View Driving to Jerusalem
Look at this amazing landscape! This is a shot I took on our way back from the Nefesh B’Nefesh trip. I hadn’t gotten a chance to put it on the site until tonight. I don’t remember where this was taken, but I think it was along Israel’s route 1 highway. I’ll probably be able to tell you later on as we continue travelling in Israel.I’m going to be offline for a little while since we’ll be at Eric’s cousin’s wedding party outside of Tel-Aviv tomorrow evening, and Shabbat is coming up right afterwards. So I’ll try to tell you a little bit about Ulpan before I get head out.
Pardes enrolled us for seven weeks at Ulpan Etzion before we start our studying Jewish texts. Usually Etzion does not let students stay for only seven weeks, and they tend to restrict admission to adults in their 20’s and early 30’s. But guess Pardes worked out some type of arrangement.
Etzion is the oldest Ulpan (Hebrew immersion center) in Israel, and it is, therefore, the model for all other ulpans in the country. Not only does Etzion house a school, but it also houses an absorbtion center for new olim. Our friend Sam lives in the dorms there, and they are not too luxurious let me tell you. However, he does get a good deal in that housing and meals cost 1200 bucks for five months, while Hebrew class is free. Typically a semester of ulpan runs five months at the end of which you take a placement exam to see how far you’ve progressed. By attending ulpan, immigrants have a better likelihood of obtaining employment or going to the university to study.
Studying at Etzion for seven weeks is a terrific opportunity to see how an absorbtion center works and how new immigrants acclimate to life here. Etzion is also one of those places where you can whiff the Zionist ideology. What does that mean, you might ask? I mean that it is still infused by these old Zionistic ideals, upon which the state was originally founded. You can just tell by looking at all of the different posters on the wall of places around Israel, maps of Israel and of course the Israeli anthem. You could feel it at the simple greeting ceremony put together by Etzion staff, where gathered in a circle and we sang several songs in Hebrew as well as the national anthem. The government heavily subsidizes these programs because teaching Hebrew is Israel’s way of making immigrants into Israelis.
I will be writing more about my experiences when I return, but in the meantime you can read about Ulpan Etzion at this link: http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/050506/ulpan.shtml