Friends or Acquaintances?

Earlier this morning over breakfast, my parents and I got into a discussion about what it means to have friends.  The conversation stemmed from an earlier question my niece asked: is man meant to have friends? After the conversation between my parents and myself, I thought about what the word friends mean and how people’s definitions and uses of it affects our society.

With Facebook a lot of us have friends.  Most of us have friends we either don’t talk to very often, or haven’t seen or spoken to in years. I am guilty of this, and I know other people are too. I personally have over 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, I talk to maybe, MAYBE, 200 of them on a semi-regular basis. Now, this isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It does make me think about what someone means when they say they are friends with this person; are they acquaintances, close friends, work colleagues? No one uses these specific terms in casual conversation, especially in college, so I am still left this with hanging question of what does it mean to be friends with someone.

I see the merits in calling everyone a friend; it’s simpler and moves the conversation along. My mom made the point that in today’s era, the word “friends” has become an umbrella for every human interaction you have. I actively try to differentiate between acquaintances, someone I know through class and my close friends. It gets tiring and I can forget sometimes.

However, I had never thought about how much pressure this word puts on kids in younger grades. With my hope of becoming an elementary school teacher, thinking about the effect it has on a first grader when you say friend was astounding. What do they consider a friend? If their teacher makes it seem like such a big deal to their parents that a child doesn’t have friends, how does that child feel? In high school groups and cliques exist so people don’t feel lonely. It’s a little absurd when I think about it now, three years into college, but it’s very true. Think Mean Girls.

The college experience is one where you hang out with the people you see and have common interests in. For the longest time during my freshman year, I felt a huge amount of pressure to seek out friends and people to hang out with. I never really thought about the fact that they would come to me naturally once I got involved on campus. I know that now that I am starting my senior year in the fall. I can confidently call the people I live with, the people I sat next to in class everyday, and the people I work with on the various clubs and organizations on campus my friends. Everyone else I like to put them in another umbrella: acquaintances.

I still wonder how this can be explained to a first grader, but for now, I will be satisfied with my group of closer friends I have common interests with and a large amount of acquaintances or former classmates on Facebook.

 

 

Shabbat In Israel

Being in Israel for Shabbat, the day of rest is always an interesting experience. Jerusalem, which has been full of cars and noise the past few days, has practically shut down. I could see one or two cars outside my hotel room window but for the most part it’s very quiet and serene. Walking back through Jerusalem from dinner last night was really beautiful.

The city had a sense of calmness and while it was still warm, a balmy 80 degrees, it was a nice walk with great conversation. Being in Israel has brought a lot of different reunions with old family friends and some more recent friends of my parents. It has been nice not being with my parents exclusively because the people we usually meet up with have really interesting stories and the conversation is always engaging.

Today was warm and there were expected dust storms in Jerusalem. Today was an indoor day.  We might be exhausting our indoor days since the temperatures have been a little unbearable since we’ve been here. I’m starting to feel like Goldilocks, London was too cold and Israel is too hot. I’m really hoping Greece will be just right.

Being in the hotel has been so relaxing.  It would definitely have been a lot more stressful and less pleasant being in a house.  It has been really nice being back at the same hotel with the same staff, who just look older but have not changed in all the years we’ve been coming to the Inbal, and the same rooms, which also, for the record, look identical. It’s basically like we were coming home. Who could have asked for more?

There is talk about leaving earlier if the temperatures stay this hot. I guess those plans are to be determined at a later date after examining the weather.  For now, I will enjoy being here and spending quality time with my parents because once we get back it becomes a big, rowdy happy family again.

Yom Yerushalayim, Dinner with Friends, Yad Vashem and More!

As our second day in Israel winds down, it has been two very long but meaningful days. Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim so we went into the Old City to explore the festivities. With Fival, the new head of Nesiya, a program I went on the summer my sophomore year of high school, as our guide we saw amazing views of the Golden Dome and the Western Wall. Walking around the Old City was beautiful but by the end of the walk we were feeling the heat. We scouted out some cold drinks and shade nearby to escape it a bit. The beauty of iced coffee in Israel, or Ice Café as they call it, there is always ice cream in it. It’s wonderful.

