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Tue, Aug. 15th, 2006, 06:00 pm

Well, I'm back.

I'm sick, deaf in one ear (thank you, airline travelling), and have a sixpack from coughing and crying too much. But I'm back.

...Back? Wtf does that mean?

Let me say that, guess what, kids, this summer has made me realise just how few friends I have here.
I have made lifelong friends in the US and Israel this summer, and we love each other absolutely and unconditionally.

How many of you are really that there for me?

Which leads me to the conclusion:
After university, I plan to work in Argentina or Mexico with their Jewish communities for some time, and get my acting/writing career on the move. And then, I plan on making aliyah.

I want to leave the United States. I hate it here. All these horrible memories.
Israel meant so much. I won't even begin to detail it here. I'm probably going to post my journal entries (written ones), but they're most likely going to be private. Just for me. You know.

Israel is hard to describe. It's so different from the United States, and yet some things are fundamentally the same. All I know is, I felt something there I've never felt for any other place. Which is why I don't belong in this country ever again.

It sucks to be back. That's all I can say.

Another thing. I am now ba'al t'shuvah.
This means, more or less, "husband of the return".
In Jew terms, this means I'm going Orthodox, leaving my Reconstructionist past.
So, yes. I'm Orthodox.
Thought I'd get that out there.
Don't be shocked when you see me.
My love to Devon, Addison, Rachel, Rachael; anyone who's supported me through the summer.


Mon, Aug. 14th, 2006, 04:59 am

As the night progressed, I grew sicker and sicker and sicker. Charles and the staff made us sit in a stuffy room for about a CENTURY while they continuously talked! Josh Laufer was there, hoping he could make a recording of our songs...but we didn't. I felt like CRAP.

Finally, at 2 am, we sat down for the last time as a Kehillah to say our goodbyes. It hurt so much. Tali was sitting with me, and we were all invariably sobbing. I thought I wouldn't be able to speak at all. Derso said he thought it was the last time we'd all be in the same room together. It hurt me to hear him say that, and I openly disagreed with him. Between sniffling, crying, and coughing, I felt awful. I even had to go on the balcony to keep sneezing. For one last look at the lights of the Old City at night.

I didn't sleep. I had to get some last minute yearbook signatures the whole night, especially Derso's and Eli's. It was very important to me. I couldn't sleep. Nobody could. We were all awake, creatures of the night, wandering the hallway, laughing to hide the inevitable sadness that was already bubbling up.

I put my contacts in fluid, then stupidly tried putting them back in, forgetting that the fluid burns. It really hurt my eyes!

I called my parents, frustrated and sick. I didn't know what to do! I felt so disgusting. We loaded our things onto the buses very early.

Breakfast was somber. Hovav, bless his heart, kept trying to lighten the mood. Shoshana let me know if I didn't keep in touch with her, there'd be Hell to pay!

It finally came time to say goodbye after breakfast. I burst into tears with Gideon and could not stop crying. I cried saying goodbye to Michal, and thanked her for helping me on my transition religiously, for being so supportive. Saying goodbye to Eli hurt so much. I hadn't even had the chance to sign his yearbook, I'd been so sick. So I wrote "I love you" and told him I'd write him a huge email once I got home. Saying goodbye to everyone hurt like nothing's hurt before. Eldar and I had a tearful goodbye. I cried 3 separate times on hugging David Z. and Gideon. Naama, through her tears, told me to write her, and I said I would.

Outside, on the steps walking away to the bus, I desperately wanted Yair G. to write something, but he wouldn't. He just said goodbye.

I couldn't walk down the steps. I clung to David Z. He told me "No, Matt, you must be strong, you must be strong." And like that, I had to go. I sat on the bus with Maxx, crying horribly as we pulled away, watching Hovav and Gideon crying waving to us from outside, running alongside the bus.

And like that, the Americans left the Israelis.

Tali was on the bus, telling us that she was lucky; she gets to stay on for some extra time.

The inspector at the airport said suspiciously, "You have hookah?" I said yes, and she didn't care! Cool. Getting our baggage through was a huge pain in the ass though.

Saying goodbye to Uri and David G. I really didn't care. To be honest.

The flight was long. Zach S sat with me a lot, and I sat with him and Julia. We slept together, me sneezing, all of us occasionally weeping. The rest of the flight to New York, we all tried to forget our fate, laughing, reminiscing, singing yearbooks. Arielle kept taking pictures, and that kept me laughing. The movies were predictably awful.

We touched down in NY. Another set of goodbyes for the Americans. Bearhugs from Ben K. Love for Maxx. When will I see them again? I left with the LA crew: Zach, Yoni, and I. We saw Joel from Virginia randomly hanging around later on, and hung out with him before getting on the plane.

Arrived in LA, dazed, and miserably sick and ears clogged up.

Zach and Yoni and I ran to our respective families who were anxiously awaiting us.

And said hello to my father for the first time in almost a year.

A journey completed.

Though in truth, it's really never ending.

