Saturday, January 30, 2010

SHALOM, I'm Back!


I’m back! Back from three of the best weeks of my life, living out of a suitcase, staying in hostels, speaking Hebrew to anyone who would listen, and falling in love with the most fantastic group of L.A. Jews on earth in the most amazing country on earth - ISRAEL!

Just a few weeks ago, I nervously headed to the airport with (way too many) suitcases in hand, not knowing what to expect. I have been to Israel before, but never as a participant on this type of trip. Everyone I know has always told me what an unbelievable time they had on Birthright, and I wanted my own trip to be just as great.

I worried for nothing. Unbelievable does not even begin to describe it!

For 12 days, our group of forty young Jewish adults from Los Angeles toured Israel from top to bottom, accompanied by our trusty guide Shachar and 8 young Israelis. We did it all - the Western Wall, the Dead Sea, the Golan Heights. We laid on the beach in Tel Aviv and climbed Masada at sunrise (you can imagine how much I enjoyed hiking in the middle of the night). We danced with Holocaust survivors and played with Arab kids at their school. We paid our respects at Har Herzl and Yad Vashem and ate our way through every shuk we could find. We learned and laughed and asked questions and soaked up everything we could while we were there.

There is no possible way to sum up the trip so that all the amazingness can be explained. Instead, I thought I’d try to do it justice by including a little Top Ten list of the things I’ll never forget about Birthright Winter 2010 with Bus 15. Here we go!

10. The people - I’m starting with this one right off the bat, because this trip would have been NOTHING without them. I could not love a group of people more than our bus, and I feel lucky beyond belief that we all ended up together. Everyone meshed perfectly and got along so well - I really feel like I have 47 new best friends. The amount of fun we managed to cram into 12 days blows my mind - front of the bus shenanigans with Ashley, Ashley, Cara, and Charity, or watching Ross tumble headfirst inside the side of Masada and be brave enough to continue up with blood gushing from his head, or being miserable together in the goddamn Bedouin tent with Danielle and Michelle, or posing for crazy pictures with Alex.... I wish I could name every single person and show you their picture and tell you how special they are, but I know I’d lose all my readers :) I’ll just say that I know most of these people will be my friends for a long, long time.

9. The Israelis - technically, they count as part of #10. But these eight people are so special to me that they deserve their own number. I have always been jealous of people who talk about their family or their friends in Israel - while I know lots of people who live in Israel, they’re virtually all Americans who have made aliyah and now live there. Now, I can proudly say that I have my own friends in Israel - wonderful, generous, intelligent, incredibly kind friends who made our trip absolutely incredible. From driving me to Haifa (Guy) to planning fantastic nights out (Gal) to regular old girl talk and makeovers (Talya) to opening her home to me on Shabbat and introducing me to her family (Yael), the Israelis made an impact on me that I will never, ever forget. I can’t wait to see them all when I come back in a few months.

8. Our madrichim (counselors) - how can I talk about this trip without mentioning my Chech? I was lucky enough to go on a trip staffed by my dear friend Jessie Sunday, who I met long ago when we both started working at the Fed. Now, two years later, we both no longer work there, but have made a connection and a friendship that I know will last forever. She is truly one of my favorite people, in addition to being one of the only people I know who can match me in energy, volume, and general insanity. She is my beloved Chech and was a fabulous leader for our group. Our group was also lucky enough to be led by a new pal of mine, Mr. Matthew Weiner. I instantly loved Matt upon meeting him - he looks EXACTLY like Jonah Hill, who may or may not be number one on the list of celebrities I am desperately in love with. In addition to being adorable and squeezable, Matt is also hilarious and has the exact same sense of humor as I do. We never stopped laughing together and I can’t wait to hang out with him more in LA, “drinking in bars and making fun of people.” His words, not mine.

7. Speaking Hebrew - newsflash to people who’ve known me my entire life and never knew this - I CAN SPEAK HEBREW! I know, I was shocked too. All jokes aside, I am incredibly proud of myself -I had no idea how much Hebrew I actually knew until this trip. Now I can say that I am almost fluent - I had no problems getting around and talking to people, and made it a point to learn more words every single day. If you need to know how to say napkin or trashcan, I’m your girl! (And a very special shoutout to our cab driver in Tel Aviv, Mr. Aviv Lebanon, to whom I drunkenly listed every single word I knew in Hebrew, and who proposed to me at the conclusion of our ride together. Just because I didn't say yes, doesn't mean I don't love you.)

