gut feeling told me you would.
    This is a chance of a lifetime, and I am very proud of you for stepping out of the box and taking this opportunity to meet the world in Israel. Five months down the road is time enough to decide what you want to do then, Grad school is waiting, but who knows what fate has destined for you. I am sooo proud of you for grabbing in the moment. The future will look after itself. With all of your talents, it will be interesting to see where the road of life will take you.
    Planting banana trees, building green houses, what amazing challenges to experience and learn . What will be next???
    Israel is lucky to have you. Loved your description of how you managed to teach Mauri to respect others and hopefully, himself. I do feel that G-d puts us where he wants us to be, and for now, he has put you in Israel. Everyday is a new adventure, meeting people from all over the world . I am sooo happy to hear about your experiences, and very glad that you are really loving being in Israel.
    Let me know why the black cat stinks, and what you are going to do about it?? Perhaps Auntee Sandee can give you some advice on that one.
    How fortunate you are to be enjoying all of the Jewish holidays in Israel with all of the different ways of observing them and of course, all of the delicious food that comes with each one.
    I can hardly wait to read your next blog,” Off the Beaten Path”. Perhaps it will become a guide book for people who want to capture the essence of being Israeli and finding out about the heart and soul of the country. Staying in a 5 star hotel, is not the way to experience this wonderful country that is ours.
    Wishing you the very best of good luck, I know in my heart that you have made the right decision for you and I am sooo proud of you!!!
    Lots of love and hugs, Bubby Ann
    PS-I’ll be home a lot this week as Ian is taking Ryan out for driving lessons. His test is this Friday. Let me know via e-mail, when we can Skype with each other. Would love to speak with you in person.
    PPS-Also loved the pictures with this blog, keep then coming!!!

    • May 10, 2010 8:00 am

      Hi Bubby,

      You are right! This is a chance of a lifetime, and I am very happy to have your support to stay in Israel longer. Sometimes stepping out of the box is difficult but with a family like you, Ian, Auntee, Sandee, the parents and brothers it makes it that much easier for me.

      And I heard Ryan passed his test. Ian is 2 for 2 so far when it comes to teaching us to drive!

  5. ryan permalink
    May 3, 2010 3:24 am

    Justin I think it was great call to stay in Israel. Hopefully Jessica stays there with you.
    She is smooooookin’ hot.
    Have you put in a good word for me yet?
    speaking of good words, is ‘rendevous’ french or english?
    speaking of english, danny and i bought some old english it was horrible, the beer not the cologne.
    Speaking of cologne and good smells, i have an inspiring and impressive poo story.
    Speaking of poo, don’t drink too much tap water in Israel.
    Speaking of Israel, have an amazing time in Israel or you’ll have to answer to me.

    Love ya,

    • May 10, 2010 8:02 am

      Justin: Jesica, you know how ryan has only seen you once or twice over skype.
      Jesica: ya, why?
      justin: read this.
      Jesica: oooooooo, wow!!! He’s crazy, but thank you!!!

  6. Miriam Sharpe (aka mOm) permalink
    May 3, 2010 4:17 am

    Justin, you encourage a rant? You silly boy!!! (How WILL mommy respond?)

    … My first thought was in song …. ‘It’s the end of the world as I know it, I feel fine.’ But, I have to be honest. I didn’t feel fine, and I wondered if hearing the song and knowing the lyrics might help. Silly, eh. So I goggled ‘lyrics’ and it put me into youtube and I lucked into a version of the song that shows the words.

    The lyrics SUCK Justin. But did you know that the end of the song has background lyrics? “Time I had some time alone.” That’s what it says. Over and over and over. And somehow, that helped.

    And then I ‘fell’ into another youtube video.

    Justin, do you remember the time that Rascal found his reflection in your bedroom mirror and he barked and barked at it? Do you remember how hard we laughed? I remember how much we wanted him to capture that moment again, but it was over and it was too late. (what a great memory it is) Well I guess this is your moment Justin. Capture it; explore it; play with it; learn from it. It’s there for you NOW.

    I’m proud of you for taking time in making this decision. I doubt that it was easy. So, be happy Justin. Enjoy this dream for however extra months it turns out to be. But please, don’t wait too long to come home or I WILL show up naked at your wedding. And trust me…. It will NOT be a pretty sight. (Fortunately for you and all your readers, there is no youtube video for this part of my rant.)

    Justin, it’s true. IT IS the end of the world as I know it. But I feel F.I.N.E. –
    (F) freaked out
    (I) insecure
    (N) neurotic and
    (E) emotional
    And that’s okay. Because the song is right. ‘It’s time you had some time alone.’

    Stay safe!
    I love you!

    • May 10, 2010 8:05 am

      Not sure how to respond. that was truly a rant to trump all rants!

      Love you, still!!!

      Ps. cute video, looks like Oreo’s opposite non evil twin!

      • Miriam Sharpe (aka mOm) permalink
        May 13, 2010 9:53 pm

        I know there’s a seven hour time difference… here to there, there to here… but your fans (more than just ME) wait in eager andticipation for your next BLOG post.

