5, 6, 7, 8

Well, I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t been able to write until now (I’m on a week break from school), but I’ve been doing some great things that happen to take up a lot of my time!

For starters I have a new internship for this website: http://www.israelbehindthenews.com/.  This is a great opportunity for me to learn about the field of journalism and to get some experience with shooting interviews and investigative reporting.  I will be going on my first assignments this week and have been doing background research on issues involving Israel and I am learning a lot!  

Secondly, I have been rehearsing for A Chorus Line, my first musical in Israel!  You can check out our blog here:  https://medium.com/@AChorusLineJlm.  Encore/Star-Catcher is an English-speaking theatre company in Jerusalem, and I have been cast to play Valerie Clark, a sassy, sarcastic, and talented young dancer.  I couldn’t be more thrilled to be involved with this production, as I have been meeting so many great new people and of course being on stage again is the highest!  Just when I was really missing dancing I discovered this audition and am now lucky enough to be dancing…and singing, 3 times a week.  I am also getting to know my castmates, who all have such interesting stories about their journeys to Israel.  They are attempting to teach me Hebrew through children’s songs, the best way to learn!  A group of us went to see Aida last week at Hebrew University, which was amazing!  It’s strange that only 4 years ago I was performing the same show at UCSB in my first production with Shrunken Heads.  I feel like I’ve come a long way since that freshman girl and am now so blessed to be able to continue to pursue my passions.  For those of you who are just a bit too far to make it there will be a video of the show so don’t worry!  Until then I’ll be busy practicing my harmonies, tap routines, and kick lines!

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Hope all is fantastic at home!

 

Xoxo,

 

Rachel

A Very Griswold Vacation

Yes, folks, your favorite family (aka The Griswolds) sans the lil devil child took a trip to the Holy Land!  My parents and I traveled for 3 weeks all over the country together, visiting all the major sights and getting lost one, two, or twelve times along the way.  But what would be a Frazin family vacation without a few bumps in the road?  Or roadblocks due to the massive amount of rain and snow that hit this country since a century!  Jersualem was beautiful and we got trapped, I mean, were fortunate enough to spend 3 WHOLE days together…in a tiny hotel room.  But don’t fret, for there was a marathon of “The X-Factor” to keep us busy, not to mention all of the Jesus shows on National Geographic right in time for X-mas. Nevertheless, we made the best of our time together those winter days and ended our trip on some exciting notes visiting the oasis of Ein Gedi, riding camels, and visiting Masada and the Dead Sea.

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The Old City looked like a snow globe!

Thankfully before the storm we were able to travel up North to some places I’ve never been, including an ancient Muslim fortress named after King Nimrod.  We also went all over Jerusalem, and probably the best part was my mom’s reaction to seeing the Kotel (Western Wall) for the first time, it was priceless!
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The Frazins get spiritual at the Kotel

Of course the parents couldn’t stop snapping pics, reminding me that I indeed live in one of the most amazing places in the world!  Sometimes it is easy to take for granted that I am living in Eretz Israel, after generations of my people so deeply yearning to be here.  But being here with my parents reminded me of how special it is and I was happy to share that with them.  I was hoping they would want to stay with me, but to no avail.  Some people just can’t handle rude Israelis, crazy bus drivers, and bad service, but  I don’t blame them.  There is that part of me that misses my cozy home with all the comforts (my mom’s baking), but I can be cozy when I’m old (no offensive Mom and Dad).  For now, I’ll take my freezing caravan and fly ridden shuk because hey, you only live once (not to quote Lil Wayne), and I want to make the most of it!  Missing my parents already and all of you at home, let me know about your adventures!

With Love,

Rachel
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Peace in the Middle East!
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The family at the Dead Sea! It was freezing but my mom forced me in with her!DSCN1018

Here, There, and Everywhere

Hello family and friends! Here is a summary of my most recent vacation, which was about two month ago haha, there was so much to write I was overwhelmed.  It started with the holiday of Sukkot where we decorated, ate, and slept in our sukkah.  It felt great to sleep outside under the stars and have a sleepover with the girls

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Me decorating the Sukkah!

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The outside of our sukkah

Then I left for Jerusalem to spend some of Sukkot with a family I met on my previous trips to Israel.  They are a young couple and her family was from Britain and they took me in as their own, which is nice because I am so far from you all.  But of course you could never be replaced :)

One special day of Sukkot there was an art and music fair at a moshav (town), I went with a few girls from my school and we walked around looking at the different arts and crafts and beautiful people.  The music was very spiritual and uplifting and it was inspiring to see all different types of Jews singing and dancing together.  I almost felt like I was at home at a festival in Isla Vista because everyone was so loving and free.  I most recently went back to spend Shabbat there with a family who I met at the festival.  They were so chill, the father is a musician who used to play in Rev Shlomo Carlebach’s band!  Rev Shlomo is a huge musical and spiritual inspiration for me.  He had a whole recording studio in his basement with old records and a disco ball, I felt like I was transported back to the 70s!  There is a nearby forrest, which his son showed me around, there was a lemon tree grove and even ruins from the Maccabees, just in time for Hanukkah.  It was a lovely time!

