15 May 2014

When I Went on a Taglit-Birthright Israel Trip [Throwback Thursday]

At the Western Wall
Riding on a camel
Riding on a donkey
With my two tour guides

Overlooking the Sea of Galilee
With my upcoming trip to Israel to lead a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, I realized I hadn't written about the trip on which I went.  In my first semester of college (fall of 2000), I heard about this trip from a friend of mine in Columbus and decided to go, filling out the application, etc.  After I found out I had been accepted, I shared my plans with my family that Thanksgiving.  Of course, they were concerned on many fronts, but not the least of which was the amount of terrorist attacks that were being committed by Arabs there, having only begun months before.

The primary reason I wanted to go on this trip and visit Israel (and a special bonus was that it was free, so I did not have to run it by my parents for much of a financial green-light) was that, in my journey towards greater Jewish involvement and observance, I had heard many people referencing specific places in Israel and I had no way of referencing them.  Even if I were to research them or look them up on a map, I still had no way of really connecting with them, aside from actually visiting Israel and getting a sense of what it was like. So, the primary reason I wanted to go was to connect with this piece of my heritage.

The trip on which I had decided to go was being led by NCSY and the rabbi who was the trip leader was Rabbi David Felsenthal, whom I had know from my time in Columbus, who is a jovial and kind rabbi.  Also, since it was being an Orthodox-run trip, it would be single-sex, so it was an entirely male trip, with no females, whatsoever.  

There was another interesting element to our trip: since the Second Intifada had started, there were many people who, due to the increasing amount of terrorist attacks, either decided not to go, or their parents decided for them not to go, so we ended up with a very small trip attendance.  We ended up with only 16 participants on our Birthright Israel trip, since everybody else had decided not to come on our trip.  This, of course, made for a much more intimate trip, with such a small number of participants.

Since the trip I attended was over 13 years ago, I sadly don't recall much about our trip. However, there are some aspects I do recall.  When I visited the Western Wall, I had expected to have an epiphanic emotional moment as I had heard so many people previously experience, yet I was sorely disappointed when I did not experience it.  Nevertheless, I was glad that I got to be there and visit it, myself.

Sitting on a tank at Latrun
One experience on the trip that was very impactful on me was meeting up with another trip to watch "The Long Way Home", with Rabbi Marvin Hier in the room. All along, we had been touring Israel, yet I did not understand what was so significant about the state of Israel and its importance.  However, watching this movie, I greatly understood that there was a tremendous need not only for the State of Israel to exist as a state for the Jews, but that it was a state for all of the displaced Jews; in other words, a state/land for all of these Jews who had no other place to go, but to their homeland.  Also, I had previously understood the State of Israel to be one entity and the Holocaust as a separate event.  However, this movie wove an interesting connection from the Holocaust to the establishing of the State of Israel - since then, it is hard for me to see them as unconnected.

At a waterfall at Ein Gedi
Aside from those particular moments, I know that I had a good experience and that I was able to get a sense of Israel from it and was very thankful that Taglit-Birthright Israel trips exist :)

13 May 2014

Third Time's a Charm?: Brewing Beer for the Third Time

Last night, I brewed beer for the third time (first time | second time). One thing I made sure was different from the first two batches was the amount of malt I put in.  Whereas I put in in 14 pounds of extra pale malt extract in the first two batches (and they came out too malty for my tastes (both in the first batch and in the second), I only put in 8 pounds this time - a huge difference!

One thing that stayed the same from the last batch was the yeast I put in - I used White Labs Abbey Ale Yeast (WLP530).

As for the hops schedule, here it is:
90minutes until the end of boiling - 1.5oz Summit (17.3% AAU)
75minutes until the end of boiling - 1.5oz El Dorado (15.7% AAU)
60minutes until the end of boiling - 1.5oz Amarillo (9.2% AAU)
45minutes until the end of boiling - 1oz Centennial (8.8% AAU)
30minutes until the end of boiling - 1oz Centennial (8.8% AAU)
End of boiling - .5oz Summit (17.3% AAU), .5oz El Dorado (15.7% AAU), .5oz Amarillo (9.2% AAU)
Now hoping for the best with this third batch....