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Week 3- Sunday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 20, 2011 | No Comment |

On Sunday we went on a day tour that left the city centre at 9:45 a.m. and got back around 5:30 p.m. The weather wasn’t the best– it was overcast and rainy all day, but the views were beautiful all the same. Our tour guide, Tommy, was a friendly, jolly old Dubliner. First we stopped at a little lookout place over the water. Then we drove to a place called Killarney Bay, that Tommy said has been compared to Naples Bay. The water was beautiful: we could see the wind blowing over it, and we walked down to the beach and waded in the water and I collected some beautiful rocks that the water had made smooth.

Other places we passed on the way were Blackrock (“and that’s what they call a bad day at Blackrock”) and a small town called Bray. Tommy played the song “Galway Girl” over and over at least 5 times in the van and tried to get us all to join in.  It’s actually not a bad song– youtube it when you get the chance (after the 3 weeks).  He also played traditional Irish dance music– fun stuff!

Then we drove up into the Wicklow mountains. The views were stunning, but the wind was very strong and loud– my ears hurt afterward. Thankfully, the wind was blowing us toward the mountain, instead of in the other direction, or we would have fallen off. There were lakes in the valley, and we could see a man’s private beach there. He invites friends for parties and they all arrive by helicopter, but he also has donated a large portion of his land to the public.

We saw the bridge that was made famous in the movie P.S. I Love You (never saw it) and the rivers running under it that Tommy said are where the water that goes into Guinness Beer comes from.  The water was brown because of the peat in it, and it looked like a river of beer– like the river of chocolate in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I finally realized why a lot of the pictures I was taking weren’t coming out so well, by the way.  Apparently my camera was set to “low color.”  After a lot of playing around with it, I switched it to high color, so once I’m finally able to put pictures up (which doesn’t look like it’ll be before I get to Israel), the pictures after this point will be markedly better.

After Wicklow mountains we stopped at a rest stop.  I ate my lunch outside and then joined the girls inside.  The other girls went to look at the gift shop, but I sat with Diana while she finished her tea and talked to her about Switzerland for a bit.  Diana, by the way, looks very similar to Jessie Wilcox Smith’s illustration of Clara in my copy of Heidi, but her personality is very different.

Then we drove to Glendalough, which was beautiful.  Tommy took us through a cemetery and some ruins of old monasteries and churches.  He also told us about a magical Celtic cross that people put their arms around and make a wish and it will come true– other girls in the program did it for fun, but I don’t go in for such nonsense.  We braved the rain and took a walk around the lower lake (I even waded in a little bit).  It was beautiful, in a lovely, misty sort of way.

Finally we headed home.  I was really tired, and cold, and wet, so I jumped right into the shower, and then took it easy for the rest of the night– reading and relaxing.

under: Week 3

Week 2- Shabbos

Posted by: Yocheved | July 19, 2011 | No Comment |

This Shabbos there was a big crowd at Chabad– in a good, fun, friendly, getting to know new people way.  Whereas last week there were just two other people and me together with the Rabbi’s family, this week we had nearly 30, including Menachem Menchel, a girl named Kayla who hails from Kew Gardens Hills, two sheluchim who are going around Ireland trying to get people to put on tefillin and light shabbos candles, some students from Emery College in Georgia, an Israeli from Petach Tikvah (who laughed when I immediately said, “Em Hamoshavot!”), a girl from Miami named Jennifer who was also staying at the student center, and many others.

The food was delicious– chicken, rice with mushrooms, salads, potato kugel, zucchini… (I’m writing this on a fast day, so bear with me here).  Since I had been there the previous week, I knew my way around the rebbetzin’s kitchen a little better and I was able to be more helpful.  I sat by Menachem and the students from Emery, and we had a good time.