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My California girls at the Moshav fair!

I also went into Mea Shearim, an extremely religious neighborhood, where there were tons of Hasidim (a type of religious person), I felt out of place being in such a different environment then I was used to, but one woman took us to a concert with a folk Jewish band and then I felt more at home.  Although those people live a different life then myself, it is important to remember that we are all Jews and are connected in that way.

For Simchat Torah (the holiday where we end and begin the Torah), I went to a neighborhood in Jerusalem where there are a mix of people, and I went to a temple where there was so much singing and dancing, it was amazing!  Men and women danced and sang for hours, songs that celebrated the Torah and the Jewish people.  It was inspiring to be around these people because they had such a zest for life and were very spiritual.  I was able to connect with that aspect, rather than the normal prayers that occur at shul it’s hard for me to understand because everything is in Hebrew, but with music it doesn’t matter if I understand the words haha.

After this we headed to one of the 4 holy cities of Israel, Tiberias, the city of Water.  Tiberias is right on the Kineret (Sea of Galilee), we headed across the sea to a place that is popular for camping.  We met up with a couple friends there and pretty much had the whole campsite to ourselves.  It was by far the most relaxing time.  My friend brought a paddleboard and I went for the first time, it was invigorating and freeing.  We spent the whole day in the water and went night swimming by the moonlight.  It was really a place to gather my thoughts and be in touch with nature.  The boys we were with made the campfire, of course, because we all know our family doesn’t mess with that lol.

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Paddle boarding on the Kineret!

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Me, Sara, and Sophie in Tiberias.  Sara is my madricha (counselor) who also went to UCSB!

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Enjoying the water and sun on Dugit Beach.

I also traveled north to Tzfat to visit a family I am very close with, the Fowlers.  They were the JAM family in Santa Barbara so I would go to them for Shabbat every week, play with their kids and learn from them.  It was great to see them and tour around the Old City of Tzfat, where the father now works at the Yemenite pancake restaurant.  He made us a special pancake pizza with sheep cheese, my first time trying it.  Tzfat is known as one of the 4 holy cities and the element of Air.  It is the center of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism and is a very special place.

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Me and Yehuda, kinda my Rabbi, and yes that is his real hair.

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My friend Sophie and I with our special Yemenite pizza!

All together with my fieldtrip to Hebron at the beginning of the break, I visited all 4 of Israel’s holy cities in 1 month!  It was such a unique experience to see the different aspects of the land and meet a variety of different people along the way.

Hope to hear about what you all are doing, be in touch!

Love,

Rachel

Camping at the Cave!

This Shabbat was very special because it was the parsha (Torah portion) that explained Sarah, our mother’s, life and death.  The people of Israel have a tradition to travel to the Machpela Cave in Hevron, where our forefathers and foremothers are buried.  People camp out in tents or stay in the area with families that open up their homes to the thousands of Jews that come.  I’m told this year there were about 15,000 people.  It was a unique time at the Machpela because it is one of the only times during the year that Isaac and Rebecca’s tombs are open, as well as the place where it is said the entrance to the Garden of Eden is!  You can go to the space and smell, different people smell different things, I smelled the beach! Surprise, surprise lol.  But it really was amazing to spend Shabbat with so many people, and to be outside, where we did Kabbalat Shabbat (Friday night services).  Everywhere I walked I heard people singing Shabbat songs and enjoying food together.  The girls from my school and I cooked our own dinner and challah before Shabbat, which was our first time baking challah here.  It is a great mitzvah to bake challah so I was glad I could share that with the girls.  We also ran into some friends and we shared wine, stories, and Torah together until late into the night.  I did get woken up at 4am to the Arabs praying, which was an unexpected wake up call, but at least I was familiar with their prayers so I knew what was going on.  There were tons of Israeli soldiers all around protecting all of the people so I felt safe.  The next day we hung around the camping area, prayed in the cave, and then went to the Third Meal and Havdalah at a local rabbi’s house.  There were tons of young yeshiva boys and seminary girls there and a lot of singing which of course I loved! I am learning some gorgeous tunes here that hopefully I can come back and share with you all.  It was a beautiful Havdalah service with everyone singing together and saying goodbye to Shabbat.  I am so thankful to have had this experience!

