Please let me introduce you to a typical day at our ulpan (Hebrew classes) here at Beit Ha'am in the city center of Jerusalem. Well, okay....so, it's not exactly a typical day, as you can already tell by the pictures below. It's the beginning of our in-class Purim celebrations and the school-wide Purim festivities that took place over the last week. Regardless, you can still get a feel for our classroom, which is composed of many age groups and nationalities, with people hailing from across the U.S., Russia, Belarus, France, Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, China, Austria, Australia, the United Kingdom and Honduras, just to name a few. We're quite a diverse group!
Here we are all dressed up for day one of the Purim celebrations:
After a lot of picture-taking and song-singing in the classroom (boy do we do a lot of that...), we headed downstairs to a large auditorium where the entire building full of Hebrew classes met to take part in some good ole' song singing and a reading of the Megillah (the Purim scroll detailing the story of the holiday). Each class had to perform a song or two and the teachers got together to do the Megillah reading, which they re-enacted in costume. As you might guess, we really enjoyed this portion of the show:
After getting up and dancing in the spirit of the holiday, it was time to feast. Here are some pictures from our in-class "mesiva" or party. There were a lot of "oznei haman" or hamantaschens in light of the holiday as well as some delicious burekas (thanks to Emilia!) which have now moved up my list to hold the spot of my very favorite burekas in Israel. And of course, some more song-singing (thanks to Joshua and his guitar):
We made our little star, Katya, get up and sing to us. She has a beautiful voice and has even performed at the Knesset, singing "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" (Jerusalem of Gold). This was followed by each of us singing a well-known song from our country of origin. Luckily, being one of a handful of Americans in the class, we had each other to drown out our voices as we elected to sing our country's beloved pastime, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game!" It was fun to hear the native languages in the form of a song. You know how you always ask someone to speak in a foreign tongue in order to hear the language? So, that part of it was quite fascinating. Now we are over halfway through our ulpan with classes finishing up in June. Will I continue on to ulpan "bet"!? (I am in ulpan "aleph", the very first level). Only time will tell! Rafi and I are looking forward to heading to Tel Aviv tomorrow to finish out the celebrations before getting back to reality.