After the meal, Jennifer’s friend (I don’t remember his name) and Kayla were both going back to the city center (a good hour and a half’s walk), and the student house was on the way so they walked us back.  Jennifer and I stayed up for a while at the center, chatting with Tim, a frum boy our age who grew up in Dublin.  He told us the community is much smaller than I understood from last week– that most of the people in the shul were visitors– and this seemed to be proved true the next day in shul, when there was an appeal made that people should make an effort to come to shul during the week, because apparently they were having trouble getting a minyan together on some days.  Tim said that he loves Dublin and thinks it’s the best place to live, because you are a 15 minute drive from the mountains and also a 15 minute drive from the beach.  But he plans to move, probably to Israel, because he says that Ireland isn’t really the place to raise an Orthodox family– people are moving away and the community is dying.

The next day I had lunch at the rabbi’s.  It was pareve, but we didn’t have ice cream for dessert, although we did have some delicious banana cake.  After lunch, Rabbi Lent recommended Rathfarnham Castle again, and since a bunch of people were going there and nobody was going straight back to the center, I decided to join them.  I’m beginning to be sort of an expert on Rathfarnham Castle.  Anyway, a bit more on the castle that I think I forgot to mention last week: the Georgian style loved things to be symmetrical, so when there was a door on one side of a room, there had to also be a door on the other side of the room.  In one such instance, we saw a door that opened to a stone wall– the door led to nothing, but it had to be there to preserve the symmetricality.  You can really see that figuring into a Marx brothers routine.  They also had an invisible door, made to blend into the wall, so that the servants could slip in and out without being too noticeable.

My favorite part of the castle, though, was that when the lords and ladies went out, they never had to bother about bringing a key with them.  There was a porter who had a special porter’s chair by the door, and his job was to open the door to whoever came in.  His chair was in a corner by the door, but not facing the door, because then he would be too visible, and servants were supposed to be invisible.  So how did he know if someone was coming?  There was a mirror across from him and the door, and he would look at the mirror and be able to see the walkway up to the castle.

Of course I couldn’t take a picture, but the chair looked much like this one I found through Google, except without the weird metal thing sitting on it:

chair

This time I also took a little walk around the castle grounds.  They have a playground, but they also have a walkway that goes through a number of trees and finds a pond with a lot of ducks, and a bridge over it.  I sat on a bench for a bit– the view was lovely and I would have liked to sit there and read for a while, but of course I hadn’t a book with me.

Then I went back to the student center– I got caught in the rain on the way back, for it was cold and rainy most of Shabbos– and I chatted with Kayla for a while before going to my room and reading Patricia C. Wrede’s Searching for Dragons, the sequel toDealing with Dragons.  At around 8:20 p.m. I went to the Rabbi’s and got to have a little cholent before going to mincha, shalosh seudos, and maariv at the shul.

After shul, Kayla, Jennifer, and her friend whose name I can’t remember went back to the student house, got our stuff together, and then we all shared a cab to the city center.  Kayla didn’t have any money with her because all her stuff was at her hostel at the city center, so I paid for her, because it will be easy enough for her to pay me back when I’m in Queens.

I read a bit and then went to bed, and scared my roommates when they came in later, because they hadn’t expected me back until Sunday morning, which was my original plan.  It was more convenient for me to be back Saturday night because we were going on a day trip Sunday morning, so when the others were also coming back to the Temple Bar area I was glad to come back with them– otherwise I would have taken a bus in the morning; I wouldn’t have wanted to travel alone at night.

under: Week 2

Week 2- Friday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 17, 2011 | No Comment |

On Friday morning, as you may have noticed, I spent quite a bit of time updating this blog.  Then Cynthia and I went to take a tour of Dublin Castle at 12:00 p.m., but the next available tour didn’t start until 1:00 p.m., so Cynthia went back to the hostel while I decided to check out City Hall, which is right next door.  The upstairs of City Hall is a beautiful rotunda, with statues and a high ceiling covered in paintings.  But the exhibit downstairs wasn’t really worth it– it summarized a lot of history but in a boring and difficult to understand way, and it was poorly lit.