After we walked around the Old City, we came back to the hotel and relaxed. Getting food in Israel on a gluten free diet has not been the easiest thing. It will help me eat less unhealthy food and stick to meats, fish and healthy carbs like rice. Unless they use powders that contain gluten, alright Israel, whatever you say. Eating at the hotel has not been so easy – my breakfasts have been eggs and fruit, so I am pretty hungry by noon. When we don’t eat lunch until two PM, it is a problem.

Once we got back to the hotel I went to the gym for a bit. Earlier I went to Nike and bought clothes so I could do some sort of exercise. I am already feeling better. My mom and I went to the salon on the bottom floor of the hotel. It was the sketchiest salon I have been to in a long time. We had made appointments for 4 PM but since there is only one woman working there, I started and by the time my mom came back, some Israeli woman had taken the last chair. Clearly first come first serve is a policy in Israel. It took her 25 minutes. I spent more time ironing it this morning to fix it. For anyone who knows how tough curly hair is to blow out, 25 minutes did not do such a good job. My hair is long, very curly and thick. It takes at least 40 minutes. Needless to say, we are looking for an alternative.

We had dinner with a family friend of my parents later. He helped start up a college called Shalem here in Israel. It is based more on the American four-year model, a very different model than the current one in Israel. He is an interesting person. He always seems to have something interesting to talk about or a topic that we can all discuss. Apparently he was able to seem cool when interviewing kids for an internship he was setting up because he knew what Liquid Latex was thanks to our previous conversations. I got major props for that. It turns out someone is attempting to start it at another school, I am a little curious who and where.

We had the chance to visit the new college he started and meet some students today. Their campus is one building. It’s a moderately new school, with their first class of 50 kids. The building was very beautiful. It was full of Jerusalem stone and had really beautiful natural light. I still can’t imagine a school that fits into one building. Seeing Shalem College after being immersed at Brandeis for three years was a bit of a culture shock so to speak. We had the chance to sit down with different students and meet them. Turns out, I had a mutual friend with one of them who I know from Brandeis. Go Jewish Geography! What was really shocking is that they take six classes in each semester. They basically said all they do is schoolwork, I can’t even imagine.

Once we left there, we hopped in a cab, seems like all we do is take cabs to get to places, it’s getting a little nauseating, and went to Ben Yehuda Street. It hasn’t really changed since I was last there, little knick knack shops, tourist destinations, a lot of fast-food restaurants and not a whole lot of shade. Once we left there, in a cab again, we went over to Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial museum. That is never an easy trip but since it’s been years, I wanted to go back. There isn’t all that much I can say about it but it just reminded me how many lives were lost by Hitler’s hand and how much devastation the Jews experienced in those few years.

Now that we are back in our hotel, we are resting before heading out for dinner with the previous principle of my old elementary school and his wife. They moved to Israel years ago and they asked to meet for dinner to catch up.  That will be, interesting, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a conversation with him and I never really knew his wife. This trip will be full of meet-ups with old friends and I am very okay with that, for the most part.

“Frozen” According to a 21 Year-Old Disney Child

Disney’s most recent animated movie, “Frozen”, came out a few months ago and it has been all my friends and the children I teach can talk about. It has also quickly become my new favorite animated movie, with The Lego Movie a close second. This is one of the things that happen when you are a teacher to young kids: you start to hear about the movies they are watching and have to watch them so you can understand what they talk about in school. It’s a tough life.

I am a total fan of “Frozen”. From the well thought out characters, the plot, the plot twist that shows major girl power, the setting, the message it gives off to people who watch it and of course the music, it is a perfect movie for all ages. The fact that I can recite the movie by heart at this point may be a sign that I’ve seen it once too many times, or maybe three times too many, but I keep on finding new things every time I do. I get a better understanding for what the songs are saying, notice new character traits, new things about how they set up the structure of the movie and start to look at it in a more critical manner, while singing along with hand motions, of course.