Sun, Aug. 13th, 2006, 04:42 am

Zach: Good morning! *Hug*
Me: You'll never guess what happened last night.
Zach: ?
Me: Sha-BAM!
Zach: NO WAY.

The last day of Nesiya. We packed up everything from Ein Gedi.

That morning we carried a lot of fruits down from the counselors' rooms for a big feast.

For shaar, we made our own monument to our presence at Ein Gedi with some stones on the field. We poured oil on them.

There was a HUGE rock hyrax that came running up and was in the branches of the tree! Eldar and I ran to get my camera, but by the time I got it, it was too late; it had left. I was disappointed.

After everything was packed, and having filled out our evaluations, it was time to go. I stuck around with Yair G. and Adam, among others. Adam rapped for us, and I found out Yair was half-Canadian...ha!!

We returned to Jerusalem. We were led to a site in the woods, and I had a nagging cough that began to develop. Nesiya alumni spoke to us, including this one guy who was RAGING gay. He had his eye on Zach S...it was pretty funny. We all danced and sang, which of course was documented for Nesiya promotion purposes: it was a golden opportunity.

We had some food, which did not agree with my stomach, although I filled up on watermelon.

Julia U, Zach S, and I decided we were the Holy Trinity!!

I peed in the bushes before we left. Scandalous!

On the bus back to Beit Shmuel, we of course had a song session towards the back of the bus. Hannah A and I were in the middle of Lady Marmalade when we were yelled at to be quiet. Oops!

Everything's packed and ready to go. I'm starting to feel really sick though.

Sat, Aug. 12th, 2006, 04:37 am

The last Nesiya Shabbat. As a group, we read from the story of Yaakov at Bethel, did a bit of Torah study with Uri. It was an interesting story, though I felt awkward being paired with him; everyone else had paired up before me. Hate it when that happens.

There is a groom in Ein Gedi! He himself was a Nesiya alumni. At dinner, he and his group of friends sat nearby, and got up to dance; a lot of the Nesiya guys danced with them too; it's a simkhah!

I remember discussing with Tali the recent airport scare in England.

Tali made yearbooks for all of us! We had a massive yearbook signing party on the benches outside our cabins.

There is an infamous picture circulating somewhere of Ben K. biting my nipple...I think...

Most of the guys decided to room together on this last night in Ein Gedi: me, Brian, Eli, Kirsh, Sergio, and David B. We all discussed who the hottest guys and girls on the program were. Girls came out to be Jolie, Mel, Hannah A., Anya, Julia U. Guys--Eli prefaced this by saying, "First of all, everyone in this room!"--were Zach S., I think we said David Z. too.

Some interesting of a sexual nature occurred later that night...

Thu, Aug. 10th, 2006, 04:31 am

We went on a hike today in Nahal Arugot, a wadi nearby, but we still had to take this dilapidated bus to get there. We had some great group pics on the bus though! When we got there, Sergio was sent back because he didn't have the proper shoes. We reached water, and all the girls ran into it. I tried drinking some; it tasted gross. Everyone had a difficult time scaling this steep and slippery slope; we all fell and it was pretty scary and took a long time. I wore my Jack the Ripper hat! The hike was very arduous, and we got kinda lost and had to sit out for a while as the counselors tried to piece together where we were going. We finally reached the stream after a VERY long hike, and we were all thrilled to get in the water! Hung out with Maxx and Zach a lot. It was really fun putting my head under the waterfall, even if it displaced my contact lenses. Discussed college options/possibilities with Hannah P. and others on the way back. Went to Orthodox services for Shabbat...the last Nesiya Shabbat!

Thu, Aug. 10th, 2006, 04:17 am

-Wake-up WAY TOO early (4:30!)
-Slept til 5, barely awake.
-Sunrise presentations in the ampitheatre.
-Bees & flies attacking kamikaze style.
-I saw a fox running around in the hills.
-The sunrise over Jordan and the Dead Sea was breathtaking.
-David Z. did a painting of an American volunteer soldier who had been killed during the fighting in Lebanon. During his presentation of this, in the art room, he played a recording of the song "B'shem Hashem". Tali cried.
-I was still sleepy as HELL.
-Slept from 7:30 to breakfast.
-Slept after breakfast until 9.
-Uri's group, Josh's point about hookah severity
-Ibby did a poem about her mom in the shade of the thorn trees on the grassy field. We didn't realise her mom had died. It was chilling and amazing.
-Mor did an awesome song.
-Uri did some bartender shtick.
-Slept until lunch, slept all afternoon after translating the summary to my monologue into Hebrew with Eli's help
-I presented, and I thought I did well; I'd sure dressed sharp! For my presentation, I did an 8 minute excerpt from my monologue of a Holocaust survivor returning to his obliterated village, finding nothing, consumed with memories, and then realising he must make aliyah!
-I flattered Arielle.
-Excellent songs by Mel and Hannah A.
-Derso did a presentation on Ethiopian culture which culminated in a dance with wild jerking of the shoulders and arms, assisted by Sergio and Kirsh.
-More bats flying around!
-Kehillah-led activities...failed.
-Joey & Klila had arranged sticks on a fence in the design of Nesiya 2006. They lit it on fire, and we cheered, and then had pancakes.

