As you may remember, Saturday was my day of travel. I rarely enjoy getting from A to B by plane and this time was no exception. The trip was made so much more uncomfortable by acute back pain and sciatica. But I made it and fell into bed close to three o’clock in the morning. Sunday was devoted to rest and unpacking, getting to know my fellow students and more rest. In the evening we had a welcome meal to celebrate the start of the academic year and also the start of Simchat Torah and the end of Sukkot. The meal was made up of local traditional dishes, the highlight being the main course – maqlooba, an upside down rice and vegetable dish. I felt a bit like a yo-yo the whole day as I was never able to sit for more than a few minutes without having to get up and move about because of the pain I was in.
Even though Monday was a holiday for all of Jerusalem, our classes started bright and early at 8:30. I didn’t even make it through an hour of class though before a fellow student with a sprained ankle and I were taken to emergency medical care – to check the foot was only sprained and not broken and for me to get some decent pain relief. It turned out to be so decent that I couldn’t do anything but lie down for a few hours before lunch. As an aside, the emergency care here is so fast and good! The set-up is a bit like the “maisons médicales” back home, not a full hospital ER, but everything you would need for most walk-ins. Lunch back at our classroom location gave me an energy boost, which I was able to use to join some of my fellow students on a guided walk to the Old City and the Western Wall.
Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah) is the day in the Hebrew calendar when the annual reading cycle of the Torah ends and begins again. Part of the celebrations include men going to the Western Wall and congregating together with beautifully “dressed” and decorated scrolls of Torah, which they hold in their arms as they dance around in circles and sing. As ladies we were able to go into the ladies’ section of the Kotel and peer over the dividing wall into the men’s section. What fun to watch the celebrations! We weren’t allowed to take pictures so here’s a picture of a painting I have at home, which gives you a very good idea of what was going on! A long walk back brought us to our evening meal at our classroom location.
Tuesday morning was spent in class on my feet, as I still cannot sit without being in agony, and in the afternoon we ran a few errands – fun stuff like getting a SIM card (not activated yet at time of writing) and snacks to eat (mainly nuts). After such a long day on my feet I was glad to get to bed as I felt my back getting worse.
Wednesday finally got me my prescription of pain medication to at least allow my body to relax and ease the healing. I was also given the loan of a yoga mat to lie on while in class. I am so thankful for such an accommodating classroom situation. Total immersion with many of us being sick or handicapped in the first week means we are learning lots of useful vocabulary! Not for Bible translation, but for every day living, which is what our language acquisition is focusing on just now. We have language mentors living in our hostel with us and they are great at being strict with us. All communication since Monday morning has been in Hebrew, whether written or spoken, and even though I have a pretty good foundation of Hebrew I feel like with the pain my brain has been wiped clean of all languages, Hebrew especially. It’s rather frustrating. So I have spent my washday (Wednesday afternoons are my allotted washing time – something which has to be done with 30 students and two washers and dryers!) revising my vocabulary from my teacher back home. I am so glad I scanned it all into my phone!!!
Tomorrow we’re off on a selfie race. We have a map of the area we are living in and will be given a set of instructions (in Hebrew of course) and will have to photograph ourselves at each location that we are supposed to find. What fun!
Next time I’ll give you a Hebrew guided tour of my room and a little taste of our lessons. Lehitraot!!!