By Ayla Landi Fontana
My name is Ayla, and I am excited to be writing the first blog post of the year. I am one of the participants of the third year of Tivnu (aka Threevnu). We lovingly call ourselves Tivnoodles and our Madricha (advisor) calls us her Noodles. With all of the Tivnoodles running around the house, it’s always pretty energetic here. We’ve been getting acquainted with the organizations where we’ll intern, learning about affordable housing, exploring our neighborhood, and getting to know each other.
I didn’t grow up in a practicing Jewish household and recently decided to return to my Jewish heritage independently. Last year, while attending synagogue, I met Tivnoodles who were shul-hopping. As I decided what to do this year, I was excited at the prospect of joining the Tivnu community. While I live at the bayit (house), cook and eat with everyone, and join in the educational programming, I will be going to Portland State University instead of having an internship, like the other participants of the program. Tivnu worked hard to make it possible for me to participate in this special way.
Before start at our internships or school, the Threevnu group went camping to spend some time away from Portland to get to know each other. The four-day camping trip allowed for all Tivnoodles to relax and grow accustomed to each other. The trip began with blasting Indie music. We told jokes and laughed together, and when we weren’t doing that, we cuddled during the car rides.
When we arrived at Camp Sherman, we didn’t have a lot of time to set up camp before the sun set. My flashlights all had dead batteries so I couldn’t find most of the things I brought for the trip. I ended up sharing a tent with my roommate (at the bayit), Sophie, while several Tivnoodles slept outside under the stars or slept in the other tent. The stars were bright above us all, and the chilled air felt good.
The sun rose on Tuesday and we all got up to help cook breakfast. We all pitched in for each meal, either by cooking or cleaning up afterwards. On our first day, we packed lunches for our hike along the Metolius River. It was a light hike that lasted for a few hours, allowing us to take in all of the wilderness that surrounded us. By nightfall, we were all much closer. We ate dinner by the fire, telling stories about ourselves. At the end of the night, Yoni told scary stories and Jamie told her hilarious ones. It was a great way to end our first full day.
On Wednesday, we conquered Black Butte. Set on beating Yoni to the top, David and I ran for a good portion of the hike. We made it to the top, dehydrated but victorious. After lunch, Steve taught us how to read a topographical map, but the lesson was interrupted in order to feed our new friend, Rico, the adorable chipmunk. The hike down was a relief from the strenuous trek up. The day ended with more laughs and word games. Steve wrapped up the end of dinner by reading Encyclopedia Brown to us. Most of us ended up hanging out in the same tent, so that we could keep warm while we stayed up talking late into the night.
We headed back to Portland on Thursday. On our way we stopped at Big Lake for lunch. After a quick swim in the near-freezing water, Adinah led us in a reflection on our camping experience and what we wanted to bring back with us to Portland. I pondered how the trip taught me about myself and how I would like to grow throughout my nine months in Tivnu. I was a little sad to leave the beautiful Metolius, but set on getting back to the bayit to start the year with my new friends.