Friday, June 19, 2009

2 years later...

So I'm sitting here in my room at Savta Nina's house and thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be something to update that old Israel blog of ours for the first time since 2007?" While I don't think I could possibly mention everything that has happened in two years, I'll list a few important events:

-Adopted two cats in December, Tukie (M'tukah=sweet girl) and Toby (Toviah = good boy)
-Accumulated three years of cantorial study at the HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music
-Finished a two year tenure as the first-ever cantorial intern at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York
-Celebrated second wedding anniversary on June 10 by attending the opening night of Shakespeare in the Park
-Back in Israel for the summer, interning at HUC in Jerusalem
-Donna will join me in July to participate in the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Yafo
-Beginning in the fall, I will be the student cantor at Temple Beth Shalom of Annapolis/Arnold, MD

It's hard to believe two years have gone by, but in the meantime life has been good to Mr. & Mrs. Breitzer. Perhaps during this summer in Israel we'll be able to post more regularly!

Monday, June 11, 2007


From the bottom of our hearts, we thank everyone who helped make yesterday the most wonderful day of our lives. Off to Seattle and Victoria!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Eight days away

After going to two weddings in Michigan last weekend, Donna and I arrived in California late Tuesday night. Since then, I've been fully engaged in helping prepare for our wedding. It's been really neat for me to play an active role (albeit a small one) in tending to the remaining details. I especially enjoyed picking up our completed ketubah (traditional Jewish wedding contract) and finally seeing the Hayes Mansion firsthand. This afternoon I met our fantastic wedding coordinators, and got a taste of the kind of planning Donna has been doing all this year from halfway across the world!

I can't believe the big day is only eight days away, and of course we still have much to do. Yet we haven't forgotten our priorities: Donna left a little while ago for her overnight bachelorette party in San Francisco. She was wearing the same outfit she wore on our first date over two years ago. Somehow, it seems fitting!

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Redemption

The war zone that was my room has been cleared, and so I had to redeem myself by showing these new photos... evidence that I am capable of bringing some order into my life!

I sort of got an idea of what it might have felt like building the Pyramids in Egypt when I was building the massive tower in the corner...

Wow, there's a rug under there!

Be sure to read Josh's eloquent post below!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The last exam has been taken. The last paper has been written. I've already said l'hitraot to some dear friends and to my beautiful fiancée. (read on to see what she's been up to...) All that remains for me here is a few more shared meals and one more trip to Rehovot to thank Savta and Saba for opening up their home (and refrigerator!) to us this year.

If I had to choose one word to sum up my experience here, it would be "revealing." I felt as though I pried up the huge rock that has always been there in the backyard, and saw for the first time all the fascinating stuff lying beneath it. Sure, it's a bit dirty, and there is strange stuff under there that might scare you off at first glance. But upon examining more closely, I encountered things I never knew, and learned more than I could have possibly imagined.

I know I'm not the first to have had a revealing experience in Israel, and I know I won't be the last. I only hope that people don't shy away from prying up a rock because they're afraid of getting their hands a little dirty. This is still a young country, with all the issues that any young country must face. Israel is still very much under construction (indeed, I can hear the bulldozers even here within the HUC library). It's a work in progress, and there is no telling when it will ever be completed. Maybe completion doesn't even matter -- maybe it's the work that counts.

In 1836, when the USA was 60 years old, slavery was still in full swing. The government was still very concerned with infrastructure -- basic utilities, public schools, transportation routes. Like Israel, it was a grand experiment, and nobody could have predicted it to turn out the way it has. Like Israel, it's still fraught with problems. And yet, like Israel, it's home.

And this is Donna's home, immediately following her wedding shower and a shopping spree:

I can't wait to come home. :)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pesach in Israel

Chag sameach! We are in the middle of the Passover week here in Israel and are enjoying very much spending the holiday here. It is a lot easier than trying to keep Pesach in the US! Here, many restaurants have kosher-for-Passover menus, there are all kinds of special foods in the stores, and, well, everyone else is keeping Passover so there aren't too many 'chametz' temptations!

This past week was very special for us, as Josh's dad Gerry made his first-ever trip to Israel. His stay was short but I think he got to see many aspects of Israeli life and culture, as well as some good tourism hot-spots. Among the sites we visited with Gerry were the Kotel, Jerusalem's Old City and Yad V'Shem; Massada, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea; Tel Aviv and Jaffo; Rehovot (to be treated to Savta's hospitality, of course!); and all over Jerusalem -- including the shuk. We even got lost in the Arab villages atop the Mt. of Olives, an experience which put us on edge at the time, but which is inevitable if you're trying to navigate Jerusalem by car...

And, of course, we enjoyed the Passover seder with my Israeli family. It was especially interesting to follow along the haggadah reading in Hebrew at the speed of lightning, which is about how fast my relatives were reading! The food and the conversation were great, however, and we were really happy that Gerry was with us. Everyone in my family likes him a lot!

Gerry left to go back to Michigan last night, and now we have another week of vacation ahead. Josh starts classes again on April 12, and I am teaching lessons and preparing for a Holocaust Memorial Day concert I'm singing in on April 16. Josh is also singing on the same day in a different concert that will be broadcast on the national arts and culture radio station.

Finally, some fun news: Josh and I finally booked reservations for our honeymoon! We're going to Victoria, British Columbia and will explore Seattle as well. Check out our lovely B&B in Victoria, the Ambrosia Bed and Breakfast!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Next year in... New York!

At long last, Passover break has begun, and with it comes some exciting developments!

We're finally done with the student pulpit placement process for the coming year, and I have been given the student cantor position at Congregation Emanu-El in New York City, the largest synagogue in the world. This is the first time they have ever taken on a student cantor, and I'll get many opportunities to perform beautiful music from the Classical Reform Jewish tradition with the senior cantor, professional choir and organ. I'll also be a part of their newly-revamped Lifelong Learning program, teaching music in the religious school, and even writing the occasional sermon! As if it weren't obvious, I'm very excited to be working there next year, especially since I'll be reunited with my old Glee Club bud Adam, who is continuing on as the rabbinical intern at Emanu-El.

In other news, my dad is arriving in Israel tomorrow for his first trip both to Israel and out of North America. He'll only be here for five days, so it's up to Donna and me to show him as good a time as possible. Highlights will include Shabbat dinner at Saba and Savta's, Shabbat morning services at HUC (featuring Donna's first traditional Torah chanting since 1992), Leil Seder at Dudi and Yehudit's, and trips to Masada and the Dead Sea. We'll be sure to get plenty of pictures to post!

I gave a concert last week in Tel Aviv of art songs by Arie ben Er'ez Abrahamson, a master jeweller by trade who not only survived the Holocaust in dramatic fashion but also wrote a lot of music. The works we performed were mostly taken from the 1930s-40s, in anticipation of Holocaust Remembrance Day next month. We'll be repeating the program on that very day - April 16 - here in Jerusalem, and it will be broadcast live across the country on Kol HaMusica, the Israeli classical music radio station! Should there be simultaneous streaming available, I will definitely put the link here.

Best to all for a happy and healthy holiday: chag sameach vekasher!