I haven't posted in a few days, because I was in Jerusalem for the holiday. We got put up in a Jewish Hostel called the Heritage House, which was free for Jews for the High Holy Day. We went to the shul connected to the hostel, which turned out to not only be Hasidic, but also really politicaly conservative. The services were non-egalitarian; the separation was floor-ceiling, and almost completely wall-wall. They were less that spiritual. So about an hour into the morning service, I left with a friend, and we went and did some praying on our own by the Western Wall. It was really great. The air was warm, but breezy, and the sun was bright, and there were people everywhere praying. We went back to the service for the end to hear the shofar and join everyone at the break-fast, which was surprisingly mixed gender. The pre-fast meal had been at the hostels, which of course were separate buildings for men and women.
At the break-fast, which was in the "student center" funded by Aish HaTorah (the sort of people who believe all the Arabs who should be driven out of Israel), I met a Bosnian Jewish woman. It was really interesting to hear her talk about the Jewish community in the former-Yugoslavia, and she was talking about Bosnia and Serbia in the pre-90's way of "we're all the same." But apparently, they're only all the same if they're all Jews. I mentioned my ex-boyfriend was from Doboj, and she looked at my funny and said there was no Jewish community out that way, and asked his name. When I told her, she started laughing and was fairly scandalized that I dated a Muslim. I told her I come from a liberal family and community and it was no big deal, and she told me not to tell other people in Israel that. I was a little taken aback by her reaction.
I also bought some kippot in Jerusalem, and started wearing one all the time. I also did not realize how scandalous this was. Apparently a kippah, is "not a woman's hat." In the old city, people thought it insane that a woman would wear one, in the new city, people thought it insane anyone would want to wear one. It was an interesting sociological four days in Jerusalem.
Of course, we also walked through the Arab market, the Armenian quarter, the Temple Mount, and the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Pictures of everything to follow.
The Arab and Israeli students are finally here! My roommate is a Palestinian girl. Surprisingly, most of the Palestinians are Christian. We haven't gotten much chance to get to know each other yet, although last night we had a bonfire, which was good for more informal socializing. I think its going to be a great group. So far, everyone is so friendly and excited to talk to each other about our different backgrounds and everything.
Class registration was today. I'm taking Climate Change, Intro to Environmental Science (both required), Environmental Sociology, Environmental Mediation and Conflict Resolution, and Statistics for Social Science Majors, as well as Hebrew, and Peace-building and Environmental Leadership (both not for credit). I'm hoping by the time we've finished registration, we'll have our grades for Marine Ecology. I'm not too worried, but just really eager to see how I did.