The 4-hour orientation was about what I expected. I'm much more confident about meeting a group of new people than I was as a college freshman (though, as in all social situations, then and now, new or not, I still want to spend half my time staring at a wall by myself, which sadly doesn't make the best impression). I'm a pro at forced-getting-to-know-someone icebreakers. The straightforward logistical parts of the orientation were also fine, and served to make tomorrow's real first day a lot less unknown and scary.
The little bit of chevruta study we did today was good too. I tend to hate jumping into chevruta at first, but that always goes away quickly, and falling into familiar patterns is comforting (even if it means my weak Hebrew/Aramaic skills are at their most obvious).
What's bugging me is that the two parts of the day that I disliked the most were the things that I thought I would enjoy the most as regular yeshiva features: shiur (lecture) and mincha (or really davening (prayer) in general). Maybe the problem with the shiur was partly my lack of sleep (why was THIS the first Saturday night in 3.5 years of living across the street from a bar that drunk people woke me??), or the fact that it was given by one of the more philosophically-minded rabbis, but I just couldn't follow. And it was more lack of interest than lack of smarts or understanding. Troubling. Maybe I'm just not in a place where I can really think about my own personal faith and theology? And if I can't, why am I doing this program?
The last thing we did today was mincha. Yes, I was in a hurry to leave quickly and would've hated any last activity as a result, but it still bugged me. It was both too fast and too slow: too fast to make it interesting, and too slow to really make it as fast as I expected yeshiva davening to be. I resented it, which does not bode well for doing this 3 times a day all summer. Or, y'know, for prayer remaining my primary connection point to the Jewish world, my most important community.
So we'll see. Tomorrow is 13.5 hours...
Oh, one other thing bugged me, equal parts programmatic and logistical. We have "toranut", an area of responsibility that each of us, in teams, is responsible for ensuring gets done. We can recruit help, but in the end it's up to us. It was completely assigned, with no say on our parts and no mention of trading being allowed. I'm on room setup, which is a good job for me, but I wanted to be a gabbai (services organizer), and the assigned gabbais may not want to be; who knows? And if I'd gotten lunch duty, I'd want to quit and go home. Really, we're all adults; can't we just sign up or whatever?
And I'm still a bit weirded out about possibly being the oldest one there. (Still not sure if I am.) I knew this would happen and I know it'll pass and that age isn't a big deal, but I'm not there quite yet.
Anyway. I'm sitting on a train now, after dropping my car off in NJ for the summer. This is my only free time of the day (I may want to go to sleep as soon as I'm back in my sublet), so I'm typing this update on my phone keyboard because I really do want to journal as much of my experience in this program as I can. So I'm going to sign off now, while my battery and thumbs still work. Talk to you tomorrow, perhaps!
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