September Round Up

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!שנה טובה

Yesterday was the first day of the Jewish new year, and things have been pretty busy the last few weeks.

Our program had a volunteer day a few weeks back, which is how I ended up at the SPCA. Those of us who went to the shelter got to walk the dogs that they’re housing. One of my friends even found a dog that she had called in to animal control – she’d found it wandering ownerless and collarless through a park a few weeks before, and got to walk him at the shelter.

I found a few more photos:

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A few days after the SPCA visit, I went to the Cities Summit Tel Aviv tech conference. It was while at the conference that we started receiving messages that rockets were being launched again from Gaza.

Fortunately, they turned out to be false alarms. But it really reinforced the reality of the situation here in Israel, and was something of a surreal experience, attending a fancy technology conference while thinking parts of the country were under attack.

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My first day of work was the day after the conference. Our office is located in the MindSpace coworking space with about 40 other startups on Rothschild boulevard here in Tel Aviv.

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There are seven of us in the company. Everyone is young, and since the company gives everyone lunch money each day, we all tend to go out together to eat. Right now, I’m primarily assisting the social media director with her projects, but I’ve been asked to take the lead on another initiative as well. I’m enjoying the work and believe in the product, so I’m excited to see where the next few months will take me.

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I’ve taken up running a bit since I’ve been here. Yes, those of you who know me, I am being serious.

Unfortunately, biking in Tel Aviv, while very convenient, is pretty awful if you want to do long road rides. (See my previous post in which we rode 25 miles entirely in urban areas, and mostly on multi-lane expressways.) Because we’re so close to the beach, and because the weather is nice every day, it’s much easier to get down to the boardwalk and just run for miles. I’ve been heading down to Yaffo quite a bit on those runs, or just finding weird scenes on back roads.

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I was last in Israel on Taglit in 2011. I’ve kept in touch with a number of the soldiers that joined us on our program, and last Saturday we had a mini reunion.

Naama, Mor, Dror, and Maria (L-R) came into the city to grab drinks and catch up. It was kind of surreal how little it felt like things had changed since the program, except it was very clear that everyone was at a much more settled period in their lives. (Except for me, of course.)

Naama invited me to her family’s Rosh Hashanah dinner, which was a blast. Her family was amazingly welcoming and accommodating of someone they had never met, who speaks virtually no Hebrew, and who has a really restrictive diet. They even made me vegan gefilte fish! It was really great to get out of the city for the night and spend the holiday as Israelis do, and with such good people.

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One of the commonly heard phrases I remember from going to temple as a child was, “Next year in Israel.”

Well, this year I am in Israel.

Yesterday,  I joined Alon (from the night bike ride) on a trip up north toward the border with Lebanon to go climbing in a half-collapsed cave.

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The drive took about 2.5 hours, and once we arrived we actually could see Lebanon from the trail to the cave.

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The cave is pretty cool. We arrived around 11:30am, and were the only two there until some other guys showed up around 2.

I haven’t done much climbing outside, and never any lead climbing, so it was a very new (and truthfully, scary) experience for me. Alon is an exceptionally experienced climber, a coach at the rock gym and great teacher, and a former national climbing competitor in Israel. The guys that arrived after us started chatting with Alon for a bit, and when they heard his name they expressed surprise and turned to me and said, “This guy is really well known here.” And he’s only 22.

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The cave was really large, and almost perfectly shaded, which meant we avoided the scorching Israeli sun at even the hottest time of the day.  It was INCREDIBLY dusty though.

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The limestone rock is really sharp and sandpapery, and since ‘ve lost nearly all my calluses that I had in Boston, it really tore my hands up. I got in about 5 climbs before I had to call it a day. (I was also stupid enough to not get good sleep the two nights before, and lacked the energy and mental drive to really push myself.)

Alon climbed really well, though, as did the other guys that showed up.

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They also brought a really chill dog with crazy eyes.

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Today I made guacamole and am going out on another run. Which I somehow always manage to do around 2 or 3pm, which is the hottest time of the day.

Good thing there’s a sea to jump into!

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4 thoughts on “September Round Up

  1. You look so happy and by the sound of it, you are having wonderful experiences. Just stay safe!! May this be a happy, healthy and sweet year for you. Seems like you have a great start.
    Love, NANNY

  2. HAPPY NEW YEAR…YOUR PHOTO OF THE DINNER REMINDS ME OF GOOD TIMES IN CESARA [?SP] WITH MY COUSIN AND HIS FAMILY. GLAD TO SEE YOU LOOK SO HAPPY!

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