Hey Look – I’m a student

For my time in LA with the HUC program, we spent some class time at the hotel and the rest of the time at the HUC-JIR Los Angeles Campus. (post about walking around Beverly Hills here)

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The campus is directly across the street from USC, which provides a nice opportunity for HUC students to benefit from the development and resources built up around the USC campus. For example, when we had a lunch break during our first day of classes at the HUC campus, we walked across the street to USC and then found our way to the student center.

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There were several dining options within the student center, including Coffee Bean, Panda Express, California Pizza Kitchen, and a burger joint. We all grabbed food from different places and then ate together outside:

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Not having gone to a large university, it was a little overwhelming to be on the USC campus. There are so many people! And children take tours there!!

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tour group of kids looking at the Trojan statue

Besides getting a glimpse of a two new (to me) campuses, a highlight of my time in LA was a trip to the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier. After the last day of classes wrapped up in the evening, a bus brought us to the promenade where we had a chance to walk around and stroll down to the ocean and pier:

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I walked with a friend, and we arrived to the ocean walk just as the sun was setting:

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The Santa Monica Pier juts out from the ocean walk pathway and has a lot of energy – almost a fair-like feel (note the ferris wheel):

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The pier is lined with tourist shops and restaurants, and the view looking out towards the beach and ocean is amazing:

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Since it was the last night for the cohort to be together, we had a group dinner at a restaurant called Ristorante al Mare. This was an Italian restaurant right on the pier, and it was a great spot for a big group. They had a fairly extensive wine menu as well as a nice assortment of salads, seafood, pasta dishes, and meat entrees.

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I got a dish called Il Petto di Pollo Funghi e Patate – which was basically just a chicken breast topped with a mushroom sauce and served with potatoes.

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The next morning, it was time to conclude the program and head home. The official graduation ceremony was very nice (although sad to say goodbye to the cohort!), and I now have a very crisp certificate which I hope to frame some time in the future! After the graduation ceremony, we ate lunch together before adjournment. And, since celebration so often involves cake…

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(CAEA stands for Certificate [in Jewish Education] for Adolescents and Emerging Adults). Wahoo!

Overall, this was a great trip – leaving feeling proud to have this certificate and also lucky to have been able to enjoy a few great days in Los Angeles!

 

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Three days in Paradise

After the horrible winter and ‘spring‘ in Minnesota, the weather is finally turning and warming up. Nonetheless, it was nice to escape for three days to the sunny paradise of Los Angeles. Don’t get me wrong, I know LA can get hot as blazes and I don’t think I’d classify it as an Eden during the peak of summer, but for this last few days it has been absolutely perfect weather.

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I was in LA for the completion of the Certificate in Jewish Education for Adolescents and Emerging Adults program I’ve been part of throughout the last year through Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. The program is comprised of a cohort of 16, and we come from all over the country (and one from Canada!). We all stayed at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills.

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The hotel was colorful, boutique-y, clean, and comfortable – plus there was a very swanky pool area!

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The room itself was very nice, with an extremely comfortable bed, a mini-fridge, and a shower with AMAZING water pressure:

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When I got to the hotel, I had a few hours until the first session of the program, so I set off to explore the area with another member of my cohort. The hotel is in the heart of the Beverly Hills area, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and plastic surgeons (not kidding).

We meandered from the hotel to Beverly Drive, where we stopped at Urth Caffe – a popular, natural/organic, and local cafe chain (suggested to me by a friend – thanks, Jinai!).

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Urth has an impressive selection of coffees, teas, smoothies, and specialty beverages (including tea espresso drinks!). The dessert display is certainly a sight to behold:

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I ordered a blended green tea smoothie, and my friend got a cappuccino (complete with some amazing foam art!) and a kale salad:

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The salad looked so good, I went back to Urth for dinner the next day to order it myself!

After being rejuvenated by food, we explored the area around Beverly Drive for the rest of the afternoon.

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I saw pretty much every store I’ve ever heard of plus a lot more that I never even knew existed. Mostly we window shopped, but if somewhere looked particularly appealing we would go inside to poke around. Attracted by its massiveness, we went into the mega-sized Anthropologie:

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I know that lots of people love this store, but I’ve never really shopped here. I saw a lot of dresses that I thought were cute:

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But then I looked at the price tag…

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…and now I know why I don’t shop here! I’m perfectly content with my dress from Gap Outlet, thank you very much.

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There is one thing, however, that might be a bargain at Anthropologie.

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Who knew they sold wedding dresses?! Maybe it is only at this or other very large locations, but they had a pretty broad selection:

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After Anthropologie, we wandered for a while and then noticed a place called Go Greek. The shop caught our attention because a sign in the window advertised the fact that they had yogurt flown in fresh daily from Greece. Wha?!?!

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This place was very neat. In addition to the (now) ubiquitous self-serve frozen yogurt bar…

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…You could also get fresh greek yogurt with the toppings of your choice:

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We didn’t order anything since we had just eaten. I was hoping to be able to go back later in the trip but ended up not having the opportunity. Oh well – maybe next time!

The last store that captured our interest was Merimekko. Merimekko is a Finnish design company with brightly colored and bold patterns. They make clothes, home products, and a variety of trinkets. I had heard of Merimekko previously because Noah’s parents have a set of placemats from them, but I was impressed to see the wide variety of products they sell: pillows, dresses, baby clothes…you name it!

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Eventually, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for the start of the program so the day of exploration had to come to an end. This was a great day though of soaking up the sunshine and posing as someone who knows a lot about shopping and fashion. 😉