Today I woke up to a beautiful Shabbat morning in Jerusalem. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing gently, and while it’s slightly chilly out, there is plenty of warmth to be found in the walls of the capital city.
Right now, the Old City of Jerusalem is packed with Christian Pilgrims who are here to celebrate Easter. I had the blessing of being in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher a few years back when pilgrims came to worship, their prayers rising with the incense to the heavens and the chant of the brothers simply filled everyone with awe…it’s truly something to behold.
Right now I’m living in the Soldiers House in Jerusalem. I moved here a few weeks ago from Ashdod.
The Soldiers House or “Beit HaChayal” (בית החייל) houses both Lone Soldiers (such as myself) as well as soldiers looking to take a vacation in a specific city (Soldiers Houses can be found throughout the country).
The Soldiers Houses are also used to accommodate the housing needs during army courses (for example: if a platoon from up north is going on a tour of Jerusalem, they may stay at our Soldiers House in order to save on time busing back and forth if it’s going to be a two-day trip).
But Who’s Counting?
From today, I have 57 actual days (and 40 work days) until I finish my army service as illustrated by this countdown chart, which can be found hanging above my desk:
Protip: Don’t tell your commander how many days:hours:minutes:seconds you have left of your army service every morning when he gets to the office…it will make him antsy.
While I will be sad to trade in my uniform in for civilian attire, I am also incredibly excited for moving forward with my career, my life and my future. I’m also incredibly thankful to once again have things that I’m allowed to post about.
I’m very much looking forward to using this blog to discuss my coursework, languages, music, both my linguistic and cultural research, and of course, my travels.
“Welcome to the M.A. Program!”
Right now the hardest part is waiting to finish the army. It isn’t just because I’m looking forward to moving on, but it’s also because the next batch of missions I’ll be taking on will at some point become someone else’s responsibility (I hate passing off my missions to anyone, for any reason).
Right now my time is devoted to teaching new soldiers, the officer who will be taking over for the position I was supposed to sign contract for, writing the updated training manual for my section and wrapping things up in general, closing down my classroom, packing up my office, cleaning and folding my life neatly into two or three duffel bags and preparing to head 9,000 miles away from Jerusalem so, at some point in the future, I can afford to live here.
The day after I finish the army I head to the bank to pick up a check that covers my first course at the Open University (I have 11,000 shekels to pay for school, courtesy of my army retirement package) and then the following day I’ll be heading up to Ranana to hand in my registration form:
The photo on my undergraduate student ID card had more hair…
At that moment, it all becomes official…I’ll be a graduate student, a civilian, and hopefully also employed (I should find out this week or next). I look forward to weeks of work and studying, with dancing and working out in the evenings. I look forward to weekends filled with exploring museums, exhibits, hiking and camping…all the things that someone in their late twenties should be enjoying…ahh…almost there…almost there…57 days…