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back again

Dear friends,

first of all, I want to apologize for the long hiatus. As I have already mentioned on Instagram, I have noticed that writing gives my day-to-day life some integrity, that I have been missing in the last weeks. Also, I am still getting used to the fact that here in Israel we don't have a Sunday to breathe, however, tomorrow classes start again. I am feeling more and more exhausted because of this lack of day to breath and so far, I don't know how to compensate. So much is going on so that I don't really have time during the week's evening to breath. 

Nevertheless, I will tell you what has been going on in the last weeks and what my accompanying thoughts have been. 

This last week has been the first week where some of the restrictions of the lockdown that started a month ago, have been released. That meant that teachers had the option to meet for class in the park, which many did take. This meant for me that I had a few classes in person in the park some days of the week. At first, I was very excited to be learning in person again and being able to learn with my chevruta in real life, however, it struck me that this is another transition that hinders the process of development of group dynamics in the class, especially with some people still not being able to join a class in person for various reasons.

We also had our first rain this week, which was very exciting, as I have never before experienced rain in Jerusalem. All the Jews around the world pray for rain since the end of Sukkot and now our prayers have been answered! A truly astounding experience! The air was so fresh like I have never smelled anywhere before!

This week I have also started my volunteering project, where I help an environmental scientist map burn sites in the West Bank. I was intrigued by this project because I love maps and I want to do something good for the environment. The burn sites are from Palestinians burning electronic waste to retrieve metals like copper and gold from them to then sell on the market. Many Palestinians have made this their source of income, as it is very difficult for them to go work in good-paying Jobs in Israel because of the barrier that separates Israel from the West Bank. The Palestinians who work in this - also teenagers and kids - suffer from many health issues like cancer and birth defects due to the black toxic smoke and the environment also pays a very high price from this pollution - olive trees die, water is being contaminated and domestic animals suffer too. During the presentation of the project, I was in utter shock about what was happening only a few kilometres away. We - that is me and some of my fellow Pardesniks - will help map the burn sites to provide accurate data on the situation. 

On a nicer note, I have been observing the moon, which has been setting later and later every evening with great awe and noticed (something that I couldn't see in Berlin) that when the moon is not full, it is possible to see the silhouette of the not-illuminated side of the moon and that made me feel even more amazed at the moon! I have also been watching Mars, who is currently closer to earth than usually shine very bright in the east in the evening sky. My flatmate and I even managed to make a zoomed-in photo of a very bright Mars:

Another amazing thing that stared this week is Pardes' Scribal Arts class on Wednesday evening! I especially went to a store on Agrippas to buy a calligraphy pen (my first time on Agrippas!!). In the first session, we learned about some basic facts about scribing and learned how to write a "Bet". I was curious so I looked on the internet how the other letters looked in detail so I just did my best at copying them with my calligraphy pen and here are the results!

I also had a zoom out moment during class one day, how genuinely awesome it is to be at Pardes and learning Torah with great teachers in Jerusalem. I zoomed back to the day when I was sitting in University and just wishing I could be learning Torah all day. So here I am now, living my dream! Yes, it's a lot, but it's so worth it!

PS: I really want to commit to writing at least once a week, so please hold me responsible for it!


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