Wed, Aug. 9th, 2006, 04:13 am

-Another late wake-up
-Lovely morning prayers.
-Helped Daniel with his project: shots of my head, shots of a rock, assistant director shit, Hannah & David B.'s voices, Zach S. & I in ampitheatre arguing with scripts in hand; it was super hot.
-Adam came to share his rap with Zach and I.
-Writing & more writing
-Shit. My piece is 20 minutes long.
-Ilana suggested to cut it. I was very much against this, wanting my own special time. The allotted time is 8 minutes.
-Daniel had his presentation.
-I picked more dates.
-Said goodbye to Daniel. Everyone was emo, Josh was particularly sad.
-First block of final presentations: Ilanit's tree, Tali's quilt (bats were flying around), Kirsh's song: The Flow of Life Goes Coursing Through My Veins (Mel guest sang on it).
-Good night...listened to Freebird with Eli, did more Hebrew study

Tue, Aug. 8th, 2006, 04:08 am

-Nobody woke us.
-Very hot.
-Bad food. AGAIN.
-Yummy dates!
-Slept all morning.
-Eli & Sarah, Daniel & Josh ;-)
-Meeting with Ilana
-Wrote/slept for the afternoon.
-Emily has been staying in our room to hang out a lot recently. That's cool with us. She does it also because our air conditioning is in top condition. So she and Eli fell asleep in bed together, INNOCENTLY. David G. came by with a package, asking if anyone was in the room. I lied and said no, and said I'd leave it on Eli's bed. He went inside, found the two of them in there. I fled, ran into Brian on the way, warning him. Hopefully nothing bad will happen to them!
-Zach S. and I read our final projects to each other and gave each other feedback.
-I read my project to Ayelet, one of my advisors. She suggested a link to the book of Ezekiel, when she felt there was a connection to bones and flesh rising and being reanimated.
-Eli at dinner tasting other options, pissing off David G.
-More writing, did film layout with Daniel
-Activity: Mafia, and then Duck Duck Goose!
-We were given partners and a list of questions we got to ask someone we hadn't gotten to know as well on the trip. I was paired with Sarah J.
-We had to clean up the art room.
-We had a surprise birthday party for Daniel on the balcony!

Mon, Aug. 7th, 2006, 04:01 am

-My suitcase had a huge rip in it!
-As we packed up and prepared to leave Jerusalem, I had the bag with my hookah in it on my bed, waiting to be packed. Uri walked in the room, and I threw my blanket over it! I was so nervous he'd find it, but he didn't.
-My ears kept popping on the bus ride to Ein Gedi.
-The heat was SWELTERING and finding and shlepping our bags up those many steps was such a pain in the ass.
-We had discussion groups with Ilana, beginning to get ideas.
-Wasted time on the floor outside the beit ha'mikdash with Eitan annoying/torturing Julia U. There were leftover balloons we kept playing with.
-The food was bad.
-Listened to music from Eli's iPod back in our room with him and Emily (aka VG...Vagina Girl!). We had a quiz: he'd play the intro to a Black Sabbath song, and I had to guess what song it was. I got just about all of them correct! Emily and Eli were impressed. I did the same to Eli, but with Metallica songs.
-I slept, then studied Hebrew, and then excitedly discovered I could pick dates from the palm tree at the foot of the staircase! I ran through the cabins sharing my wares, and without thinking ran into David Z. and David B.'s room to see if they wanted any, and accidentally woke David B. He was kinda pissed.
-I met with Michal to discuss doing a drama project as my final project. She was helpful!
-Bonded with Daniel Schwartz (finally!) and discussed Josh's questionable feelings for him etc.
-Group discussion of more religion crap, got a call from Rich
-We had a late night snack of bread & chocolate spread!
-I walked around in my bathrobe after my shower.
-I did Jesus impressions with Mikhail. He was the cross, I was crucified and gaunt. Ben Braverman famously said, "Okay, if I'M offended, you know you've gone too far!"
-I sang "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the balcony to an enthusiastic Yocheved below.
-Had more talks with Daniel. Yay!

Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006, 08:30 pm

-Called Mom
-Ehud Banai concert
-Eli Fredman & Shlomi back
-Maxx held up his lighter for the concert; it was fun
-Awesome violinist
-Ended with dance songs, everybody was on their feet dancing
-We had continual requests for Ehud Banai to play Jamali Furush
-After the concert, outside, Zach S. and Yair were drumming, and Maxx and I kept dancing
-Miniature birthday celebration back at the hotel for David B.'s birthday
-I received my hookah! It is GORGEOUS and cost me 270 some odd shekels. I didn't want to turn it into the counselors, as is policy, so I hid the bag under my bed.
-My room was crowded.
-Ilana was touchy.
-cottage cheese, Serge vs. Kirsh

skipped back 10