Monday, August 3, 2009

Back in Israel...for Good

I left China on Sunday July 19, just as the Jewish Studies seminar moved south to Shandong University for two more weeks of intensive Jew-scholarship. It was time I returned to Israel, time to get myself together and work on my Hebrew before I would report to kibbutz on August 6.

The good news from my two weeks in Jerusalem is that I set up a bank account (Leumi), health insurance (Clallit), phone (Orange, through an extra cheap Garin Tzabar plan) and even got the ball rolling on my Sal Klita, the financial assistance [read: buckets of cash] new immigrants receive from the government.

Even better news came with my running, as the right knee pain that has kept me from running since late May was largely absent on my return to Jerusalem. When my right knee first locked up back in May I was quietly desperate, scared that the very marathon I had run in early May to prepare me for the army would instead destroy my ability to serve in a challenging combat unit. With no one in Syria to advise me how I should heal my knee, I stretched every day, swore off running and prayed. The morning after my brother's wedding the pain returned, reminding me I was still in trouble. Fortunately the same cousin who welcomed me at the airport is one of Israel's most active physical therapists. She provided me with kinesio tape, a new type of adhesive bandage designed to mimic human skin and heal sore muscles. The tape and some new stretching techniques gave me the confidence to run for the first time in Beijing. Back in Jerusalem, I have continued running every morning, pounding the hills as I cross through Rehavia and run circuits in Gan Sachar.

In general though, I have not made much use of my two weeks in Jerusalem. Israeli TV and a few lame efforts at a conversation book are the extent of the disciplined approach I had hoped to take to studying Hebrew. My flagging attention is enough to make me question at times whether I was wise to bounce from China a week early and miss the second part of the conference in Shandong. Those decisions are for the past. For now I have set my eye on the future and look forward to starting my new life on kibbutz the second week of August.

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