Archives for category: Sarah

One of the symbols of Israel is the rimon (pomegranate). It is mentioned in the Torah as one of the seven species of Israel and, in a region that can be horticulturally challenging, grows naturally in abundance. As such, it is seen everywhere from ancient mosaics to modern art, a symbol of fertility.

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  • The same day that I gave my talk in Jerusalem, I had to go to Tel Aviv that evening for the final Fulbright event of the year, the farewell dinner. The dinner was sponsored by the US Embassy and was held in a fancy hotel. It was the kick-off to several end-of-the-year events:
  • The next night was our friend Sarah’s play. She wrote, starred in, and co-directed a semi-autobiographical, one-woman show based on events leading up to and including her year here. She first performed it over Pesach at a theater festival in Jaffo, but we had to miss it because it was the same time as our Yam HaMelach trip. We were thrilled when she performed it in Haifa, in the theater dept. at the University, where she has been teaching all year as part of her Fulbright.  Hopefully her theater work will bring her to work in NY so we can see each other again.

Sarah Brown in a scene from her show

    • The following week, fellow Fulbrighter Julia had a show of her artwork also at the University, “Common Ground: Landscape Painting in Israel.” She had a couple of amazing projects this year working with Arab & Jewish students, using art as a means to initiate communication between the groups.
    • My final, final official Fulbright event (as far as I know) was as a panel leader this week for Israeli students with fellowships who are going to America. I returned to Tel Aviv to lead a panel on what to expect in academia in the US for undergraduates and graduate students.

Now all that’s left is to say good-bye to our dear friends and wrap up our work projects.

When I gave a talk to the Hebrew U. Psych. Dept. about 2 weeks ago, I went to Jerusalem early and hung out with Deborah & baby Shlomo. We went to the botanic gardens on the Hebrew U. Mt. Scopus campus. If you are lucky enough to live in the same city as your sibling(s), don’t take it for granted!

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When Roy & I travel we always like to bring the other one back some food unique to the region as a souvenir. I had read about mastic, which is a traditional Greek flavoring from the mastic tree from the island of Chios. I bought him some chewing gum and also some kind of pudding-looking thing.

The instructions said to put some of the stuff on a spoon, dip in water, and then lick like a lollipop.

Can you tell what I thought of it?

Noah didn't fare much better.

On one of the days I was in Athens, I decided to get out of the city and take a one-day cruise to 3 islands in the Saronic Gulf (thanks to the recommendation of my friend Elena), which is the part of the Aegean Sea where Athens lies.

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p.s. if you’re looking for a special place to eat while in Athens, I recommend ManiMani. We kept finding places that looked cute, but with only mediocre food, until I read about this place on chowhound. It serves food from the region of Mani and was phenomenal. So good that we went back again before we went to the airport to return home. They remembered us from the night before and gave us complementary Mastica liquer. Hopa!

About 1 month ago (has it been that long?!?) I went to Athens for a psych conference, where I presented a poster with my friend/collaborator Osnat on one of the projects we’ve been working on this year. Its only a 2 hr. flight from Israel, but because of certain days that the airline didn’t fly, we were there for 5 days.

We stayed in the Psiris neighborhood between Monastiraki and Omonia Squares. It was just blocks from the city’s fruit & veg and meat markets.

Roy requested that I bring back thyme honey for his souvenir. Everything in this shop was from the owner's hometown in the mountains.

Psiris is a recently gentrified neighborhood, but is still a bit sketchy around the edges.

dinner with Osnat & Gilad in a charming courtyard. Live music during dinner, but the keyboardist texted on his phone throughout the show. He literally "phoned it in!"

We hit the main tourist attractions in Athens:

the Agora, the ancient marketplace & meeting hall,

the last remaining synagogue in Athens (maybe not most people's top attraction),

the Panathenaic Stadium used for the 1896 Olympic Games,

And, of course, the Acropolis.

Looking down from the Acropolis to the Theater of Dionysus

The Parthenon - Athena's Temple

“If you like museums, then you’ll love Athens!”

The highlight of Athens were actually places where we couldn’t take photos – tiny museums off the beaten path. In one day, we visited the Folk Art, Jewish, and Jewelry museums and each was lovely. Especially the Folk Art Museum, which was very inspirational. Maybe after a year of traveling around looking at Israel’s ruins, the Parthenon doesn’t hold as much awe for me? Or maybe because it was drizzling when I was there and the site is under reconstruction it didn’t have its usual magnificence.

The newest museum, The Acropolis Museum, is located at the foot of the Acropolis and was built to hold all of the archaeological discoveries found on the Acropolis, particularly the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles. There is a reconstruction of the Parthenon frieze, with a not-too-subtle commentary showing exactly which portions of the frieze (about 50%, which Greece would like returned) are displayed at the British Museum.

One of the most striking features of the museum is its ongoing excavation which is visible through glass floors and open pits on the plaza.

This little guy perched outside the Acropolis Museum sends greetings from Athens!

I’ve tried three times to volunteer while in Israel and each time my attempts were thwarted!

First, I tried to organize a group of Fulbrighters to work with JNF on Mt. Carmel to clear away some of the burned areas. Only one person expressed interest, so I didn’t feel like I could call to offer the services of only 2 of us.