But Dublin Castle was stunning.  I have absolutely gorgeous pictures.  There was a ladies room (with ceiling to floor mirrors) where women would sit and wait for the men to come in and ask them to dance (if you weren’t asked you just had to sit there for the entire night, until the party broke up around dawn).  The women had to be careful not to sit too near the fire, or their white face makeup would melt– from which we derive the term “to lose face.”  The flags in the courtyard are from each county of Ireland, and the flags in St. Patrick’s Hall (the most grand room in the castle, where presidential inaugurations now take place) are decorated with the coats of arms of people who have been knighted.  Kate said she has a cord that might connect my camera to a computer, so hopefully I will be able to upload pictures soon.

We also saw the place outside where the Jan 16, 1922 ceremony in which control of Ireland was handed over from England to Ireland took place.  Michael Collins showed up 7 minutes late to the event, and when Lord Lieutenant Fitzalan remarked upon it, Collins replied, “We’ve been waiting over seven hundred years, you can have the extra seven minutes.”

After the tour we had an acting class with Martin.  We worked on the same stuff- Riders and Playboy, and we performed both scenes for everybody in the class.  We are supposed to know them cold for Monday.

Then I stopped back at the hostel, did some last minute packing, and showered and got ready for Shabbos.  I took my stuff with me back to school, where we were to see a performance of Beckett that had been directed by Cathal.

The first piece, “Rockabye”, was monotonous and a bit boring.  It was basically just a woman rocking back and forth in a rocking chair while a very repetitive poem pre-recorded in a monotonous voice played in the background.

The second piece, “Catastrophe”, was a little better– it at least held my interest.  It was a director (excellently played by Cathal) and his assistant making a dirty, miserable man model for them as a “catastrophe.”  In the end of the piece, the man straightens up out of the position they put him in as a sort of silent rebellion.

I missed the last two pieces, “A Little Piece of Monologue” and “Play”, because I left at intermission to go to the student house for Shabbos.  But from what I hear, I didn’t miss all that much.  I like Waiting for Godot and pieces of Happy Days are entertaining to read (although I don’t think I could stand to watch the whole show), but I’m not a big fan of Beckett’s short theatre pieces– the ideas aren’t as developed and, to be quite frank, I think they’re just plain weird.

I took a bus to the student house and soon after arriving there I walked to the Rabbi’s house.  More on Shabbos in the next post.

under: Week 2

Week 2- Thursday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 15, 2011 | No Comment |

In the morning we had class with Cathal Quin (Cathal is a man’s name, by the way, and the ‘t’ is silent).  We worked on three monologues from Happy Days.  As in our last class, he had us mark the punctuation with our hands as we read the pieces, then walk the punctuation as we read it– changing directions at every comma and stopping at the periods.  In Happy Days, it starts off with Winnie up to her waist in mud; in Act II she is up to her neck in mud.  So Cathal had us split into partners and one partner would lie on the other one to act as the mud while the other would read it– first covering up everything up to the waist for one monologue, and then covering up everything up to the neck for the last monologue.  Have I mentioned how happy I am that there are no boys in this program?  Blair was my partner.  Then one partner would sit in a chair reading the last monologue while the other partner would sneak up on them from the other side of the room and at the end try to silence them.

We also discussed the meaning of the monologues from a literary analysis standpoint, which is right up my alley.  I really enjoy Cathal’s classes.  It’s too bad we only have him one more time.

Then we had lunch.  I stopped by the grocery store and got some more bread (my first loaf mysteriously disappeared from the refrigerator, so I’m keeping this one in my room) and a package of Weetabix, and some yoghurts (I like to spell it with the ‘h’, ok?  It’s acceptable).

Then we had acting with Martin again– warm up, Playboy, Riders, and cartwheels (well, that last one was just me).

At 7:00 we saw a one-man show Iscariot that Patrick had written performed at Gaiety by a graduate of the full time program.  I didn’t know who Iscariot was– apparently it’s another name for Judas and the whole play was about how guilty he feels about betraying Jesus.  The play was intense, but very ugly, and not really my thing, besides the fact that I didn’t know any of the background.  Thankfully, it was only about half an hour long– the room was way too hot and I don’t think I could have lasted much longer.

