Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Welcome Shevet Lehava

Saturday night marked the end of Bnei Akiva's Shabbat Irgun which is the culmination of the month long Chodesh Irgun. Bnei Akiva is a religious zionist youth movement which is active worldwide. I was never involved with Bnei Akiva when I was a kid but because my best friend was very into it, I wound up going on Mach Hach b'kibbutz after 10th grade and on Hachshara after high school. Eventually, it was through Bnei Akiva that I met Arthur and the rest as they say is history. 
In Israel, Bnei Akiva is more political than it is abroad, and is the major though not the only youth movement for religious kids. Once all the holidays are over and the kids can get a routine going in school, Bnei Akiva embarks on Chodesh Irgun (Organization Month), to ensure that not too much learning takes place before the next big vacation (Chanuka). Baila described Chodesh Irgun as a month long color war but in fact it's more educational and is always centered on a theme, this year's being "למען שמו באהבה" or "For Hashem's name, in love."

A festive Shabbat Irgun (which on Zufim included a special misheberach during Torah reading by the gabay for the Bnei Akiva chanichim and madrichim) marks the end of the month long activities, followed by a performance with flags (daglanut) by the 9th graders who will be getting their permanent shevet name, the ceremony where each age group (shevet) ascends to the next shevet, the bestowing of the name of the new shevet, and performances by all the age groups. This year Maor is in 9th grade and a member of the newest shevet, Lehava. Lehava means flame and as the secretary general of Bnei Akiva, Rabbi Benny Nechteiler, said in his remarks "An everlasting fire burns in the heart of the youth, a fire of love for Hashem, the nation, and the country...your name expresses the power of love burning in the hearts and striving to exist through Torah and Avoda for Hashem's sake." Lehava   is also an acronym for לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה (Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem).

After being told their shevet name which is usually a closely guarded secret but for some reason was widely known this year, the kids get sweatshirts which were designed by their madrichim (counselors) and this is the detail of Maor's which reads: FLAME - because you don't mess with fire.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Chodesh tov!

The last few weeks have held exciting developments for me - I completed my master's degree in library and information science AND I found a job! Remarkably enough both things happened within the same 24 hours!

It's a great feeling to know I finished all the coursework for my degree and now I just need to wait for the paperwork to go through until I get the actual diploma. I originally planned/hoped to finish my degree while in California but I took on too much my last semester and wasn't able to complete my final culminating project, the e-portfolio. Then I was worried that I wouldn't actually finish it at all - I have this bad habit of not seeing things through to the end but I had a lot of encouragement from friends, family, schoolmates, and my advisor and I managed to finish with time to spare (very unlike me, the queen of procrastination). 

That same week, I had 3 job interviews lined up, all through the help of friends. I know that once you actually get the interview it's up to you but I find it extremely frustrating that it's so difficult to get that first foot in the door without protektzia (n. personal connections, or as they say in Hebrew: מי שיש לו קשרים לא צריך פרוטקציה). 

The job I accepted is not in the library or information field which is a bit of a bummer but it is related to the clinical trial field which was my second choice. I am a logistics coordinator at a company that provides logistic services to international companies performing clinical trials in Israel. The people, including the boss, are really nice and very welcoming and I'm hoping that it will be a good fit.

Image courtesy of I-Heart-God

Arthur is still job hunting and it's very difficult and frustrating though we're trying to stay upbeat and optimistic. He's had some interviews and I'm hoping that something pans out.

This coming Shabbat is Bnei Akiva's Shabbat Irgun, which ends chodesh irgun. If you're not familiar with these terms, you can get explanations at I'll call Baila or West Bank Mama. This year is particularly significant for us as Maor is in 9th grade and will therefore be receiving her shevet name, which accompanies you forever. As Uri Orbach so eloquently puts it in his book, What shevet are you in (באיזה שבט אתה, ספריית בית אל):

גם כשתהייה זקן בעוד 80 שנה  
גם כשתהייה כפוף בעזרת הנכדה הקטנה
גם כשכבר לא תוכל לראות בלי משקפיים
גם כשתתחיל לשכחו איפה הנחת את השיניים
גם כשלגמריי תשכח מקומות אירוכים ואנשים שלמדו איתך בכיתה
תמיד תזכור מיד
באיזה שבט אתה!

Even when you'll be old in another 80 years
Even when you'll be bent over with the help of your small granddaughter
Even when you won’t be able to see without glasses
Even when you start forgetting where you left your teeth
Even when you completely forget long ago places and people who learned with you in school
You’ll always immediately remember
What shevet you’re in!

Chodesh tov!