Thursday, July 09, 2009

Old friends and new places

I have officially been in Israel for 48 hours. This is my 6th visit to Israel since 2003 and if you add up my trip have spent over 6 months here. While I wouldn't say I feel like a local or completely at home, I have made enough friends and spent enough time traveling around the contry for things to feel very familiar which makes it an easy place to visit.

Update on the food poisoning: the nausea subsided after the first 24 hours so no longer feel wretched. My tummy is still a bit funny when it comes to milk so am sticking to veg, liquids and bread but on the whole am much improved.

In the past 2 days I have been able to connect f2f with a number of research colleagues who are becoming friends. I am staying with my friend and research collaborator Oren Golan in Jerusalem. Together we met up with Batia Siebzhner for coffee to discuss her current work on the Jewish diaspora in Latin American. Yesterday I got to visit Beit Berl College North of Tel Aviv and spent time in the library reading an interesting book on Yeshiva Fundamentalism written by Oren's friend Nurit Stadler while he gave his student in his Internet Culture class their final exam. (I hope to connect with Nurit soon to learn more about her ethnograpic methods).

Afterwards we went birthday gift shopping for Oren's friend, we bought a coffee and then a suit case. Then we headed for a quick visit to Herzilla to see my friends Omri and Marianna Ruah Midbar who are also scholars in Internet studies. Marianna studies new age religion online Omri work in the philosophy of technology related to music online. They also have a cute and playful daughter named Thea Magia who has an impressive vocabulary for a 2 years old in 3 different languages (Russian, Hebrew & English).

Today Batia invited Oren and I to join a group from a conference she was attending at Yad Vashem, Israels main holocaust memorial. It is one of the few places I have not visited in Jerusalem and found it to be a powerful and melancholy experience, especially the Children's memorial paying tribute to the children who died in the camps. Now I am at Hebrew University, relaxing in the library after networking with Menahem Blondheim over lunch an a possible project on the "Peoples of the Book and New Media" we are looking at pursuing 2 years down the road. I have learned much from Menahem about Jewish views of communication and the media through reading and learning about his work over the numerous interactions since 2004.

So my stay is off the a full start, but so things will slow down as shabbat approaches and the need to get down to the business of why I am here analyzing research, doing interviews and writing about Orthodox views of the internet .



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