Sunday, 11 March 2012

Snow!!! Hold it hold it….in J-ru?

   Yess you read right—I woke up to SNOW in March! When packing for this study abroad I thought by the time February rolled around, the sun would be shining every day and we’d wear short sleeves. However I picked the coldest winter in 10 years to come, and here is evidence of cold in a place only known for blazing hot weather. 
     While learning about hermeneutics (what do I know and how do I know it?) in New Testament  on March 2 a snow storm was raging out the window. So during the break what do 83 college age students do? Snowball fight of course!

Once in a lifetime!

After playing outside we were freezing and found the hot water and hand dryer in the bathroom quite handy :-)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Holocaust Museum--Yad Veshem

Relic 2 at Warsaw Ghetto Square, the site of Holocaust Rememberance Day. 
    How can you come to Israel without remembering 6 million of these people were slaughtered less than sixty years ago? As my Judaism teacher explained today, the world is obsessed with the Holocaust. But why that particular genocide? Stalin killed more people, yet the only time he was mentioned was in a European history class. I'm not sure why, but it is an interesting thought. What I learned today from visiting Yad Veshem, the Israeli Holocaust site, is that I believe everyone, everyone, is created equal, and I am more determined to love those around me.
   From books, movies, and high school, I've learned alot about this chilling time in history. But hearing stories, personal family stories from my Hebrew teacher Mrs. Goldman, a Jew, put a new light on it.
Relic 1 at in the Square. Portrays Jewish people as downtrodden.Compare with Relic 2.
  Mrs. Judy grew up in California and after public school spent a few hours after that in Hebrew school. She married an Israeli and has lived here over thirty years. She shared her personal stories about Yishev, the holocaust, in class and gave me permission to share them. (We were all wiping our eyes by the end)
     One of her earliest memories is of going to the beach with her cousins at 5 years. She saw a long black number inked on her arm, which frightened her. Later at home, when she asked, her Mom wouldn’t tell her. How do you explain how some people find your people describe your grandparents death?
     Most of her family died in Auschwitz. Her husband is a child of 15 and 3 survived. In 1996, she went with a group of 5,000 college kids and instructors to visit Auschwitz, the most well-known concentration camp. The walk from Auschwitz 1 to Auschwitz 2 was traumatic and called the "March of the Dead." This group of Jews went to do the "March of the Living." As they were waiting for a bus to arrive, two boys stood on the steps to the buildng where Josef Mengele experimented on nearly 1,500 sets of twins.They wrapped an Israeli flag around them, and began singing the Israeli national anthem in Hebrew. Mrs. Judy describes this as the height of a moving, poignant moment. Sadly though, as these Jewish people wearing blue jackets with the Star of David walked in silence to commemorate their people, a local Polish village on the side came to the road and began yelling obscenities---anti-Semitism is still alive today.
  Here are two stories from my two Jewish teachers illustrating that.
Mrs Judy--
    At work a few years ago she heard the number of a bus that was going to be bombed—the one her son rode home from school on. She raced home, feeling as scared as she ever had, and thankfully the Lord spared him. Many students however, were not. 
  Mr. Ophir--
      Coming home from the Passover Seder dinner at the Center, he was stuck at a red light at a main intersection. A small group were rioting around the car, and somehow they could tell his family was Jewish. They began throwing rocks at the car, and a cinderblock was thrown at the car. His little girl and boy were in the backseat, and it hit the trunk. Right then the light turned green and they were able to drive away, but he said if they'd been stuck, he's not sure what would have happened. 
     Picture your family in the same situation. Paralyzed yet?

 Ten children, 7 dwarfs, studied music in Transylvania and started their own orchestra. Joseph Mengele "subjected them to painful and degrading experiments." After the war they dug up their buried instruments and began playing again!
Bread rations card
Crematory Ovens replica in the museum

 This video I took in the Children's memorial. 
It's a building full of mirrors and burning candles. What you see on the video is exactly how it was. While there I thought about my precious nieces, Annabelle and Savannah, and thought how impossibly difficult it would be to forgive anyone who hurt them.
 After spending hours reading, watching, and seeing the atrocities of the Holocaust, it's hard (especially as a Jew) to not walk out angry. These trees are carob trees. Each one is planted in remembrance of someone who risked their lives to save a Jew.