6. Greene Bean - it was very special for me to be able to share these few weeks with the one and only Jennifer Leigh Greene. I first started talking about doing this years ago -- I thought it would be a great way for us to meet new people in LA, especially considering Greene is still new here, having only moved here a year and a half ago. Part of me still can’t believe we already went and came back! I have always told her how much I love Israel, and I LOVED being able to show her the places I’ve been, the restaurants I love, and how fantastic Israel and Israelis can be. I’m so glad we were able to do this together.

5. Our nights out (AKA Galapalooza) - basically, those freaking Israelis know how to party. Any night that includes three straight hours of dancing (including to some bizarre American songs, including “We Are The Champions” and the theme from Cops) and straight vodka shots is A-OK in my book - and we did it like five times! It was so fun being able to go out in a huge group - it felt like college all over again, plus we were always outfitted in lovely light up bracelets and hair accessories, bar mitzvah style, thanks to our Israeli friend Gal, who never came to a bar without a bag of props and should seriously look into a job as a cruise director. If Israel outlaws smoking in clubs (my clothes REEKED), I’m moving there.

4. Our nights in - yes, our nights out on the town were crazy and fun. But I have always said that it’s not where you are but who you’re with that matters, and I will never forget our quiet(er) nights in, just hanging out in the halls of the hostels or outside on the kibbutz. Playing card games and smoking hookah while people played guitar and sang - I felt like I was at Jewish summer camp. And for someone who never even WENT to Jewish summer camp.... that was very special. :)

3. The food - no Top 10 list of Jordan Silverman’s would be complete without mentioning food. Everything I eat in Israel is DELICIOUS, and this trip was no exception. I tasted the best rugalach in the world (from Marzipan), FINALLY tried Israeli sushi (it was good!), now have a favorite Israeli snack food (chocolate filled Bamba), found a new amazing place in Jerusalem (Foccacia Bar - not kosher but the coconut chicken noodles are out of this world), and ate more schnitzel, schwarma, and falafel than I can even imagine. And don’t get me started on the hummus! (ADDENDUM: how could I forget to talk about JOY!? After almost four years of knowing Erez and hearing the story about Anna and Erez meeting in his family's restaurant, Joy, in Israel, Greene and I finally got to see and try it for ourselves. It was fantastic - the food was amazing and the service was wonderful - PLUS, Big E hooked us up with a delish bottle of wine and some appetizers. TODAH RABAH :) I highly recommend it if you are ever in need of a kosher steakhouse in Jerusalem!)

2. Shachar - our guide, Shachar, may be one of the smartest and most patient people I have ever met. Any question we had, no matter how retarded (and let’s face it, some of us ask realllllly retarded questions), he answered with a smile on his face. He even found it funny when we resorted to playing middle school games like MASH on the bus and informed him he was now married to one of us. And as a bonus, his baby was GORGEOUS and loved me. I miss him already!

So what’s the number one thing I’ll never forget about our trip? :)

1. The camels - We may be the ONLY group in the history of Birthright to

NOT ride the camels. The only way this can possibly be remedied is by all of us going back to Israel, as soon as possible!!!!

All in all, it was a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. I’m so sad to be back, but so happy that all my new friends live just a few minutes away from me. Last night, I hosted our first reunion at my apartment - a Shabbat dinner -- and I am happy to report that everyone was just as fabulous and we had just as much fun here in Brentwood as we did in the holy land!

I leave you with this quote, which perfectly sums up how I feel about Israel:

“My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west.” - Yehuda Halevi

I can’t wait to go back.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Birthright Here I Come!

Shalom y'all! This is going to be my last post for a few weeks... tomorrow morning, I leave for ISRAEL on Birthright!!!

I have wanted to go on Birthright for YEARS, and tomorrow, the adventure across the world finally begins. I can't wait to be back in Israel, finally experiencing my favorite country as a participant! I'm so excited to meet new friends, see old places, eat shnitzel and hummus at every meal, ride a camel, float in the Dead Sea, and of course, take A MILLION PICTURES!

So, shalom and L'hitraot (see you later)! I'll be back in late January. I'll miss you!

First Cocktail Party Ever = SUCCESS!

Remember last post when I made that resolution to start cooking? I’m already on my way!

A few days ago, I co-hosted a White Elephant Gift Exchange/Cocktail party with my good friend Alexandra Beth Cherry. It was Alexandra’s original idea to have a White Elephant party - I suggested we switch it up a bit and ask our guests to bring the strangest/most unusual gifts they personally received during the holiday season to exchange!