After the show they had a big dinner at the hostel for Bastille Day, so I sat with them and ate some grapes.  Then I went back up to the room, and Cynthia joined me soon after.  I taught her how to play Fluxx and we played a few games.  Then we sat up talking for a while and finally fell asleep around 1:00 a.m. I think– I don’t know what time Ashley and Kate finally came back to the room, but it must have been late because right now it’s 12 pm on Friday and Kate is still fast asleep.

under: Week 2

Week 2- Wednesday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 15, 2011 | No Comment |

On Wednesday morning we had Denis O’Brien again.  He talked about Waiting for Godot, the play in which nothing happens.  He read aloud some excerpts from a book called Beckett Remembering, Remembering Beckett and some interviews with actors who worked with Beckett.  One actress was complaining that she had ten days to learn the part of Winnie from Happy Days and that every time she would ask Beckett about what something meant or what Winnie was thinking at a point in the play, he would answer, “Tis of no importance.”  She wanted to ask, “If tis of no importance, why did you write it?” but she didn’t.  There was also an actor playing Pozzo who got nervous and skipped 8 pages in the script, so he went back and did them over and then repeated parts they had already done, and nobody in audience noticed.  Some people in the audience, when Gogo asked for a bit of rope to hang himself with, shouted, “Give him a rope!”

Then we had lunch and then Martin’s class.  We kept working on the monologues and on Riders. Every time he goes out of the room to work with someone on a monologue or just to get something, I work on my cartwheels– Ashley and Blair are teaching me how to do them, but I’m still not very good.  He also handed out scenes to work on from Playboy of the Western World— I’m Pegeen in the scene in which she fights with Widow Quin over Christy at the end of the first Act.  Blair is playing the boy.

After class I had dinner and then went on the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl, which was really, really good.  One of the two actor/tour guides had trained at the Gaiety School of Acting’s two year full time program.  They told us some history about the pubs and about the writers and performed from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, James Plunkett’s Big Jim, James Joyce’s Ulysses (from the end, so we won’t have to read the whole thing), and a letter written by Oscar Wilde about lecturing to a mining city in Colorado on the subject of “Art and Aesthetics” and drinking all the miners under the table.

We also heard about Brendan Behan, who started drinking at the age of 8 and claimed that he was “A drinker… with a writing problem,” and said, “There is no bad publicity except an obituary.”  When a reporter saw him in a pub in Canada and asked him why he had decided to visit the country, he said it was because he saw a sign that said, “Drink Canada Dry,” so he obeyed.

Then they asked questions and if you got them right you could win a T-shirt and a small bottle of whiskey.  I got three questions right– Oscar Wilde lectured to the miners on “Art and Aesthetics,” one of the bars we had visited used to be called “The Monico,” and that John Lennon was the Beatle that had worked on a show that Beckett also worked on, but both dropped out of it.  But they only heard me say the answer to the Art and Aesthetics question right, so I didn’t get the T-shirt.  Anway, I didn’t really know the John Lennon answer, he was just the only Beatle whose name I could remember so I guessed him.

I stayed by the front of the group the whole tour so that I could chat with the tour guides when we walked from place to place and hear what they were saying to other people.  They were very interesting and  nice– my advice is to always stick by the tour guide whenever you tour anything because you pick up extra bits of info.

under: Week 2

Week 2- Tuesday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 15, 2011 | No Comment |

On Tuesday morning we started off the day with a cultural visit to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).  Our tour was a little truncated because we got there late (not our fault, the school’s), but I didn’t really care because I’m not a big fan of modern art.  The building was interesting because it used to be a hospital for British soldiers.  It’s right near Kilmainham Gaol, and the head of the hospital was usually also very involved in running the jail.

We saw a piece that had been done by an artist while on the train– every time she traveled on the train in NY she would crocehet black yarn, and when she got to her stop she would end it, and then she hung all her bits of crocheting on the wall as an art piece.  Okay.  I can do that too Punchinello funny fellow.