        Love you.
        Miss you.

  7. Tyler permalink
    May 3, 2010 5:41 am

    Congrats Justin!
    Sounds like you’re really having an incredible time. Good call on calling the admissions lady by the way.
    Wish I could come out and visit you this summer but someone’s gotta keep the markets going. Maybe next december? Bye Bye Mexico, Hello Israel!
    Take care and keep on posting,
    Love ya bud!

    • May 10, 2010 8:09 am

      hey ty,

      I learned the word for accountant in hebrew, Roei Cheshbon. Meaning, the ones who look at bills! Sounds prestigeous!

      I am having an incredible time, just got back from Eilat, caught up on Community (best new show), and now just enjoying a heat wave in a nice air conditioned computer room in the high school!

      because im 7 hours ahead, ill pass you tips!! lol

      Love ya.

  8. Jill Pomerantz permalink
    May 3, 2010 11:41 am

    Hey Justin, now that I’ve found your blog, I’ve become a huge fan! Love you lots, and we miss you. Love Aunty Jill

  9. Jill Pomerantz permalink
    May 3, 2010 11:42 am

    Hey Justin, now that I’ve found your blog, I’ve become a huge fan! Love you lots, and we miss you. Love Aunty Jill (second time has the correct e-address)

  10. Sandee Sharpe permalink
    May 3, 2010 1:05 pm

    Hey Just,
    Inviting all comments and rants – mighty brave Just – mighty brave. Possible just plain foolish too – have you see Ryan’s posts – on the other hand they are amusing.
    Average people lead average lives and you Sharpie are anything but average! Follow your heart and lead a passionate life. Remember YOU have the power to choose when/if you go to Grad school; it’s not about them choosing you!
    Random comments….
    Keep the blogs coming – one day they may be compiled in a book and then who needs grad school anyways?!
    Ty will come and visit you when he’s chartering his own plane (it’s just a matter of time, this summer the markets, next summer…who knows?!)
    Some cats stink – that’s what makes Sparky so awesome as she is perfect – or as the vet told me recently – she’s the grande dame and a lady of grande age!
    What’s with the photo with you and the dude in uniform?
    Congrat’s Just – it’s a big decision! Hopefully you’ll now be able to settle into the ‘now’ in the land of milk ‘n honey (rather than me, living in the land o’ timmies and maple syrup!!) Love n hugs, Mee

    • May 10, 2010 8:10 am

      I miss Timmies. More then you know! And bagels. and tim bits. and sometimes you too!

      smell ya later!!! 🙂

  11. Arthur permalink
    May 3, 2010 6:19 pm

    Hey Justin,
    I am so happy that you’re having such a wonderful experience. It’s not hard to see why you’re having the time of your life. Without doubt you made a great decision in going to Israel in the first place. I’m sure looking back later in life you won’t regret your decision to stay. We (me and Cheryl) wish you all the best!
    Take care and enjoy.


  12. Cheryl permalink
    May 3, 2010 6:35 pm

    Hi Justin: I hear you are having an incredible time in Isreal.
    Good for you, you deserve it..
    You have to follow your heart as you are only young once.
    Cherish every minute of your experience.
    Love, Cheryl

  13. David Kocz permalink
    May 4, 2010 2:42 am

    Hey Justin,
    So glad to read about your incredible adventures. Great life experiences that will serve you well in the world of Mental Health.
    Family Kocz is with you and looking forward to sharing the stories.
    Stay well my friend.

  14. David Kocz permalink
    May 4, 2010 5:20 pm

    Hey Justin,
    Very much enjoy reading about your adventures! Great life experiences…will be invaluable if you choose to follow a career in the Mental Health world.
    Family Kocz look forward to sharing the stories…..
    Stay well my friend.

    • May 10, 2010 8:12 am

      hey Dave (and i imagine Pam can’t be that far away)!

      Thanks for the post! Send my best to Family kocz (to those who reside in casa kocz and abroad!)

      But whats going to happen this winter… family vacations in Israel!! I know a great hummous place!!!


  15. Noa Gurvis permalink
    May 5, 2010 6:26 pm

    5 more months, huh? Wow!!! HAVE FUN!!!! Looking forwards to your next post. Would say more but it’s lunch time at school and I have to go to play rehearsals!! ❤

  16. auntie c permalink
    May 14, 2010 10:37 am

    have not commented as yet but have so enjoyd your stories of life, love of country and people (even the odd sods) and most of all sensing great personal growth. I am impressed with the calibre of this experience,what it is meaning for you and what it is inspiring you to reflect upon. I love how you are leaving bits and pieces of Justin in evy experience you have but also soaking up new pieces to help infuse this “new found Justin” with the power and fortitude. wisdom and courage. I applaud you Justin— this is transformative, delightful and beautiful to witness. Love ya kid—keep writing

  17. auntie c permalink
    May 14, 2010 10:43 am

    p.s. eat a lot of cheese pie on shavuot but mostly tak in the flora…. its supposed to be awwwwwwwweeeeesome.

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