Monday, January 16, 2012

So let it be written, So let it be done

Last week was our first full week of classes. They all went really well, but they also made it very obvious that this is most definitely not a vacation. I usually try to only take three or so classes that are going to require lots of work, and then fill the other credit hours with more manageable classes so that I don’t spread myself too thin. However, here we are all taking a very full fifteen hours. As hard as that might be, it will definitely be worth it. I can already tell that I’ve learned a lot, and things are still just starting.

More than just dealing with the hard classes, though, is the issue of time management. Sitting down to read 50 pages on Orientalism is a lot more difficult to do when you know Jerusalem is just down (and then up) the hill. Thus, I’m finding there is an art in balancing trips to the city and finishing homework.

In Old Testament we finished the book of Genesis, and we’re now wading our way through Exodus. Genesis is a book I’ve always felt like I’ve read a thousand times (every New Year’s Resolution to read the Bible cover to cover starts there…), but going through it in an academic setting revealed to me that I had much to learn. What’s been really interesting is the parallelism and mirroring between the Old Testament and New Testament, which Dr. Huntsman has been pointing out for us. For instance, the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Abraham is commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac as an offering to the Lord. However, at the last moment, God stops Abraham and provides a ram to be sacrificed instead.

There are many interesting things we’ve learned about this. The first being that Mount Moriah, where this occurred, is the Temple Mount, where Dome of the Rock is currently located. Which means that it’s right out our balcony view, and a 30 minute walk from the JC. What’s also interesting is a kind of foreshadowing that this has of the New Testament and the Christ story. Abraham was going to have to sacrifice his son, but instead offered a ram. Heavenly Father sacrificed his only son, the Lamb of God, so that we would no longer have to offer sacrifices. The last insight (and, in my opinion, the most interesting) is that Isaac would not have been a young boy when this happened. Imagining Abraham pinning his small son down on a rock to slay him has always bothered me. However, we’ve learned that Biblical scholars put Isaac at 35 or so. This means he would have easily been able to overthrow his elderly father, if he chose to do so. Rather, Isaac realized the will of God and was willing to give everything to fulfill it. This fact colors the story in a whole new light.

We watched Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments on Friday as part of the Friday Night Film Series here. I was amazed by how many new little references I was able to recognize after just being here for a week and a half. It made the whole film a lot more enjoyable (which is good, when you're sitting through four hours of a movie... :)

My two other favorite classes are Israel/Judaism and Palestine/Islam. Each of these classes is taught by a professor from here, and is, respectively, an Israeli Jew and an Arab Muslim. In these classes we go through the history of the struggle of the groups, as well as getting a basic versing in the religions. It’s one thing to read about the facts of the issue, but quite another to have a passionate, educated individual who is actually affected by the situation teach it to you. Not that we don’t have fun in there too. In our Israel class on Tuesday we were going over the basics of Judaism. Professor Yarden asked us to say some phrases that came to mind when we thought of Judaism. After various suggestions of Hanukkah, kippahs, etc., someone raised their hand and said, “I don’t really know how to describe it, but it has to do with doing something over and over again; like handing something down…” and Professor Yarden said, “Tradition?” Suddenly 80 renditions of “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof rang out through the forum. Then in our Palestine class on Thursday we were all feeling rather exhausted after a day full of classes. So, right after our break in between the two hours of the class, Professor Bashir asked us if we liked to dance. We replied (like most BYU students would) with many enthusiastic cheers. So he told us we could have two minutes to have a dance party. We stared blankly at each other before volunteering Sterling to beatbox. Then commenced the most legit impromptu dance party I’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in. I promise I’m learning lots too – but the point is that everything is enjoyable in so many ways.

Random trips into the city are one of the best parts of being here. We ventured out in between classes a few times last week. When time is limited we usually just go into the Old City, which is a twenty minute walk (or a three minute bus ride) away from the center. There we wander through street vendors and talk to locals. Once last week we skipped lunch at the JC , and went into town to get fresh falafel, before rushing through the rain back to class. It still seems surreal.