Monday, 20 February 2012

The Biblical Zoo

     For our Sunday free day (will I ever get used to that?) eleven of us "Mormon University" kiddos grabbed a bus to the ZOO!! For 37 shekels (right under $10) we got 4 ½ hours of pure fun. The prized at the Israeli zoo is a red panda (the little guy down below). He’s a cutie and when saw him he was in mid-morning workout, taking some laps thru the bushes, around his cage, and meandering up to his tree house. What a life. So the difference between a normal zoo and a Biblical zoo is each animal comes complete with biblical reference. Also I saw the kind of tree Judas Iscariot hung himself on and a St. Peter's fish, what Peter lugged in with his nets. What’s neat about the Israeli zoo is how close we got to the animals. Kangaroos were hoppin' around in their habitat, with only a meager rope separating us from them! I looked over a watering hole with rhinos, giraffes, and hippos. One creature not there was any spider. One day I'll forgive my brothers for chasing me around the house with that beanie baby spider. You're picturing it now and tan, named Web? Mmmmhhm. Why Noah invited those nasty creatures to his Ark party I do not know. 
Famous Red Panda

David bought nectar and let us all feed the birds!
Alyssa hates birds hahaha

Look at that gorgeous background! We are here in the one green season of the year.


so we had to :)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Neot Ketuvim

      Ne’ot Ketuvim is a beautiful park dedicated to the botany of the bible. 600 species of plants mentioned in the Bible were imported and made to grow here; quite a task being that water is VERY scarce in Israel. Today our JC crew spent a beautiful, sunny, 70 degree afternoon experiencing the life of the Bible. I say “experiencing” because on a typical field trip we simply keep our earphones plugged in. Today-we got to be shepherds, cooks, botanists, and scribes!

            The shepherd. King David, Abraham, and Moses had this occupation, and Christ is referred to as the “Great shepherd”. So naturally how do we learn about that? Herd sheep of course!! The best way is to walk behind while gently guiding them in the right direction. Combine the most well-trained sheep in the country with a 2:1 people/animal ratio-it went great. However a typical shepherd cared for a flock of ~200 on his lonesome. A rewarding life, but a hard one.

            Hyssop. “…they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth,” John 19:29. Jesus is on the cross at this point, and I always wondered what on earth that was. Hyssop is a plant with a strong herby scent. After it dries for a few weeks, you crush it up until it looks like Texas sand (translation: an unattractive color and hard haha). It is used to treat skin conditions, especially leprosy. Today bags of hyssop, or zatar in Arabic, are sold everywhere as a spice. We pour olive oil onto a pita, then sprinkle it on top. Tasty!
Crushing the hyssop leaves

            Scribes. No, this isn’t nature filled, but rich in culture and tradition? Oh yeah. A Jewish scribe sat writing beautiful Hebrew letters using a quill for us while a translater spoke about the art of copying the Torah. Completing one Torah takes about one year and so is VERY expensive. When synagogues do get one, a huge celebration takes place. Only paper from kosher animals hides’ can be used, the scribe must be clean when writing torah, and when you mess up, the word is cut out but not thrown away. Any writing which uses the name of God or is spiritually related can never be thrown away, even the “trash”! Instead it goes into a book cemetery. At the Western Wall thousands of prayers are stuffed in-between the rocks, and a special group comes in to put them all in bags and bury them! Every detail about the Torah has significance. Each page has 42 lines, because Moses was on Mt. Sinai 40 days + 2 for travel time. The beginning letter of the book opens toward the left (remember Hebrew is read from l à r) to signify the beginning of everything begins here. Tibia hit the nail on the head when he sang “Tradition!”  

A Jewish scribe reading a scroll over 200 years old!

He wrote Welcome in Hebrew for me!! Notice how straight the letters are without any lines. The rosin is from an almond tree. It is used to make ink so it sticks on the page.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Call to Prayer

Hannah, Bonnie, Alyssa, Danielle: the Roommates of 408

      5x per day the Muslim Call to Prayer is blasted all over Jerusalem. Loudspeakers are positioned over the city and boy is it loud. Really loud. Our professors said eventually we won't hear it just like I can't hear the train behind our house in Vidor, but that ain't happenin yet. It's kinda hard to appreciate it at four in the morning. One line in the prayer says, "Prayer is better than sleep" =). Have you ever heard the Call to Prayer? You tube it--it's quite interesting. The Muslims don't describe it as singing- it's a unique mix between singing/deep chanting. 