We also saw a piece that looked like a bunch of black squares, but the two bottom corners were canvas colored instead of black.  And a big black sculpture that looked sort of like a piece of Swiss cheese with other stuff around it.  Like I said, modern art really isn’t my thing.  The only thing I sort of liked that I saw in the museum was a simple drawing of a daisy named “Tomorrow”.  It was a simple drawing on a white background, but when you stood in front of it, the glass reflected your face.  I don’t know if the artist intended that, but it’s sort of a nice touch to read “Tomorrow” and then see your face with a daisy next to it.

Then we had some time to wander ourselves.  I went outside to the 18th century gardens outside the museum that were designed for the hospital grounds.  They were lovely– the best part of the museum in my opinion.  There are tiny wild daisies that grow all over here, so I put some in my hair.  The gardens had all these twisty paths and a fountain and sculptures… I have pictures, but I still can’t find a way to upload them.

Then we came back and had a quick lunch before Martin’s class.  We warmed up and then worked on scenes that he gave us from Riders and the Sea, by Synge, while he took people out one by one and saw them do Deirdre and the Sorrows.  I was satisfied with how I did the monologue for a first time, and Martin gives a lot of really good constructive criticism, which I really appreciated.  I don’t like the scene from Riders and the Sea (I’m playing Nora), though– the entire play is terribly depressing.  Deirdre has some happy memories going for her, and she has pride and anger, so she doesn’t just wallow in misery.  But the characters in Riders seem to just wallow– there is absolutely no humor or happiness to contrast with the misery in that play.

After class I had a quiet night– I hung out with the other girls, ate dinner, and finished Dealing with Dragons.

under: Week 2

Week 2- Monday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 14, 2011 | No Comment |

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.  Thank you.

Quick– where’s that from? I’m very sad, because nobody here gets my movie references.  When I asked Chani Lent (the rabbi’s daughter) how old she was, and she said three and a half, and I replied, “My!  Practically a lady,” nobody got it.  The Irish plays have the word “surely” all over, and when I said, “Stop calling me Shirley,” people didn’t get it.  And Cynthia asked me what time it was, and I said “Summertime!” and (gasp!) she didn’t know that one either.

Anyway, the above quote is from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The old one, not the creepy new one that I didn’t see.  I think he says it in the book too.  Anyway, it describes my current situation exactly, which is why I must apologize for the hiatus I have taken from blogging this week.

But now I’ll go back and try to fill in the gaps a little.  On Monday morning we had class with Denis O’Brien.  We discussed the audience reception of J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, which was mostly negative.  People were upset that it used the word “shift,” meaning a woman’s undergarment, which was considered very crass.  But more than that, Irish people were very upset because they felt the play showed them in a negative light as people who were gullible and glorified murderers instead of upholding justice.  This was especially upsetting for the Irish, who were trying to get their independence, because now people would point to this play and say that of course the Irish weren’t capable of governing themselves.  So everywhere the play toured the show– in Ireland, England, and America– people threw things at the cast and made a ruckus so that nobody could hear the show at all.

Denis also talked a bit about O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock and Plough and the Stars, but I hadn’t read either of those.  They’re different from Synge in that they are set in the city instead of in the country, but they’re similar in that they still deal with everyday people’s lives and daily struggles.

After lunch we had an acting class with a new teacher for us, Martin Maguire.  Martin is really nice and puts you at ease.  We did a walk around warmup (that it seems we do every day) and a little bit of a vocal warmup.  We also played a game where everyone starts against a wall and when he says “Go!” we all have to run in the center and sit on each other in such a way that everybody has a seat and nobody is falling on the floor.  To show that we can balance we have to put our hands up.  We did it a few times; our best time was 3 seconds.  We would have gotten a faster time earlier except that somebody (I think it was Diana) tickled me when I put my hands up– so not fair!

