Holy Moly, the time is flying by. Too soon it will be over. I can’t seem to slow it down. At least every week is a week we are living to the fullest. I do have to admit that there are days and times when I am so very ready to be done. It usually happens during something like doing the dishes, when I feel nostalgic for days when we had a dishwasher. Or when I am making breakfast with lousy pans that make it so hard to fry eggs. We used to have all sorts of things for breakfast. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fried eggs, waffles, French Toast. Here the bread is lousy, so no French Toast. We have no waffle iron. The pans are bad, so frying eggs is tough and spraying oil onto the bad pans puts up a fine mist of smoke, but the sensitive fire alarms make them go off, so I just count on the fact that some people will have to evacuate their room due to the alarm that goes off every single time I fry eggs. Most oats you buy here have a very funny flavor, and we just can’t take it. As a result, it is very seldom that we have fried eggs or oats. In the end, we have either scrambled eggs or pancakes almost every day. I am not one who needs a lot of variety, and I love these breakfasts, but even I am getting sick of it. At least I love the yogurt here, I love to put it on my pancakes, it is so good. And I love the date honey we can put on our pancakes. Most of the time I love it, but I am starting to have more moments when I look forward to going home. Typically thinking of having to mow the lawn cures me of that.
Jacob drawing water at the well for Rachel/Ashley, at Neot Kedumim
In any case, it was one great week. Bright and early on Sunday the whole family went on a field trip with the students to Ne’ot Kedumim. We had a great time. We herded sheep. The kids loved that, and they were very good. Both groups in my class set a record for how well they did herding the sheep! These guys are good. We ground hyssop into a spice. Very Biblical, very good. As far as hyssop goes, it has antiobiotic properties which make it highly symbolic in rituals such as Passover, cleansing the leper, etc. We made shepherd’s pita the way they would have for thousands of years. We cooked some wheat and added date honey, probably very similar to what they would have done for Ruth when they fed her while she gleaned. We tried plowing, threshing, winnowing, and sifting. We acted out the Ruth story. We looked at all sorts of plants and got a feel for what they mean in the Bible. We learned from a Torah scribe about how to make Torah scrolls, and he performed the act of being a cantor from the scrolls with the Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Yemeni intonations. All in all, it was one incredible day. I think the kids really liked it.
The sheepherding crew. Our kids are mostly in the back.
Sabrina was a bit afraid to feed the sheep, but with a little help she did it
Alexia had no fears, and held a few sheep!
Kaleb and Alexia sifting wheat from chaff
The class learning about Torah Scrolls
Sabrina and Michelle grinding their hyssop
a small, blooming hyssop plant
Ground hyssop: the finished product
Jacob was wandering off all the time
Sabrina, Alexia and Lauren making pita
The threshing floor, with a winnowing fork, a sieve, plow, and threshing sledge
Justin pulling Kaleb on the threshing sledge
One cool incident is when our bus driver spied a huge asp just off the road, ran over it, backed up and let it start to chase the bus, then ran over it again. That was one big, bad snake, and it was right by a guy cutting trees. Lucky guy, good bus driver.
This was a big, bad, mad snake.
Jaker got a bit tired there
The next day we did a quick faculty field trip prep. Jeff and Kim Chadwick, Julianne and I, and Frank, all went out to a few great sites. We stopped off quickly in a likely site for Emmaus. We are looking into how to do a little hike there, so we can walk at least part of the road to Emmaus. Then we went out to what is almost certainly Sha’araim, the site of where the Israelites caught up to the Philistines after David killed Goliath, and they started slaying them there. The story makes such perfect sense to me in this way. The little city there is probably built where Saul’s camp would have been. You can look down into the Elah valley to where David would have slain Goliath. Then the Philistines would have started to flee to them to the West. But the valley jogs north and then west again right there, in a kind of “S” curve. The Bible says they started killing the Philistines in the “way to Sha’araim”. That would be right where they had to make their second turn as they were navigating the S curve. That is exactly the kind of place where one army will catch up with another, as they have to make turn after turn. What is more, if some of Saul’s camp had run down the hill into one part of the valley to chase them, but some had run down the other side, it is right in that curve where they would have caught the Philistines on 2 sides. The whole story works so well right there. It is incredible. I wish I had understood how this worked all the time, it would have been nice to explain it better all along the way. But at least I am learning and catching on now.
One of the gates of Sha'araim, looking down into the Elah Valley
From here you can see both parts of the S curve in the valley
>The part of the Valley where David slew Goliath, taken from the probably site of Saul's camp
Then we went to Tel Gurnah, which is probably Biblical Libnah. That place figures into the Bible a few places, but for us it is most prominent as the place that Josiah’s mother was from. Which makes it the place that Mulek of Book of Mormon fame, had relatives, since Josiah’s mother was his great grandmother. Fun stuff. They are just starting to excavate there. They have only done so for two seasons now. Interesting. I love getting a better feel for the land. This place is just outside of Mareshah, just a little further west in the Shpheylah than I usually go. It was a great day.