Second, we offered to work a day at a soup kitchen that we had donated to, but the guy who ran it just wanted us to host him in NYC with a group of friends so that we could connect him to more money. Not going to happen.

Third, I volunteered to help an Israeli high school student prepare for bagrut, the final English exams that are required for graduation. There was a group of students in Shderot who don’t have access to local English speakers, so their advisor arranged for skype tutorials. I spoke to one of the students on the phone and we set up a day & time and then when the time came she was a no show. I contacted her & the organizer about it, to no avail.

Sigh. I am not meant to do good works while I am here other than be a good representative of the US. FYI, if you are thinking of volunteering, don’t be discouraged by my tale of woe. After 3 attempts, I am discouraged, but I know plenty of other Fulbrighters who had very good luck arranging their volunteer situations.

I haven’t had the time to write much lately, but I thought some of you might be interested to see that a story about me and my research was just published today on ynet,”Israel’s largest and most popular news and content website” according to their own website. Of course, it is in Hebrew, so I have no idea if it is accurate or if the journalist quoted me properly. But, my picture is there, which is nice. I’m exaggerating – I’m not that illiterate. I was able to make out a few key ideas, but if any of you Hebrew speakers spot any glaring errors, let me know.

What else is going on professionally ?

  • Yesterday I was the featured speaker at the yearly training/education day for all of the pediatric physical therapists in the Haifa region who work for Clalit, which is a combination of health insurance and medical care. They have clinics in every neighborhood, but where I went yesterday was the main center that sees all at-risk and developmentally delayed infants & children. The PTs, neuropsychologists, pediatricians, etc. are housed in the same building. There was a beautiful view of the Baha’i gardens from the room where I spoke, which was an added bonus.
  • About a month ago I gave a talk to the Physical Therapy dept. at the U. of Haifa and next week I’m giving a talk to the Cognitive Forum of the Psych. Dept. at Hebrew U. in Jerusalem.
  • 2 weeks ago I went to Greece for a psychology conference with my friend & colleague Osnat where we presented a poster of one of the projects we’ve been working on this year. I need to write a post about the trip.
  • Which brings me to my last point of why I haven’t written lately – I have a big grant due soon that Anat & I are putting together which has taken up all of my time. I hope to be done soon so I can enjoy the remainder of our time here (in denial, can’t think about that). Back to work!

I just ordered 2 pizzas for delivery in Hebrew! By myself!

Last week was a week of national holidays full of celebrations & remembrances: Yom HaZikaron (memorial day), Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), and Yom Huledet shel Roy (Roy’s birthday).

As with other holidays, the city starts getting ready weeks in advance.

Decorations at the zoo...

along the highways,

and lit up on buildings.

These were taken around our neighborhood.

Memorial Day has a completely different feel here than in the US. Since almost everyone has served in the military here, its an important part of their life stories and most people know someone who served in a war, or who was killed, either in war or terrorist attacks. In the US its easier to ignore the meaning of Memorial Day because its only a small proportion of the population who currently serve and whose friends & families are directly affected. Here most of the population has shared in the responsibility of defending the country, whereas at home, the demands placed on non-military citizens are minimal; certainly real sacrifices are made only by a few.

Noah’s school held a tekes (ceremony) on Sunday which we attended.

All of the children wore blue & white...

the building was decorated...

each class presented an art project, there was singing...

and Israeli dancing!

There was only a half day of school on Monday and no school/work at all on Tuesday so that people could participate in and attend the various ceremonies and special events held all over the country. We went to a small memorial service Monday afternoon a couple of neighborhoods over that the mayor of Haifa was participating in. There were some prayers and a reading of the people from that neighborhood who had died. We didn’t stay for the whole thing because we didn’t understand everything that was going on and Noah was getting antsy, but we wanted him to understand why he had an early day and show him what was going on throughout the country. Noah’s teacher told him that he could see soldiers on TV, so we let him watch a bit. Most channels had no programming at all out of respect and throughout the day the state channel broadcast profiles of soldiers who had died. In the evening there is a ceremony broadcast nationally from Har Herzl in Jerusalem that is a transition from the solemn Yom HaZikron to the festive Yom HaAtzmaut. We were told that everyone watches it & then goes outside to celebrate. In Haifa, there were music festivals in several neighborhoods & fireworks, so as soon as the show was over we ran outside & saw a fireworks show right above our heads. One of the music stages was at the bottom of the hill where our neighborhood is, so all we had to do was go to the edge and look down & we could watch the whole thing.

And it was Roy's birthday! Maybe those fireworks were actually for him.

Noah decided that we needed to bake Roy a chocolate cake with strawberries, so "we" did.

The next day we had the whole day off and there were so many things going on.

First, we went to the Haifa port, where the navy had ships on display.

Then we went down to Tel Aviv and caught part of the flotilla that sailed down the coast.

We went to the Namal (the old port), which is now a boardwalk lined with shops & restaurants.

There was a pottery activity - Noah made a candlestick on the wheel.

And a juggling/acrobatic act which Noah thought was fantastic.

Another pleasantly re-imagined former working waterfront!