We also practiced walking around the room with our eyes closed.  First you just had to take about ten steps with your eyes closed and trying not to bump into anyone or anything.  Then we were split up into threes and two people would guide the third person, who had her eyes closed, around the room for about five minutes.  After each of us had a turn doing that, we all had to walk around the room individually with our eyes closed for a few minutes– of course, now it was expected that we would bump into each other.  The next step was that every time you bumped into a person, you would take each other’s hands.  After doing that for a few minutes, the next step was that every time you bumped into a person, you would take each other’s hands, and then travel up to her face and cup her face in your hands.  The step after that was that after cupping her face, you would bump noses with her.  (Did I mention how glad I am that there aren’t any boys in my program?)  It was awkward when you bumped into more than one person at once– it’s hard to do this as a threesome.

Anyway, I didn’t love that exercise, especially because my roommate has had conjunctivitis all week and I really, really don’t want to catch it.  Martin kept saying that if you weren’t bumping into people you should listen for movement and try to bump into people, but every time I heard someone move I would walk in the other direction.  I still ended up bumping into a lot of people, though.  I was sure that everyone in the class would have a pimple on the end of her nose the next day.

We also did an exercise in which you lie on the floor and pretend that you just woke up after being asleep for your entire life (sort of a Rip Van Winkle thing).  It’s important not to plan ahead what you’re going to do– just wake up and let it come to you.

At the end of class, Martin assigned a “snot and tears” monologue from the end of Synge’s Deirdre and the Sorrows.

After class, we were supposed to have a cultural event involving Irish music at Temple Bar.  I didn’t realized that they meant the bar Temple Bar, not the area of the city called Temple Bar.  So this was my first time in a bar.  I ordered a water.  I hung out with the group there for about an hour, but the music was definitely not Irish, although it was loud enough so that you couldn’t have a comprehensible conversation.  Anyway, I was getting hungry, so I left to go have my own dinner at the hostel and work on learning the monologue for the next day.  I also read some of Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons, because it is an awesome book.

under: Week 2

Week 2- Sunday

Posted by: Yocheved | July 12, 2011 | No Comment |

Sunday morning I got up and walked to the rabbi’s house to get a list of kosher food in Ireland.  I took the bus from there to Kinlay House.  Then Kate, Ashley, Nico, and I walked to Kilmainham Gaol.  It’s a jail where a lot of Irish rebels and criminals were held as prisoners.  The conditions were quite terrible.  I took a lot of pictures.  The more important rebels actually had better conditions because they had more influential families.  But there was very little light, and often the prisoners were two and three to a cell because there were so many.  There were a lot of women who were poor and didn’t have any way of keeping themselves alive except through prostitution who ended up in the jail; the youngest inmate known was a five-year-old boy who was imprisoned for stealing a bit of chain.  If you could work, you could get sent to jail was the rule.

The inmates used to have a lot more solitary confinement and weren’t allowed to talk with one another, but when Lord ___ (I can’t remember his name, unfortunately) was put in charge, he received bribes from the English to let them know what the prisoners were saying, so he made new rules that would bring the prisoners in more contact with one another so that he could overhear them.  The wealthy, influential prisoners used to eat lunch in their rooms alone and they could even join together in one room or another to eat.  Lord _____ said that if they wanted to eat together, they had to eat in the hall where everyone could see (and where he could overhear them) and that they had to bring their chamber pots to the table with them, and if they needed to use the chamber pots during the meal, they had to do so at the table.  They also were required to wash their own dishes… in the chamber pots.

The newer wing of the jail was the panoptican, meaning the all-seeing eye, because the guards could see and hear everything in every cell very easily.  It was also called that because G-d could see you all the time—the Victorians believed jail should not just punish you, but reform you.

The jail closed soon after the Irish Civil War, and in 1960 there was talk of demolishing it, but prisoners and guards alike volunteered to restore the prison and worked to save it.  140 people were publicly hanged at the jail, many others were executed by firing squad, and thousands more died because of the terrible conditions they lived in—poor food, feces, vomit, wind and cold, and walls made of limestone that took in water and rotted.

In 1960, the empty prison was falling apart and there was talk of tearing it down.  But prisoners and prison guards alike returned to save the jail and volunteered to clean it up and restore the building.  Much of the funds for repairing the building now come from allowing movies to shoot scenes at Kilmainham Gaol.

