(Preface- this was written a few days ago, but I forgot to post it. Entries related to recent events such as Women of the Wall coming soon!)
So I spent a while trying to think of a creative title for my blog, so long in fact that I was able to come up with absolutely nothing. A nice classmate of mine told me that Julie in Jerusalem is cute and alliterative so I decided that instead of being blog-less as more stories/experiences occur, I should just go with it. I'm hopeful that I will actually keep up with this blog and will remind myself that this will be a great way to remember this year since I definitely don't have the best memory!
I've been here about 5 days so far, though it certainly feels like more. Mostly because each day has been pretty full and I'm still adjusting to the time and the new-ness of everything. My first full day was July 4th, which we celebrated with a "American" barbecue. While there were no fireworks and certainly no baseball (though the A's won in dramatic fashion which made me happy), we celebrated atop a gorgeous overlook in Abu Tor. It was great to meet many of my classmates and we did manage to enjoy a round of This Land is Your Land, which I learned has many alternative lyrics from various countries.
Other highlights included a very thought-provoking trip to Bethlehem (more on that in another post) and Shabbat services and dinner with classmates. Several fellow students led services, and it was really wonderful to be in an environment where everyone is praying, committed and in the moment. The leaders stopped at various moments during the service to ask about our various customs and, unsurprisingly, there was both a lot of diversity and commonalities in the room. Mostly I just really appreciated the beautiful harmonies that naturally occurred during various prayers when our backgrounds taught us slightly different tunes. We finished services by singing l'chi lach, and I literally had chills in that pretty cheesy "wow I'm actually here and doing this" sense. That Debbie Friedman tune has always held a special place in my heart and hearing it sung by my (many) musically talented classmates was awesome. There are seven cantors, but at least 10 other songleader/insanely talented singer types in addition.
I also went on a campus tour today, where, among other things, we walked to this overlook at the back of campus. The land was leased to the reform movement in the early 1960s, and it was not so ideal because the Jordanians used to have military guards atop the walls in the background. After Jerusalem was unified, the space in the middle became less volatile and now leads to an amazing view!
Tomorrow begins orientation and classes start next week. I'm excited to have a more solidified schedule and get a chance to meet and chat with everyone.