Masa Israel Journey Blog

Published : December 07, 2010
By Jessica Pinsky, WUJS Israel Arts
Where do I come from?
When asked by Israelis where in the states I grew up, I reply, “Ohio—do you know it?” Mostly they have heard of it but have no idea where it is. I say “It’s in the middle”. “What goes on in the middle?” Not much.
So it is of little surprise that I tried out many major cities in the US over the past 8 years. Cities make sense for some artists, constant stimulation, and incessant, pulsing energy just waiting to be tapped into. I never found the perfect fit. You know, the place you can see yourself living forever.
Who am I?
I am an artist, I am a Jew.
Do people usually write lists in order of importance?
The close relationship I share with my family kept my Jewish identity strong and sacred, but also private in a city without many other Jews. Art has drawn the path of my life. I’m helpless really, chasing the end of a kite lost in the wind. Apparently the kite flew to Israel.
What I am doing here?
I never liked organized social activity. It feels unnatural. If it wouldn’t have terrified my parents I would have come to Israel alone, no structure. But WUJS was the perfect compromise—a program designed to fit your needs, one that emphasizes your own path in life. I am truly amazed by the diversity of the participants in this program. Everyone is different. Most have been to Israel before, many have family here. Some are more religious, others, like me, have very little Jewish knowledge and observance.
But somehow, there is a connection. Somehow, there is this invisible thread tying Israel to every Jew in the entire world, and I have felt it, all the way in Ohio, clinging to the back of my head for my entire life.
What am I looking for?
The first month in Israel has been incredible. Maybe on a superficial level for now, I feel like I belong here–In the streets for example, or in the supermarket. I do not feel Israeli, I feel welcomed and fascinated by Israelis, but I am still a foreigner and the knowledge and real appreciation of this country will come with time.
I’m looking for a home.
Published : December 06, 2010
By Ayelet Firstenberg, Young Judaea Year Course Jerusalem madricha
I have been living in Jerusalem for almost a year now. Something really special about the city, and especially our area of Talpiyot, is the fact that you are always a ten-minute walk or bus ride away from being able to pursue your artistic interests. For music, art, and dance lovers like myself, consider this a brief guide to the arts in Jerusalem.
There are no end to concerts in Jerusalem. The Lab (Hama’abeda) is a smaller venue, a twenty minute walk from campus with shows ranging from strange alternative dance shows to big-time performers like Hadag Nachash. Another favorite is the Yellow Submarine, less than 10 minutes from campus and a great place to hear free jazz music every Tuesday night. Colorful posted signs all over the city are constantly announcing new shows (in Hebrew) and are definitely worth looking over. 
Also a ten minute walk from campus is Studio 6, a women-only dance studio with classes in ballet, jazz, Broadway, modern, pilates, hip-hop, and more. They cater to a lot of English speakers and will gladly email you a copy of their schedule in English. I find the other students and the teachers there very friendly and welcoming.
Recently I discovered The Jerusalem Studio School in Talpiyot, just a few minutes walk from campus. While they generally cater to long-term students, they also offer continuing education classes for adults. While the classes are rather expensive, you can take any of their 7 evening classes for free if it’s your first time. I tried a charcoal class there and was really impressed by how professional they are. If you’re more of a viewer and less of a drawer, I recommend the Museum for Islamic Art, a gorgeous art museum only a bus ride away.
For you Year Course participants, don’t let the search stop here! There is so much to discover in Jerusalem and living here for three months is more than enough time to take advantage of all of it. Enjoy!

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