More info on the jail here.

After the jail, Nico and I went on to the Dublin zoo (Ash and Kate opted to eat instead).  I’ve always wanted to visit a zoo and a prison in the same day, and now I can finallyIt turned into a nice day at this point (the weather is really changeable here– it’ll be really sunny, and then half an hour later turn cloudy, and then half an hour later rainy, and then half an hour later sunny again), and we enjoyed looking at the different animals.  It wasn’t all that different from any American zoo– I wouldn’t say if you were going to Dublin that you have to see the zoo– but it was in the area and it was very nicely landscaped.  And Nico is Romanian, so I don’t think she had seen as nice a zoo before.  We got there sort of late in the afternoon, though, so we didn’t get to see everything before they kicked us out.  But then we sat for a bit in Phoenix Park, which was really pretty, and on the way back we walked through a very pretty garden and took pictures (I have a ton– I will post them one of these days!)

After we got back, I went to the store and bought bread, which is a welcome addition to my diet, as well as Nutella (delicious) and Nature Valley Bars (that have an OU on them!  So exciting!) and canned corn.  Then I worked on these blogs, because even though I couldn’t post them when the server was down, I was able to write them in Word and save them to post later.

I miss you all so so much, and I’m thinking about all of you.  Mazel tov to Yael and Eran on their new baby girl!

under: Week 2

Day 6

Posted by: Yocheved | July 12, 2011 | No Comment |

Friday night and Shabbos lunch I ate by Rabbi Lent and his wife Rifky.  They have two daughters and two sons—I made friends with the youngest child, Chana, who is 3 and a half.  The rabbi and his wife are from Manchester.  Even though they are Chabad, the shul isn’t, so davening was Ashkenaz and started at 9:15 a.m.  It was followed by a Kiddush, where I got to meet some people in the community, including a girl named Chana who is studying animation, and a girl named Eleanor who is working in sales and living at the center—both Israelis.

Eleanor came to lunch at the rabbi’s along with two other Israeli girls—Tala and something that sounded like Hela—and Paul, an American who was studying in Israel for the past two years and is touring Europe before starting a Phd Physics program in Texas.  Paul was also at the meal the night before and also stayed at the student center, which I was glad of because it meant that he accompanied me back there after the meal on Friday night.  After lunch, the rabbi recommended we visit Rathfarnham Castle, which is a few blocks away from his house and offers free tours, advice which Tala, Hela, Paul, and I decided to follow.

The castle was beautiful, although not nearly so large as Dublin Castle.  It was built by a family of English lords, but then some Jesuits took over and used it as a seminary for a while, and then they sold it to the state.  The castle is in the process of being restored.  The ceilings had beautiful rococo designs, and the furniture and doorways were very ornate.  There were also portraits of the family and a copy of a painting that a family member may have done while on a Grand Tour of Europe. Much of the original artwork in the castle had been sold in auctions by the castle’s owners in poorer times (relatively speaking), but the Jesuits had put in some Christian paintings in the empty spots.  The Jesuits were pretty open about keeping the paintings of mythology that were there, though, such as the pictures on a ceiling of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, represented by cherubs, surrounding the Greek deity Ceros (from which the word cereal is derived).  It seems the Jesuits were very well-educated—they majored in a subject other than theology (like math, science, history, or literature) before becoming priests.  The Jesuits also didn’t deal with money, because there was a Bursar in the castle that took care of everything and the seminary supplied the priests with food, shelter, and transportation.

Every room in the castle had a fireplace; but apparently the inhabitants still used to complain in all their letters about how cold it was.  The castle now has temperature control, but it’s all done through the floors so that everything looks old-fashioned.

The castle used to have a problem with teenagers hanging around the grounds and leaving beer bottles and graffiti and stuff.  Then they built a playground for children, and the teenagers vanished.

