Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Last night in Israel--and tomorrow morning, I go to the Wall...

I'm packed.  I have my travel documents ready (but for checking in, which I can't do yet).  I've checked baggage weight--and hope it's right.
I have my clothes ready to go for tomorrow's trip to the Wall.  That, by the way, may turn out to be a problem. I'm going with my host, who has a gimpy leg and walks very slowly.  She wants to drive and meet the group.  They want us to go on a bus for safety.  But the bus meets far away from where my host lives and it's one-way. So we drive, then have to make our own way back.  Which I think would be very difficult for her.  I would probably do it, but I really don't want to go alone.  So...we're doing it our way, which is what two stubborn old Jews would do anyway...I really hope there's no trouble.  And I'm wearing Grandma Ruth's skirt, just because she's like it--and like to be there! (It has the added benefit of being black, so I may unnoticed.) I really hope I'm over-thinking this...
I went off to the Hebrew University Library today, where I worked on the bibliography. Which Word makes remarkably easy to manage--this may be a case where something takes less time rather than more.
But the best part was randomly deciding to see if Hebrew University has some of the books/journals I simply haven't been able to find in Berkeley.  And...they did!  This was actually a day when I did things right.  That is, I took the right turn to get to the main library.  Then I followed directions (meaning I randomly took a path to where the conference had been last week and apparently I remembered correctly), then went down a long hall, where I looked lost enough that someone volunteered to help me.  Found the library and got help from a librarian--the Education library is mostly on a second floor--I'm looking around the first floor which is mostly seductive children's books.  So she writes a call number on a slip of paper is doubtful whether I can find it.  All I can think is "honey, it's call numbers.  I can do call numbers."  Which, of course, I could.  I could also navigate the online system for journals pretty competently--better than either librarian.  Just couldn't do the language...So I'm feeling really good about getting the articles.
And then had one more falafel--aka Middle Eastern burrito.  I insisted on lots of hot sauce, which made him raise his eyebrows.  I thought about saying "Hey, I'm from California.  We got hot sauce there too," but didn't.  And it was toasty, but not unpleasant--just right.  Oh and the falafel balls had just come out of the cooker.  Man, it just doesn't get better than that.
One note about the rides back and forth to the National Library.  I spent much of the time watching the many, many Orthodox families with tons of kids all over.  I have a very mixed reaction--on the one hand, it's clear that in many ways the dress is simply that--dress.  That is, whether people are wearing jeans or head-scarves or sheitls, movement and conversation looks similar--the way women walk, move their heads, and so on. At the same time, I got a bit tired of black.  Black suits for men; black skirts for women. Not a lot of color.  Not sure what to make of that--it wasn't like the color really mattered in way they lived their lives: the little girls still scampered around, even the big girls did some scampering.  And frankly, they looked better and happier than the skinny woman wearing tight-fitting pants with a camel's toe (look it up if you have to...). But I wonder about tomorrow--how many of these people will be there tomorrow dictating terms, not only of their practice, but of mine?

Finally, here's what I'm thinking as I'm summing up the trip.  I still haven't been to Caesarea.  Or Masada. Or the Dead Sea--although it's just out my window, mocking me.  But I've been to Tel Dan and Dag al Dan for some of the best fish I've ever had.  I've had a Shabbat in heaven at Hanaton with a wonderful family.  I've navigated the post office and making copies and jogged by the Mediterranean and Akko's Old City.  And regularly gone shopping at the shuk and grocery stores.  And taken buses.  I've found a rhythm to writing and work that is very satisfying and I'm finding my literal voice as a scholar--having real conversations with other scholars. There's more...but that will do for now...

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