Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Days of Great Food

So as you might guess, 25 "young adults" (Is that the term I use to describe us?) living on their own, and on a budger, with no oven and a small stove makes for some very basic meals. Pasta is made the majority of the time. But the last few days have been filled with some really good food!

My great food started with dessert on Saturday night! My internship is with Batsheva Dance Company. They are a world renowned dance company. The artistic director, Ohad Naharin, developed the style of dancing that the company performs. It is called Gaga, and it is a very unique style. Anyway, this year is Batsheva's 50th Anniversary and on Saturday night they had a huge gala to celebrate. I was so excited when they offered me a ticket! The event started at 9pm and was held at the New Tel Aviv Opera House. I was very nervous about finding the opera house by myself, but I did it just fine!

During one piece, the dancers wrote "Batsheva 50" in chalk on the set
I arrived just in time and was blown away by the beauty of the performances. The dancers performed some of the company's most memorable pieces and I loved every second of it. After the performance there was a big reception held outside. There was a red carpet with wine, cocktails, and all kinds of desserts. (This is where the food comes in.) They had macarons, brownies, fruit, and little dessert cups with all different kinds of pudding and mousse in them. IT WAS SO GOOD. I had a fantastic time at the gala and I feel so honored to be working with Batsheva. You can find videos of their performances on their Youtube channel or on their website:

Naomi (my boss) and me at the reception

On Sunday, Emily and I were invited to a breakfast with some of the other Onward participants from different cities and some of the big donors to the program. We were told to be at the restaurant, Liliyot, by 8:15am. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Emily and I decided to go out to the bus stop at 7 just to be safe. An hour later, our bus had STILL not come. We started to panic. We were representing Cincinnati and didn't want to make a bad impression, and we definitely did not want to miss out on a nice breakfast! We quickly decided to walk down to the main street and take a cab instead. We got in the cab and told the driver (who spoke almost no English) where we were going. WE GOT THERE AT 8:15 EXACTLY! When we arrived, there was a private room for our meeting and a large table with everything from bread, cheese, yogurt, and fruit, to shakshuka (so good!) and salad (because in Israel you eat salad for breakfast). IT WAS SO GOOD. Not only was the food good though, the conversations were as well. We talked about Jewish identity and what kinds of homes we grew up in. It was a pretty short breakfast since most people had to get to work.

Lucky for us, neither Emily or I had to work on Sunday so after breakfast we decided to go exploring! We didn't really know where we were, but we just started walking. We walked into some different shops and then....suddenly....we found ourselves on the fanciest street of stores in Tel Aviv. One of the stores we went in was called Madame de Pompadour. I kid you not, this place had marble staircases and a pink baby grand piano. The clothes in that store were beautiful, and nothing was under 1,500 shekels. Emily and I could not stop giggling because we just could not believe where we were. I was able to sneak some pictures while the salespeople were not watching us like hawks.
Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour
Marble staircase in Madame de Pompadour

Emily and I walked all over that day. We somehow found ourselves on a street we recognized and continued walking. We ended up walking from Rabin Square to Shuk Ha'Carmel (technically further since we don't know where we started). Even though we walked quite a few miles, it was one of the best days so far. It is so great to be able to explore a new city, and to feel safe doing it. Neither Emily and I have data on our phones, so we didn't have Google Maps or anything like that. We just knew that we would be okay. It is interesting that in a country that is thought to be so dangerous, I feel more comfortable than I do wandering around Cincinnati.

On Monday I went to work and was happily surprised to hear that there was going to be a meeting in the afternoon to celebrate the success of the gala on Saturday. My boss, Naomi, said that the email literally said, "Join us for hummus and celebration." I would never turn down hummus, and it is a good thing I didn't! When we walked into the kitchen, the table was full of fresh vegetables, pita, hard boiled eggs, and tons of containers of hummus. It was the best hummus I have ever had, and Naomi told me that each container is only 10 shekels at the shuk! It was interesting to see the difference in culture though as everyone began to eat. When we first arrived in Israel, someone told us that Israeli's just take. They don't wait in line or wait for someone to offer, if they want to do something they do it. That is exactly what happened. Several people ate three or four peppers or mini cucumbers before the meeting even started, and quite a few people took a whole container of hummus for themselves and were eating out of it with a spoon. It was so funny to me how different that would have played out in America. There would be plates and serving spoons and manners, but I kind of loved how it happened here. There are no rules.

On Tuesday I had a very long commute home from work. The traffic was terrible and I was cranky the whole way home. Once I finally got home I immediately had to turn around and go to a meeting with the group. A bunch of us chose to walk to the meeting which was held at Hayarkon Park. We had no idea how huge the park was or how far we were going to have to walk. But we made it there and the meeting went well. Afterwards, we were all starving. Emily, Sarah, Jordan and I decided we wanted to walk further into Tel Aviv and find burgers. That was all we wanted. Jordan looked up a place on her phone and we walked and walked and walked until finally....MAGIC BURGER. It was literally one of the best burgers I have ever had. It was only 48 shekels for a burger, fries, and a drink! The restaurant was kosher so there was no cheese, but I didn't even miss it. That is how good it was. It was a fantastic way to end my day.

-Sunday was our first day of was rough. Hopefully it gets better!
-Shoutout to Chad for understanding when the security guard outside of Ulpan was making fun of us in Hebrew for not knowing how to open the gate.
-Monday was Sarah's 19th birthday so a bunch of us went out with her to celebrate.
-Shoutout to Liora for letting me wear all of her clothes on Sarah's birthday when I didn't know what to wear.
Sarah and me
Liora and me
-Shoutout to Justin for leaving me the nicest note on my door on Tuesday. It's so nice to have you as a father figure while we are here. :)

Note from Justin


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