Monday, July 21, 2008

Elie's Story: My Time in Arad

This is the journal entry from the week of 7/13 to 7/19: Elie Klein, Central New Jersey

I woke up at 6:30 in the morning. Took my shower and made my usual breakfast; two eggs with toast and yogurt. Ofra and the federation take us once a week to the supermarket to buy food for our rooms that we can cook ourselves. It is very nice and they tell us we can get whatever we want. I have made pasta, tuna fish sandwiches, Israeli salads, etc. Basically, if I was ever hungry in the room, my hunger would be satisfied very quickly.

I leave the absorption center at 7:15 and arrive at the camp at 7:20. Such a long walk! haha. I wait for all 25 of my kids to arrive, greeting them outside with a boker tov and a ma nishma. The kids are great and I love all of them even though sometimes they can get a little out of hand, but they always settle down and are well behaved for my Israeli co-counslers, Chanooch and Nofar, and me.

8:00, we enter our classroom and take attendance, 4 kids are missing today, which is usually the norm. At 8:15 I begin my English lesson. Because today is the cooking day at the camp, I decide to teach them the words in English for plate, bowl, cup, napkin, fork, spoon, knife, etc. Anything I could think of that is related to eating food with, I taught them. I drew everything up on the board, and wrote the English words next the items along with the Hebrew word, thanks to my Israeli counslers, and went over the word in English a couple of times.

After a couple of minutes I erased the English words and wrote them in a column on the side of the board and asked for volunteers to label the correct English words with their items. I was amazed that, besides one kid, everyone had gotten them correct. Now, I wanted to test them even further. I began writing the wrong English words over different items, and the kids corrected me. I felt so proud of them and good inside.

The rest of the camp day, the kids made all different foods: Israeli salad, humus, cheese sandwiches, tahini, etc. It was a great day, and by 1:00 I was wiped out. I took a nap until 4:30ish and then we had a tour of a doll museum in Arad, which was very nice.

Tuesday, the camp had an Earth day. We gathered at the regular camp place, the Tapoach Pius, and at 8:30ish, we walked to the North Park of Arad. The kids played a little scavenger hunt game set up by the counselors until 10:30, when we all gathered under a tent and played games about the earth. There was a DJ there running everything, playing Israeli music with the children dancing, and it was a great day.

Before I knew it, the day was over, but I had a fun evening planned for me. My co-counselor, Chanooch, was having a bbq at his house with his yeshiva friends, and had invited me. I graciously accepted, and around 9:00 I went over to his place and ate kabab and hamburgers with about twenty yeshiva boys. We were dancing, laughing, having a great time, and it was if I had gone to school with them in Beer Sheva all this time. The night lasted until about 2 am! but I was ready for camp the next day, just because I love the kids and Israeli counselors so much.

Wednesday I taught them the days and months of the year, and also how to count up to 20. They had no problem counting to 10, but in the teens they ran into some trouble. So everyday I go over the numbers between 11 and 20 by playing a Hebrew game "qwah qwah", with the numbers in English. We made wax candles that day in camp and sadly another day of camp was finished.

That night we went to the Arad music festival and danced with Israelis and they tried teaching us Israeli folk dancing, which was so much fun, but also very hard. I went to bed fairly early Wednesday night because I would need as much rest as I could get for the following day. It was pool day Thursday which meant I would have tons of kids jumping on me asking me to throw them and put them on my shoulders. We had three pool days at the camp and each day, although I could barely move by the end of it, was awesome. So the kids left, I wished them a good weekend, and needed a nap.

This weekend will be spent in Arad, but will be the best weekend (although Jerusalem was amazing, as was Eilat and Tel Aviv!). Tonight we are going to see the Masada light show and sleeping in a tent, waking up early and climbing Masada in the morning.

The whole Masada trip will be an experience I will never forget, and the next part of the trip I was looking forward to the most since the beginning. Ein Gedi!!! The Ein Gedi spring and waterfalls is one of my favorite places in Israel and this time I went with Israelis, not just my family and other Americans. It was soooo much fun!!!

That night was Shabbat and Ofra invited me and another American Israeli to her house for Shabbat dinner. Shabbat dinner was amazing just as I had expected, and we sat outside and talked for hours and breathed the great air of Arad. Haha, it really is true that the air in Arad is really good.

After we left we met up with the other Israeli counselors at Muza (one of the three pubs in Arad), and hung out. Then sadly, we called it a night, and Saturday, Ofra invited us to her again for Shabbat lunch which was also great. Now it is 11:18 at night on Saturday, and I only have three and a half more days in Israel :(, and I am becoming sad.

This trip, though, has inspired me to want to do an Ulpan next summer in Israel so I can finally learn fluent Hebrew!!!

I'll send you guys pictures as soon as I upload them on my computer at home, and thanks sooo much for this experience the Jewish Agency and Partnership 2000 gave me.


1 comment:

Sivia said...

Elie, Thanks for sharing your experiences so far away in Arad- you have brought your summer and your time to life. We are so proud of you and your co-counselors from New Jersey and Delaware who have chosen to be part of our Partnership ! I can well understand your love of this unique region and people, and we will do our best to share your story with the folks here! Todah and Kol Hakavod!