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A New Year and I got to celebrate, kinda

I traveled to Yerevan on Wednesday (Yom Kippur) morning to pray at the only synagogue in Armenia as I had last year. I was delighted to find 5 adult men and I had high hopes that we would have a minyan, but alas it was not so. A few men came and went during the morning and we ended up at 1:30 with seven of us, two Israeli tourists, four Armenians including the Rabbi and me. But at least I was there and I got to pray. I then got back on the marshutni (minibus) to Vanadzor, a beautiful two hour ride in the Armenia countryside and returned home to break the fast.

As usual I am preparing Shabbat dinner for friends here in Vanadzor. This week I am having my new friend Arman,his wife and their two children for dinner as well as some friends from the office. These dinners really set the tone for my week. I get to spend an afternoon cooking and then expose people to Judaism when I light the candles, and do the blessings over the wine and the bread. (No challah yet, I have a Peace Corps friend who is a baker who said she would help me do it one day.)

Projects are moving along as are my new English clubs. I realize I am not a very good teacher, but I seem to be able to keep their attention and sometimes they respond to my questions. They do tell me it is interesting and I make them think so I guess that is positive.

Well back to cooking.

Shabbat Shalom, La shana tova tekatavu (may you be inscribed in the Book of LIfe)

Love and miss you

I ‘m early this week

Because things are really popping now. I have just finished rearranging my apartment so I can have 24 for dinner – don’t ask, but I am sure it will work out. The mojo is back and projects are beginning to really come together. SOAR, one organization I work with this week delivered 61 new mattresses to the Vanadzor Orphanage, as president of the chapter I got to count them to make sure they were all there. Also the volunteers who are working with the Vanadzor Old Age Home have come together and are providing singing, dancing, games and other fun for the residents there on a weekly basis. My English Clubs are good fun with many new students and word is spreading so that I am now doing a special old folks (60 plus) English club for beginners. My work at Peace Dialogue continues to be both inspiring and rewarding with a brand new initiative coming starting. In Delijan, a community about 40 minutes away is a new branch of a school called UWC (United World Colleges). The goal of the school is to produce socially aware and responsible citizens to live in the diverse and interconnected world we now all live in. So I got to do a presentation to them to see if any of them want to volunteer at Peace Dialogue.. It was GREAT. There I was talking with these bright engaged youth from Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Brazil, Moldova….you name it and they were there. So now we wait and they decide if they want to volunteer with us or other organizations. I am hoping to get some so we can expand our outreach to their generation even more than we are now.
> Miss you all
> Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova

Roasting Eggplant on the stove

Good Shabbos,

Things have really gotten into gear here. My English clubs have gotten started and i have a great bunch of new students. I have even started an informal club for seniors at one of the local coffee houses at night after they are done work so they can practice their English. I think I actually met an older gentleman that can be my friend, tht would be very cool. His name is Arman and he is the Deputy Director of the Fire Dept side of Armenia 911. This is a very cool idea, which many in the MA have talked about. It is a combination fire, police, emergency dispatch service that is the centrla point for all emegency issues. They then dispatch the appropriate service, like our 911 but they seem to have a broader range of services and they are regional not local.

Work is picking up and we are both putting on some interns and reaching out to a very funky school where we hope to get some eager volunteers to help us make our programming more accessible to young people. The “UWC Dilijan is a community of like-minded people who think globally and feel a sense of responsibility for the future of the world.” I will be going there on Tueday to make a presentation and hopefully recruit some great talent.

Other than that life goes on it’s happy way here. Summer is turning into fall and soon the leaves will start changing and another season will have come and gone.

Shabbat Shalom