The next best thing to the movie is the various parodies that have been released and videos people have done with bits and pieces of it. My top three favorites I have seen on YouTube are “Let It Go” Multi-Language, Kids React to “Let It Go” Multi-Language, and the parody “Do You Want to Hide a Body”. These three videos are so well done and play off the original film in ways that are timeless and are videos you can re-watch again and again. “Frozen” will most definitely be my favorite animated Disney movie for a long time.

Do You Want to Hide a Body

“Let It Go” Multi-language 

Kids React to “Let It Go” Multi-language 

 

Cheerio England, Shalom Israel!

As we embark from England and head off to Israel for the second leg of our three and a half week adventure through Europe, there are so many things I am looking forward to that I missed while we were in England. For one thing, I can’t wait to actually have some warm weather – it was so cold in England, cold being 50-65. I have so many shorts, tank tops and sandals I still have to wear.

I am a little excited to actually eat something besides Risotto and fish. It’s about time to get some meat and real protein. In Israel, that won’t be an issue at all, which is very exciting. According to people in Israel, it might be a problem finding grass-fed meat or wild fish in Israel. Since that is all we eat at home, we’lphotol see how that turns out and how I react to non grass-fed meat and farm raised fish. It will be a nice break before we go to Greece and are eating mostly fish again. It felt like England was becoming the vacation of risottos and rain.

It will be nice to be in Israel again. It’s been years since I’ve been there and according to my parents, a lot has changed. Seeing all of those changes will be very cool. It will also be nice to maybe meet up with some old friends who are in the Israeli Army now or living in Israel. It will be a nice break from our regular life and change of pace from England. The pace is much slower and relaxed, unlike England where everyone seemed to be in a hurry.

It’s funny, you know you are flying into Israel when you see other Jews on your flight and part of the menu is in Hebrew. I can’t wait to walk around the shuk, the Israeli Market Place, Emek Refaim, Ben Yehuda Street and go to all the museums I love but haven’t been to in years. I think we are planning to go to Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial museum, the Israel museum and make sure to get to some of the things happening around Jerusalem for Yom Yerushalaim. It will be a fun and hopefully restful adventure. Now that we have relocated to our usual hotel, everyone seems a little less stressed and ready to really enjoy the vacation.

 

Welcome to the Napping House

After five jam-packed days in England, today was the perfect day to sit around and do absolutely nothing. It rained today, which is not all that different from what it has been the entire time we’ve been here. The prospect of going outside into the chilly weather and the rain was less than appealing. Fortunately, we have a lot of comfy couches and a spacious living room.

This trip has certainly been a whirlwind of all sorts and having a day to sit down, relax and unpack it has been very nice. I haven’t really had a day like this since my nieces Bat Mitzvah. I forgot how nice and necessary it is to do nothing but sit and rest. Since I’m not working out at all while we are traveling, and it is already putting a strain on me, I need to find other ways to get that “me” time I usually get when I go to the gym.

Today showed me this is definitely an alternative method to the gym.  Once we leave for Israel tomorrow morning and then Greece a few days after that, it will be a lot easier to have more of these moments. Walking around will be a lot more enjoyable since it will be warm and sunny. I can sit by the pool or the beach in Santorini, read a book and do nothing else.

I don’t think I have ever felt so done with my jeans. I want to wear the shorts I bought, my cute tank tops, and my sandals. I only bought so many pairs of socks because I figured I wouldn’t really need them. I have one left and I’m saving it for the plane ride tomorrow.

We need to get up at 5:30 so we can get to the airport for our flight. The saving grace is that I can actually sleep on the plane we are taking so I won’t be totally wiped out. All three of us are totally exhausted by now. Hopefully, all of us will get a good night’s sleep so we are re-energized for our second leg of the trip.