Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's Good in Jerusalem?

With so much media focus on the negative, along with a blurred view of reality, many people forget that Jerusalem is a functioning city with supermarkets, restaurants, bars, and a little nightlife thrown in. So just what the hell am I doing in Jerusalem?

It seems fitting that, given the parameters of Jewish Geography, Jerusalem, and jetlag, that my very first night in Israel should be spent at a wedding. Finding my way there was not an easy task, as Jerusalem is not at all laid out in a grid, a fact predicated along the hills and valleys that make up its topography. Luckily, after running into a friend at the bus stop, and combining forces (and Hebrew skills) we were able to find our way and move on up (literally) to our destination.

This was my first Israeli wedding, so it is, perhaps, worth it to recount the experience. First, there were several hours of appetizers and drinking, followed by a very short ceremony in which the groom gave the ring to the bride, the Rabbi said the Hebrew bit, followed by the Shevah Brachot aka the Seven Blessings, gave a quick speech about how important it is to create a Jewish home filled with joy and not distrust, as this distrust and lack of love between Jews was what caused the destruction of the second temple, the glass was broken and then the ceremony was over.

The ensuing dance party was pretty fierce and I was thankfully thoroughly exhausted by the time I got back to my apartment in Baka.

Thursday was our first day of Orientation at PresenTense and included a deluge of information on web-based tools and ideas. My coach (like a mentor), tipped me off to something called 'boogie' going down that night at a local community center so I went to check it out.

Unfortunately I forgot my camera because somethings just need to be seen. The room, which had been converted into a club, replete with sound and lighting, was filled with slightly hippied out Israelis, moving to the incredibly diverse and well mixed musical selections. After about 20 minutes, one of the women assembled everyone together to lead in a sort of yoga/tai chi stretch routine that was pretty amazing and out there at the same time. Once the beats got bumping, though, it became a hot spot pretty quickly. Combinations of reggae, electronica, hip hop, and African beats. Apparently this goes down every Thursday night. I assume I'll be back.

Yesterday morning, I was able to sit down with Esther Kustanowitz aka EstherK, one of the queens of the Jewish blogosphere and social media scene. It was great to see a her in person, as her digital resume stretches to all corners of the internet. We spoke about how she ended up as the writer she is today and the evolution of bloggers in society and culture.

As I mentioned earlier, Jerusalem is a pretty hilly city, and some streets are at an intense angle. Going running here destroys you pretty quickly. I took a video while walking to a Cincinnati friend's apartment to showcase some of those steep grades:

Coming up this weekend will be a trip to Tel Aviv, the happening party capital of the Jewish state. Stay tuned.

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