Today I got my first and (hopefully) only package from home!  I say hopefully because not only does it take a long time to get packages, but Israeli mail has an extremely frustrating tax law on all incoming packages: they have set up a list of all the things that they deem should be taxed in order to “protect the economy.”  The list is basically… everything that isn’t homemade food items (even clothes carry a 100% tax on their value!).  Electronics are especially expensive to send because the government scans everything and is known for opening any packages that beep (add to that, the fact that if it has a tax imposed on it, even if it is small, you can’t have it delivered–you have to pick it up yourself!).  Luckily, I only had to pay a small tax (I had my parents send me a phone accessory so I can plug my headphones in).  It was really great to get a real backpack and some Sweedish fish!!  When I was there, though, they asked if I wanted to pick up the center’s other two packages for my fellow students, and they cost 200 shekels (~$54) just to pick up!!  When we got back, I picked up the two cameras that I broke from the security desk.  Boy, am I glad to have that headache over with!

Later in the day, I went to an Ethiopian Church with my friends Danielle, Katie, and Lindsey. It was a Christian church, but the style was with more… colorful with rugs and paintings and candles and incenses. It was probably the most colorful church I’ve ever seen. There was nobody else inside but a sleeping guard, so we actually hung out there for a while because it was really cool inside, temperature wise, and a peaceful place to talk–we had a great gospel conversation about the Kingdoms of Glory. It also had this really amazing painted dome ceiling, with saints and angels all around it. 

Then, we went down the street from the church there is this street called Me’a She’arim. It is a Hasidic Ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. They had up all these signs that tell you that you have to be super modest and that they don’t like groups to come through and disrupt their neighborhood. A few people who have gone there told us that they got some dirty looks if the girls were wearing pants or if there were a lot of them, but my friends were all in skirts, so we were fine (except I felt a little self-conscious for not having my kippa with me…) and since there were only 4 of us people were pretty nice. We stopped at a bookstore to look for a journal for Katie, and it was cool to see all the books they had- 100% of them were in Hebrew. There were also a lot of little stores and fruit stands, and we even saw a shoe-maker’s store, where this guy was sitting at this intense sewing-machine stitching a black leather shoe. All of the little kids’ sidelocks were longer, thicker, and curlier than any I have seen anywhere else in the city.

At night, I watched a concert put on by Palestinian children in a special music initiative.  It was pretty good!

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L to R, Danielle, Lindsey, and Katie
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The inner sanctum
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The ceiling art
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A wider view of the ceiling art
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Me’a She’arim
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