Jeff showing ut Tel Libnah
It was a busy week of class. This week we did exciting things like Elijah, Elisha, and the fall of the Kingdom of Israel. We got into some of the meatier stuff of the Old Testament. Plus I was able to send off a cd with all the material for publishing the proceedings of my 2006 conference on it. Then I got my dissertation rewrite finally all finished, and sent it off to the publisher. That was a great feeling. Then I got a long ways into rewriting my book on seeing God’s love in the Old Testament. It was a very productive week.
Highlights of the week also included a great forum speaker. Khaled Abu Tomeah is a Palestinian journalist. He calls it like he sees it. He describes eloquently the corruption among Palestinian leaders which has led to their never progressing in the way they should towards statehood or peace. He outlines the failure of foreign nations to understand what is going on here and to really help. He shows how foreign media so selectively covers things that they are essentially lying to the public. He demonstrates some serious shortcomings in Israeli policy. He is very, very insightful. I also gave some good friends a ride to the airport as they moved away. It made it clear how little time we really have left here. We celebrated Shavuot, but not as much as we should have. We had a fire outside the building that almost gave me a heart attack. Julianne had a hard time getting the car into the place because of all the fire trucks and smoke. She sent Tashara in to tell me she would be a while because of all of it. But Tashara came and told me that there was a fire and Mom was stuck because she couldn’t get through the smoke. She forgot to mention that Mom was not in any danger, and listening to her I assumed that Julianne was in the fire and couldn’t get out. I ran and ran, searching for her, heart pounding. When I couldn’t find her anywhere and Tashara explained a little more, I saw that she was probably okay and even called her. She was inside the building by then, having a nice time. I recovered later.
The fire damaged some of our security system. Here you can see how it came right up to our walls.
The students have been doing a fun thing here. I arrange my bus travel committee into a Harry Potter theme. We have the four houses, we have madame pomfreys, and each member of the committee is also part of the quidditch team, so that we have beaters, a seeker, etc. And Jeff Chadwick always adds lots of fun Potter lines to the stuff he does. This semester has really gotten into it. The JC is now Hogwarts, the Oasis/dining room has become the Great Hall, and all the faculty and staff have been assigned to different characters. Chadwick is the headmaster, Dumbledore. His wife is Trelawney. Ray Huntington is Cornelius Fudge, the minister of magic. His wife is Professor Sprout. The Judds are Arthur and Molly Weasley. And it goes on. Each group has a picture of who they are on their door with a little label denoting who they are. The headmaster’s office has a huge picture of the guardian gargoyle/eagle.
The Judd door
Now, to understand the story you have to know that when I started this the first semester I thought this might happen sometime. And I asked myself who I should be. I thought about it long and hard, and decided that I was most like Remus Lupin. He is a kind of shabby looking guy who would do anything to help, but every now and then he just might bite you. I’ve become quite taken with the Lupin character. As the students tried to decide who I should be apparently it was a split decision. Apparently most saw me as Lupin, but they just didn’t see Julianne as Tonks. So, the official decision was that we were James and Lily Potter. I am most flattered by this label. They are, after all, the best couple in the series. And Julianne is so Lily, beautiful, kind, good, inspiring love in everyone, reaching out to everyone, able to save by the sheer force of her love, and eventually willing to marry a guy with potential but who was a bit mischievous and sometimes too headstrong or rough around the edges. This really seemed to work, and I was happy with it. However, some were still describing me as Lupin, and I am also happy with that. I added the Lupin and Tonks sign to the James and Lilly sign, so that we have two. I did a little presentation on it as well in class with lots of pictures, just to make things fun (showing how, while I am Lupin-like, I wondered if they might think of me as Gilderoy, but then they would see that I certainly wasn’t stylish enough for that, so they would probably think of me as Mad-eye Muhlestein, but really the chance that I might bite you pushed us back to the Lupin identification, except how much Julianne is so like Lily, and BJ is like Harry, because afterall he sleeps in the entry way. But then I moved on to a Lord of the Rings theme and argues that I should be Aragorn. I acknowledged that many of them probably thought of me as Gollum, but that really when they thought of it, Julianne was a smashing Arwen, so I had to be Aragorn, though I am really more like Strider than Aragorn. They have decided to call me Strider). In Chadwick’s class he had also decided to do a little fun presentation with it. He changed his identity to Snape. He then identified Judd as Gilderoy, and me as Lupin. So, since three separate studies have identified me with Lupin, I think that is where the matter must stand. But I’m good with being both Lupin and James, since Julianne is so Lily. I am happy to report that Hogwarts is doing well, and we have not seen any dementors for some time now.
Our double identity door
We also had the talent show. It was our last time doing our Pirates of the Carribean act. It went well, but it is hard to believe it is over. Julianne and Tashara were also in a hula dance, and Julianne and the other older ladies here did a song called “waking up is hard to do” about the students having a hard time getting to class on time. The funniest part was how Julianne and Kim Chadwick hammed it up while they waited for some technical difficulties to be overcome so the song could start. But in the end it was great. The whole show was so funny. I laughed and laughed. We have funny people here. And of course, that is the best part. The people here are the best part. I love the people here.
We were pirates one last time
Julianne and Kim Chadwick making us laugh while they waited, and waited, and waited for the music to start
The whole crew when the music did start
Julianne and Tashara doing the hula