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Rachel + 6

It’s been a crazy couple weeks here in the Holy Land but I’ll start with my Shabbat a couple weeks ago.  I was invited to spend Shabbat with a family that I babysat for that lives in Bat Ayin.  We went to a city called Rishon Lezion which is right on the coast of the Mediterranean.  The mom is a really cool artistic woman and she has 5 kids plus a nephew.  I have never been around that many kids for an extended period of time so needless to say I was exhausted the whole weekend!  But the kids and I had a great time playing on the beach, and I got to witness what being part of a big family was like.  Despite the amount of fun I had I think I will be waiting a while before embarking on that journey.

Another exciting thing that happened was I came across a group of Israeli dancers, a big group of Israelis doing traditional folk dancing right on the beach.  It was inspiring to witness these people carry on the traditions of our ancestors and keep the Israeli culture alive.  Much of Israeli culture has been influenced by American popular culture so it was nice to see Israelis going back to their roots.  Israeli music is so beautiful I don’t understand why they like American music so much, but I guess that is my just my personal preference.

Overall I learned a lot from spending time with this family and had a great Shabbat! Next to come is my family adventures!

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Beach in Rishon, gorgeous view

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Lil youngins I was with

Shabbat and more!

So this was my first Shabbat in Bat Ayin and it was everything that I expected it to be and more.  We went to the local shul (temple) and although everything was in Hebrew, there were beautiful songs  that got me into the spirit.  I then went to a local family for dinner who mainly spoke Hebrew, but the mother was American.  She was a musician so we had a lot in common.  Many people here are artistic and creative and I am looking for opportunities to maybe do some theatre here!  

This is also a perfect setting for self reflection as it is quiet and we are learning meditation.  We had a yoga class today which was very relaxing and teaches the importance of a healthy mind and body.  Yesterday we had a gardening class which is amazing because there are many similarities between plants, humans, and the elements.  I will be learning how to grow spearmint and peppermint soon!  Another highlight of my week has been the meteor shower that I was able to watch over the sky last night.  It was wondrous to experience and made me feel so blessed to be in this country.  

I hope you all are having amazing times at home as well!

 

Beach Time!

Ok so this post is kind of old because the internet wasn’t working, but I went to Tel Aviv Thursday night and Friday to spend some time with one of my friends from my winter Israel trip!  A new friend from seminary and I stayed at his apartment right near the Mediterranean Sea so we were able to hang out on the beach at night.  The lights of the city look really beautiful at night, as Tel Aviv could be compared to Israel’s New York City.  In the morning we woke up and went to Shuk HaCarmel which is an outdoor market with many Arab and Israeli vendors selling fruit, vegetables, clothes, and anything else one would need. Vendors yell things like “ladies come try my bananas!” For breakfast we got freshly made smoothies in the shuk.  All of the fruits and vegetables sold here and throughout the country are grown in Israel because we have very fertile soil, and I believe there are little pesticides and hormones used.  After that we headed back to the beach as the weather is very humid in Tel Aviv during the summer days.  We needed to cool off so headed straight for the water, which is refreshing but the perfect temperature where you can walk right in.  After the beach we were hungry so we sought out some “Mexican” food, which was 3 times the price and 4 times worse than real Mexican food.  Makes me miss California, but I think I’ll take the Mediterranean Sea over Mexican food any day.  Until next time Taco Shop… Overall it was a great visit!  Now I’m preparing for my first Shabbat in Israel in quite a while.  I’ll be staying in Bat Ayin so hopefully I’ll meet some nice families! Shabbat Shalom!

ImageRandom cool wall we found in Tel Aviv.  The city is surrounded with street art.

Boker Tov

So this is my first morning at B’erot Bat Ayin, I was woken up at 4:30am (jet lag) by a rooster and what sounded like Muslims praying but I’m not sure.  The town of Bat Ayin is surrounded by Arab villages, as it is in the hills of Judea-Samerea (aka the West Bank).  The West Bank is comprised of both Jewish and Arab villages and is a politically controversial area.  However, the environment seems to be peaceful here with many animals roaming about and a fantastic view of the mountains.  It will be a nice change from what I am normally used to in Temecula and Santa Barbara.  No more getting woken up by my mom yelling at my dogs (or my Dad), and no more dubstep wake-up calls (I’ll miss you IV).  Yes, this is definitely going to be a great change, but sometimes we need that in our lives.  We have great potential to adapt, and even though we can be uncomfortable with change, it can also make us grow in amazing ways.

The Journey Begins!

Ok so I’m gonna try out this blog thing while I’m away on my adventure.  Right now I’m awaiting my first flight stop to Paris, France, on my way to the Holy Land.  This is something I have been waiting to do for a  long time ever since my first trip on Birthright.  I knew that I wanted to move to Eretz Israel at some point in my life and here is my shot!  I don’t know what to expect, but I’m hoping for the best.  It’s definitely gonna be a roller coaster ride, but hey what’s life without taking a little risk?  I will keep you all updated on my ups and downs, let’s see what’s in store!