Anyways, the party was SO fun! We invited a great mix of people - some of my pals, some of hers, and a bunch of our friends from high school. Everyone came with gifts, some funny, some weird, some really good, and the gift exchange was hilarious - lots of White Elephant stealing, way too many candles (I ended up with a bizarre Christmas-scented candle - perfect for me, Super Jew), and Ms. Nicole Levin was the lucky winner of two framed, autographed headshots of Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw!

Alexandra and I spent a loooooong time getting ready and planning a menu that everyone would like. In the end, everyone was so impressed, and the table looked GORGEOUS!

How pretty does that look? Here’s what we served:

  • pigs-in-blankets with spicy dijon mustard
  • vegetarian dumplings with soy sauce
  • french bread with goat cheese and olive tapenade
  • homemade bruschetta
  • Alexandra’s famous guacamole
  • hummus and pita chips
  • mozzarella & tomato skewers
  • mini red velvet cupcakes
  • spinach & cheese and mushroom empanadas
  • chocolate bread pudding (a Silverman family recipe!)

Some fun party pics:

I can’t wait to throw my next bash :) My friends even said “You need to make this a yearly event!” It was so fun and easy working with Alexandra - we are already planning our next party together. We’re thinking this summer - a BBQ theme!

It was a lot of work, but I LOVED being a hostess! And for my first party, I think it was fabulous!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Here We Go, 2010!

Happy New Year y'all! Now that I've finally recovered from NYE and dragged myself out of bed, I can get to updating you :)

My New Years Eve was interesting. I went to a warehouse party at this empty soundstage in Santa Monica - $50 cover got you in with full open bar, rock band, DJs, beer pong, and a taco bar. The blend of champagne, vodka cranberries, and chicken tacos in my stomach proved to be a terrible, terrible combination, causing me to spend the first few hours of 2010 hunched over Anna’s toilet. NOT FUN.

Oh well. At least we looked cute before we all started puking.

Anyways, I think it’s time for me to actual commit to paper (or the web, in this case) the New Year’s Resolutions I’ve been talking about. That way, when I fall off the bandwagon (inevitable), I’ll feel as though I need to confess via posting, and y’all can yell at me in the comments. (Or in real life. Whatever you prefer.) So, here we go:

1. Learn to cook -- I love food as much as I love Bloomingdales, Facebook, and Jews. One of my biggest passions is trying and tasting new foods, and I can give you a spot-on restaurant recommendation in Los Angeles, Vegas, Tucson, or New York. So why don’t I know how to cook? Good question. Right now, my entire kitchen repertoire consists of one dish: whole wheat pasta with tomatoes, goat cheese, and chicken sausage. Otherwise, if I’m eating at home, it’s a Lean Cuisine or imitation creamed spinach. In 2010 I resolve to finally learn how to cook. Then I can throw dinner parties!

2. Get my ass to the gym -- ironic, considering this comes right after an entire paragraph about food. But really, that’s kind of fitting -- look, I’m NEVER gonna want to not eat the things I want to eat. However, if I want to be a hot biatch who looks fab in all her gorgeous clothes, something’s gotta give. In 2010, I will work out at least three times a week. My plan is genius: wait until something fabulously trashy is on TV, then head to the gym and watch it while I run my tush off on the eliptical. Genius.

3. Be nice to all living creatures -- sometimes the Queen can be mean. I need to be nicer, both to the people I love as well as strangers. This may include also learning how to be more patient and less sarcastic. Also, I will need to learn how to get along with The Amazing Sugar Dog.

4. Write my book -- there’s one inside me. I just have to stop procrastinating/shopping/eating/playing/singing/dancing/traveling long enough to sit down and write it. Maybe 2010 is the year I do it?

And of course, it goes without saying that I promise in 2010 to blog as much as possible. I really love how warm and fuzzy I feel when I run into someone and they tell me how much they enjoy reading my blog and hearing about all my funny/retarded stories.

What are your resolutions? I hope they include a pledge to come back daily and read my new posts :)

Here’s hoping 2010 will be amazing for everyone! (And not have as many dead celebrities as 2009 had.)

P.S. I did this whole post from my brand new gorgeous Macbook Pro and did not have any nervous breakdowns in the process! (That's a lie. I had one but Greene helped me out so I didn't have another :) yay!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, From My Bed

I was really planning on blogging today. I owe yall a huge post on the DFV plus a post on my New Years Resolutions.

Unfortunately, I am confined to my bed after a New Years celebration that included way too much of the following: wine, champagne, vodka, and tacos.

If you'll excuse me, I will be in bed watching The Soup reruns until I feel like a human being again. Thanks for your patience!