Undoubtedly this has been the best week I've had in quite some time...
Two days ago you could feel the excitement as people were preparing for their Passover seders. The car wash down the street was packed, the streets smelled like fire and you could see a thin haze in neighborhoods where people were burning chametz outside, and the inside of my building smelled like bleach mixed with really amazing Jewish cooking :) YUM! I attended the seder with a bunch of friends from camp and coincidentally was greeted at the seder by someone who knew my great-grandpa and used to go running with him - what a sweet surprise :) It was truly one of the warmest communities I could've spent the holiday with and it felt like such a blessing to be celebrating in Jerusalem, too. It is such a new and incredible feeling to be living in a community (and really an entire nation) of people who value what I value, celebrate what I celebrate, and so on. It's had me thinking lots about my future and the kind of life I want to continue to create for myself (don't worry though for those of you at home I'm still planning on coming back :) ).
This week has also been a much-needed, nice breath of fresh air. Truth be told, the recent few weeks have been really challenging. With the exception of a few glitches, I'm really trying to remind myself when I get frustrated that it's these things that are hard to deal with now that I might just end up missing the most. I've also really been missing India and continuing to try to make sense of my experience there. I remember saying a while back that I was going to be processing that whole experience for quite some time yet until I could make sense of what it was. Well, I think I've figured it out... Indian culture is so extremely different from anything I've ever known that it made every day and every minute of every day really such an adventure. I never knew what to expect and thus was challenged and rewarded daily on such professional and personal levels. I really miss India, the people I spent my time with there, and the daily giggles of strange situations :) I intend on making my way back there and I look so forward to seeing how I fair at that time given what I know now.
Finally, this has been such a fun week because I've gotten to spend so much time with family! At this point I feel like I've spent enough time with them that we're past the getting-to-know-you-so-we-always-need-to-be-nice-and-polite phase and we've moved on to the real phase of feeling just like family. I spent several days with my cousins who live on a settlement in the West Bank where I got to spend another Shabbat with them, visit with my great Aunt and stay up talking with her until 1 AM, hitchhike to and from their house (it's really not a big deal here but since it's so foreign to my native culture I just have way too much fun doing it), and cooking my mom's Haroset recipe together (big hit!). My other cousins who live closer by to me I've also gotten to see a few times this week. Once I went to help out with the sweet, adorable kids (there are 6 of them under age 10!!), yesterday for Passover lunch, and today for a mini-tiyul (trip). We hiked down to a spring and made our way through this itty bitty, claustrophobic-inducing, pitch black cave, bopped around in abandoned homes in an old Arab village, and then headed back to Asher's house for a nice lunch and relaxing afternoon. What a gift it is to have them here and a privilege to get to know them :)
The rest of the week I'll be spending in Tel-Aviv with some friends just beaching it, cooking, reading, and generally relaxing. I know, it's a tough life... :) Ema comes in 2 weeks - wahooooooooo - shortly after she leaves I head to Jordan for a week, not long after that my grandma, sisters, and cousins come in town, and then right after that the program is over. Ahhh! So weird!! I can't believe I'm already talking about the end of the program... yikes!!!
I'll do my best to keep updates coming a bit more frequently. Until the next one I'm sending big hugs to each of you and much much love.
Chag sameach, shalom, namaste, and love,