After the castle we went back to the student center and I read and slept until 7:45, when I left to go to the rabbi’s house for shalosh seudot.  Then we had shul and then they had another shalosh seudot in shul, but I didn’t eat again, but I did meet a nice woman named Charlotte with a daughter Dina, who is my age and is training to be a midwife.  Charlotte invited me for the meals on July 23rd, when the rabbi will be away on a Birthright trip.

After maariv I got a lift back to the student center, where a sefardi Israeli boy made havdalah again (and their havdalah is way different from ours, let me tell you– sefardim are so cool!) and I went to sleep soon after.

under: Week 1

Day 5

Posted by: Yocheved | July 12, 2011 | No Comment |

So much for blogging every day, right?   Sorry the server went down—something was up with all qwriting, not just my blog.

On Friday we had class at 11 with Denis O’Brien.  We discussed hiberno-English and how Yeats and Lady Gregory started the National Theatre of Ireland, which became the Abbey Theatre (where we saw Translations) because it was on Abbey Street.    Yeats didn’t speak Gaelic, but he advocated using the hiberno-English dialect that applied rules of Irish grammar to English words—basically, the Hollywood versions of Irish we see in the movies.  This was part of an attempt to preserve the Irish culture.  Despite the hatred between the Irish and the English, the Irish (especially those in the cities) were imitating the English ways—taking on their language for instance.

Yeats and Lady Gregory advocated using theatre to jumpstart the embrace of Irish culture because theatre is a collaborative effort, and because theatre appealed to Irish tradition of oral storytelling.   Irish plays are usually set in a cottage in a small village in Ireland, because those villages had a more pure Irish culture that was not so adulterated by English and other influences.

Yeats encouraged J.M. Synge, the playwright of Playboy of the Western World to go out to the Aran Islands.  Synge had been studying French drama and criticism, but in 1896 Yeats told him:

“Give up Paris. You will never create anything by reading Racine, and Arthur Symons will always be a better critic of French literature. Go to the Aran Islands. Live there as if you were one of the people themselves; express a life that has never found expression.”

Synge did just that—he went out and lived in the Aran Islands for years.  He was also influenced by such good old Americans as Whitman, Thoreau, and Emerson.  And then he came out with Playboy, which we then discussed in class as a play about collaboration: Christy Mahan and the villagers collaborate to create the idealized persona of the Playboy, which Christy then transforms into.

Then we had a lunch break.  I took Eileen’s advice and went down to Moore Street and bought some fruit—it was really very cheap.  I also got some grapes and cherries to give the chabad rabbi as a thank you present for having me.

I got back to school in time to change for Patrick’s class.  It was a lot of fun.  First we did some improvised scenes, aiming for less conversation and more pauses.  Then we had small improv scenes with the rest of the class watching that were very still.  I didn’t go in for those so much.  Patrick also had us stand still without moving at all while he said different lines for us to think about—“Something has reminded you of your childhood,” and so on.  I think the general idea was to relax the idea that you always have to be “performing” and doing something big and brilliant onstage—the important thing is just that you be present in your body.

Then we did our Godot scenes and our short Beckett scenes.  For “Not I,” Patrick had people stand behind us and check to make sure that our shoulders weren’t moving while we talked.  He said whoever moved her shoulders the least would get a cash prize.  I won, having moved my shoulders only twice, and got a euro!

Patrick, and indeed all the girls, are fascinated by Judaism, especially by Shabbos and shomer negiah.  They asked me all about what we do and don’t do on Shabbos and all about our dating process and whom I’m allowed to marry and so forth.  Some of the girls even expressed an interest in going to a shul and a Shabbos meal and seeing what it was like.  I didn’t bring them to the Chabad with me.

After class I packed and showered (I managed to get hot water in our room!) and headed off to the Chabad.  I took the bus to the shul (which is next to the rabbi’s house), but it turns out that the student center, where I was to sleep, was a good 20 minute walk away, so I had to walk to the center and then back for the meal at the rabbi’s.  The student center is very nice, though, and I had my own room, which after sharing with three other girls, I very much appreciated.  The girl running the center is from France and very nice, and we also met some Israelis, and a Dubliner named Tim, who are staying at the center more full time.

under: Week 1

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