Friday, December 30, 2011

12/30/11: A Week In A Day: Goodbyes, Hellos, Holidays and... Hamas??

Since the departure of my sister one week ago, I have been working tirelessly to try and catch up on my work and daily life routine. Between that effort and the maintenance of my social life, I forgot to budget in time for the blog. Luckily I finally feel like I'm back to normal and will thus be resuming my (almost) daily posts.

It is hard to believe that another week has come and gone, and I'm fairly convinced that time slips by faster in Israel then back home. True, I am significantly busier here which undoubtedly has something to do with the fact that a month can go by in what feels like mere minutes, but regardless of this, I'm really starting to internalize and understand the ever so famous saying that "time flies". I will try to the best of my ability to adequately account for the past week without making this post a million pages long, but there were many things of note that took place over the last 8 days!

To start, I had the most wonderful 3 weeks with my step sister, Ida, and was so sad to have to say goodbye to her last Saturday night. In order to give her a proper send off we organized a rather large going away dinner at the lovely little sushi restaurant by my house. I'm averaging eating there about twice a week so they know me very well over there! The end of Chanukkah also coincided with her departure so it was a sad night all around. We were very good in the apartment and lit candles every night of the chag (holiday), but I did miss being at home surrounded by family very much.

The Cali Condo Chanukkiya 

After candles were lit and prayers were said we all headed down for Ida's last dinner. My two friends Sarah and Orlit were there to say their goodbyes to Ida, all of the roommates were present along with siblings and significant others, and it was a perfect end to her three week stay in Israel. 

 A little outnumbered by blondes! 

Sarah and me 

Orlit and Ida 

After dinner Sarah was kind enough to drive us to the airport where I said my final goodbye to Ida. I was so sad to see her leave but I know she will be back soon :-). I turned her into a Tel Avivit! The rest of the week was spent cleaning, studying, catching up on sleep, and trying to be as productive as possible in preparation for this weekend, which started with a classmates birthday part last night and will end with New years Eve tomorrow!! 

Before I go into details of my social adventures I will take this opportunity to briefly change the tone to one that is more academic. Since the semester is rapidly coming to a close papers are needing to be started and, in one case, finished. I have my first seminar paper due in less than one month and I have been working hard to compile enough research to write it well. The paper that is due in a month will be written on a very interesting, albeit radically different subject than what I am planning on focusing my main thesis on. I wanted to branch out a bit and chose to write on North African Sufism; more specifically the Gnawa who are Moroccan Sufis descended from slaves and soldiers from Sub-Saharan African. I will be examining how their Sub-Saharan roots and culture shape how they practice Islam and Islamic mysticism. 

The Gnawa during a music festival 
Though one paper topic was locked down, I was having trouble coming up with interesting and relevant subjects for my other two papers. At first I was strongly leaning towards writing about Jews from Arab lands, however, the more I thought about this the less it really fit in with what I want to do in the long run. If I merely wanted to get a PhD in history that would be one thing, but I came to this program knowing that I wanted to work for greater peace in this region (specifically dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), and in order to do so I need to really focus on gaining greater knowledge on everything concerning this region and this conflict. While I was gathering information on different journals and books regarding Palestinians and Israelis I came across an amazing quote from the man who wrote the book "Son of Hamas". He said, "“Love your enemies” is the only way to peace in the Middle East"- Mosab Hassan Yousef, and that made me realize that I need to spend some serious time getting to 
know the Palestinians, inside and out, along with studying Israeli politics, so that I will be able to fully understand the unrest in the region. Because of this I have decided to focus my next two papers on 
Hamas and Fatah, and will pick topics that incorporate the two Palestinian parties.

Now that I have dedicated a portion of this post to academics I can turn back to the social life free of guilt! Yesterday was yet another first and new experience for me. Moving in with the boys was fantastic but I have definitely been relying a bit too heavily on them in terms of my social life. Maybe it is because it is convenient going out with the people you live with, or maybe I was just being too lazy to forge my own way socially, but for whatever the reason, I have been starting to feel the need to branch out a bit. Luckily such an opportunity presented itself last night when one of my classmates had his 26th birthday party. 

Happy Birthday Jonny! 

It was so amazing spending the night out with people in my program and getting to know them better. I am so fortunate to be in a class filled with extremely bright and interesting people who, as I discovered last night, are so much fun to hang out with. We started at a bar in the center of town where we celebrated, had some drinks, and just genuinely enjoyed the evening. By 2:30-2:45am it was off to get a little snack, and then we headed to the beach to walk around for a little bit. Unfortunately, by 3:15am most things were closed and it was pretty freezing outside. Cold and mildly exhausted it was time for us to say goodnight and head home. It was a pretty perfect night and I had an amazing time, but by 4am I was very ready for some serious sleep! Tonight will be very mild to regain strength for New Years Eve! I still can't believe it is going to be 2012 but I have a feeling this is going to be an amazing year. How can it not be? It opens with a huge New Years party followed, 5 days later, by my 24th birthday :-) And, of course, in the mix I will attempt to be very productive at paper writing!! 

Stay tuned for a crazy New Years Eve post! 
Tisba7 3ala kheir ya chaverim <3,
Jordana Simone

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