4x الله اكبر Allahu Akbar God is the Greatest
2x اشهد ان لا اله الا الله Ash-had al-la ilāha illa llah I testify that there is no God except God
2x اشهد ان محمدا رسول الله Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-rasūlu llāh I testify that Muhammad is a Messenger of God
2x1 اشهد ان عليا ولي الله Ash-hadu anna Aliya wali-ul-lah I testify that Ali is a Vicegerent of God
2x حي على الصلاة Hayya 'alas-salāh Come to prayer
2x حي على الفلاح Hayya 'alal-falāh Come to success
2x حي على خير العمل Hayya- al Khair al amal The time for the best of deeds has come
2x الله اكبر Allah-u Akbar God is greater than any description
2x لا اله الا الله Lā ilāha illallāh There is no deity except for God

I Dream of Jeanie
      Doing the Call to Prayer is a huge honor passed down thru family lines. Two of the six men working in the Old City came tonight to teach us about it. All Muslims pray 5x a day on a prayer rug, but only when they and the area are clean. So if you've been working in the field, you need to shower before praying. If you're on vacation, you can do 2 prayers at one time so it's not super inconvenient. And of course, no matter where you are, face Mecca. Mecca is where their main prophet Muhammad grew up and is their most holy city. There is an app for the I-phone which rings when it's time to pray and shows believers the direction to face! After that we feasted on a traditional Arab dinner: lots of rice, hummus, pita, chicken, and a bright orange dessert described by Alyssa as, "Macaroni and cheese with sugar". gross. I have a food tasting quota every day, and it was conveniently filled before that dessert appeared on the table. Then we learned a dance! Arabic dancing focuses on the feet and it was alot harder than it looked. I need to write down the steps in my journal to remember!
      Best part about it all? foregoing Wikipedia and experiencing this culture firsthand.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012


 Shalom loved ones!

David, Davis, Amanda, me, Alyssa
             Lo and behold, Danielle is blogging. Mostly for my family that I miss, but also because this is one experience that I’ll want to refer to all my life. Jerusalem has officially been home for 28 days now, so this post is more of a summary of my new life. My goal is to blog about the best experience every week, so if you're bored out of your mind, come check out how the Texas girl is doin' in the Holy Land!

            After rolling out of bed at 7:15, I pull back our outdated green curtains and look out on the Old City. Every room here has a patio, and once after completing a worksheet on the Dome of the Rock, I walked onto ours, and there it stood, this giant gold dome. Right there! There's a joke here that if the Muslims ever polished it we'd all go blind. :P. For the next 3 months I get to share this experience with 82 other BYU students. My favorite class is Judaism, taught by Ophir Yardin. He is Jewish so wears a kippa, but is also day Ima ask him how it stays on. His lectures are letting me understand the Jewish culture better, and I feel more comfortable in the city the more I learn. Hebrew is my other favorite class. During our first lecture the Morah (teacher) promised us we’d know how to read the language by the end....a falsehood? Nope! Hebrew is so simple its impossible to make a mistake. I can sing a few Hebrew songs including Happy Birthday, and am trying to master the 26 letter alphabet. Mrs. Goldman is also a Jew and talks about her daily life. Here's a tidbit: a day in Jewish culture begins and ends at sundown, not midnight. Here's another: on your birthday you sit in a chair so that four macho men can then come and raise you up in the air til your new age---I'm fully expecting my brothers to lift me 20 times in April!
      What is amazing about being here is we go out into the city and on field trips and actually get to see these sites we study. The Western Wall is as close as the Jews can get to the Temple Mount (where the Dome of the Rock lies), because it belongs to the Muslims, so they worship at the Wall. Friday nights to welcome in Shabbat (Sabbath) I got to observe the women praying, dancing and singing--worshiping in their way. It was amazing to see such dedication and I even got to touch the wall!

Alright....was that a descriptive intro? Trying to condense a completely new life is actually quite difficult. It's like calculus except enjoyable. Neway, I love you all!

The Judean Wilderness

p.s. Shalom means peace, hello, and goodbye

  Left: Boys love to play marbles or tops in the streets. 
Right: Lys, Hannah, Amanda, and I with our olive wood rings. Omar, a local olive wood carver, loves BYU students and gave us these to "practice" for marriage :).