Sunday was our free day (after the most intense game of Mao I've ever played on Saturday, including ninja poses and nose goes), and so Sarah, Crystal, and I went all over the city, starting at the Dome of the Rock. Wow- what a magnificent building. It’s beautiful from far away, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful up close. There’s blue mosaic all over the bottom, and the grounds are peaceful and beautiful. We then started a day of wandering through the city. Rather than do the kind of exploring strictly governed by a map, we took whatever streets looked interesting to us. We ended up venturing out of the Old City and into West Jerusalem (the nicer, safer part of town). There we ventured up Ben Yehuda street, down to the Artist’s house, and ate lunch in a random park. We also got some awesome gelato on Ben Yehuda street. We made our way back to the Old City and found hidden little parks and cool galleries on our way, before making our final stop at the “Arab Costco.” It was fun to explore the city without the pressure of schedules.

Okay, well this turned into a much longer entry than I had expected. Thus, I will write about today (Monday) later, maybe tonight, or maybe tomorrow. 

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:9

-Claire Rose


  1. Hey Sweetie Girl,

    So good to talk to you yesterday! It makes me feel so much better when I get to hear your voice. Not that I'm feeling *bad*, but you know what I mean.

    Trailer is cleaned out (except for carpets, which your dad is doing as I write this - yay Dad!) and is on Craig's List, and I think the plan is to put it in the scandal sheet, if it doesn't cost too much. Need good thoughts about it selling or renting soon.

    Love the image of students belting out "Tradition" in class. Too funny!

    Have a funeral tomorrow for a client who died. She was a senior, so it's not a tragedy, but it's sad for her son, who is also a client.

    Your dad sold the blue and green dresser that had been Slava's, but before that Morgan's, but before that yours when it was baby-piggy-pink with stickers of flowers on each drawer. It wasn't the best dresser in the world, but it was sad to see that many memories go. I painted it blue and green for Morgan because you got a big girl dresser (Annie's now), and you cried and told me you hated your new dresser, that you wanted one we could paint. You were so cute! I hated to break your heart, but there was no way I was painting that beautiful dresser . . . (I know, mean old Mommy! :-)

    Sure do love you!


  2. Hi Clairedy, thinking of you. Hope it's OK to comment on your blog instead of emailing you - it's easier since I made your blog one of our homepages.

    Divisionals coming up this weekend, going to be grueling but really looking forward to them. Our kids have good chances of going to State (either because they're really good or the numbers of kids in our Division are really good) - cross fingers! Would love to take every one to state. Picked up another student in the last few weeks, brings me up to seven.

    Morgan found his ipod (under socks on his bed, lol) and Amazon screwed up his order so they refunded his money and he has no new ipod. Worked out nicely, though I think he would have been happy with the 30g (yes, it was a classic like ours).

    Primetime is coming up, oh joy! Morgan offered to go with Annie if I can't go. Isn't that sweet? Slava got a write up, oh joy. It's partly from talking out of turn. Was remembering with your dad that when Morgan was in first grade I had to remind him every morning not to talk when the teacher was talking. It did work, eventually . . .

    Your dad is putting finishing touches on a contract to rent the trailer. A family from TX wants to rent and then maybe buy it. As long as we don't get a cold snap that scares them away . . .

    Are you happy with what you packed and what you left? That was such a crazy night. Love hearing about your classes. Love YOU!



  3. Thanks for keeping me updated on everyone's lives! :) I appreciate more than you know.

    My fingers are super crossed for you at divisionals! Things sound really exciting. Where will state be? What event is your new student in?

    Bahaha, the Morgan iPod thing sounds very like Morgan. But sounds like things worked out well. As Laura Ingalls's dad would say, "All's well that ends well." :) That is totally sweet that Morgan offered to go with Annie. Oh Primetime... :) Sorry that things are tough with Slavy; you guys are definitely in my prayers. I talked with Vladi (the boy here who was adopted from Russia) and that was pretty interesting. He was adopted when he was 12, so he has a sweet Russian accent, but he says by now he speaks English better than Russian. He asked what Slava's name was, and so I told him, and then went to go on to tell him what it meant, but he totally beat me to it. So that was kind of cool.

    The dresser story is totally sad! I have fond memories of that dresser. I don't, however, remember being so upset about not being able to paint my old one. That's funny.

    Exciting about the trailer. Keep me updated. What a blessing to get that taken care of so quickly.

    Haha, yes, I'm mostly happy with what I brought. I wish I would have known the stricter rules earlier so I could have been looking out for shirts that fit the requirements, but alas. :) I posted pictures! Which you'll probably see. If you even see this, which hopefully you will. :) I love you!!!!