[Tour of Israel Part 5] A Relaxing Shabbat

Saturday, June 10 / יום שבת. 16 סיון

I arose at 07:30. Re-donning last night’s clothes, I went down for breakfast, in the manner of taking the שבת elevator (which has the buttons disabled and stops at every floor, moving relatively slowly). Breakfast was basically identical to what I had on previous days, but there was obviously no omelet/pancake station available. All of the shul-goers got up and met us, in anticipation for leaving.

The Masorti-goers walked at 08:30, and I picked up the pace for myself wanting to get as much of it as possible. When I got there, they were on תפילה למשה איש האלוהים (Psalm 90), and the פסוקי דזמרה (P’sukei D’zimrah) part of the service was fairly quiet. When we got to שחרית (Shacharit/the Public Morning Service), the רבי (rabbi) stepped aside, and then אהובה החזנית (Ahuva the Cantor) stepped in. She sang some hauntingly beautifully. The Mediterranean voice put new breath into classical tunes from this service, and she also used gestures to get us singing too (espeically on שים שלום [Sim Shalom]). Heck, even the non-musical parts sounded musical by the way she spoke!

Prior to the תורה Service, the rabbi gave a short דבר תורה בעברית (Hebrew sermon). I caught bits and pieces of it, regarding numbers, but couldn’t really discern what was going on. We did a full Reading of פרשת בהעלותך (Parashat Beha’alot’cha/Num. 8:1-12:16), and as I wrote this, it reminded me of something else from as last night: there is a difference between sparking a flame and allowing the flame to rise on its own. Today’s English sermon was about the Triumvirate of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron, who are only mentioned as a trio twice in the תנ”ך (Tanach / the Jewish Canon).

The מוסף (Musaf) Service surprisingly employed the hekhe-kedushah format, so it went quickly — the service was over by 11:11. Afterward, I chatted with congregants — some who were American visitors, some who were עולים (immigrants), and a few native Israelis. The weather in the courtyard was nice, and one interesting tidbit that I found: one of the תורה scrolls that this congregation uses may have come from Fort Dodge! Their scrolls were donated from shuttered congregations in the Midwest, including Iowa.

I walked back very leisurely (as suggested by the Corens yesterday) and enjoyed myself. It was only noon at this time, so I had an hour to fritter away before lunch would be served. I chatted with Seth regarding שבת, and how it is the day in Israel, compared to how some Americans have to “fit it in.” Family policies and the idea of being a “fun dad” also entered into the conversation.

At 13:00, we descended the יציאה חירום (emergency exit) (i.e. the stairwell that was unalarmed) and got to the dining room on Lobby Level. It was a grand buffet! I had brisket, chicken, Israeli salad, חלה, and lots of dessert. Various people from our bus came in at different times, but I stayed the full two hours that the lunch was being served — I ate very slowly! Naturally, the conversations blurred together for me, and since I did not write anything down until the evening, I will have to lazily “escape” this time from my account.

We climbed stairs after lunch, and donned swimwear. One flight of stairs then led to the sun deck, and then the pool. As I swam (or tried to tread water), I noticed an uncomfortable right shoulder. Additionally, I realized that I can’t float in the water or have forgotten how, and the advice from Cynthia and Jamie did not help. Ari was also having fun challenging me with pool tricks, which is different from the competitive swimming that she is doing back in America.

Though I am not much of a sunbather, I did sit out for a while after alighting the pool. Then, I returned to get dressed in my clothes from the morning, and randomly chatted with Seth until 17:45. The next step was the lobby for a walk, and we had several followers in our group that Gili would lead.

Leaving the hotel and taking a left, after a few blocks we entered the neighborhood ימין משה (Yamin Moshe / Moses’ Right Hand), and admired the windmill there. This was the first neighborhood to be build in Jerusalem outside of the Old City, and at that point, משה מונטיפיורי (Moses Montefiore), a banker, had to PAY people to leave the Old City and develop this neighborhood. It wasn’t technically considered a neighborhood at the time, but come on — close enough! As we continued, we saw houses which affluent people have bought, but rarely live in, acccording to Gili. My question: “What’s the point of that?”

Continuing, the stone walkway became a grass park. To the left included ruins, and actually included a tomb built by King Herod. At the point that King Herod built it, it was outside of the city. (Jewish law requires that Jewish graveyards are built outside of cities. Of course, city expansion often makes these yards later enter the city.) A little father ahead, cross sections of cubes were shown, based on where the cutting plane went. One of the non-intuitive slices was a hexagon that resembled a מגן דוד (Star of David).

Continuing, we saw the Center for North African Jewry, and a water fountain that was not on. This square was the second new Jerusalem neighborhood. We also debated about the botany of bananas, and learnt that when you eat a banana, the blessing is באהאמ”ה בורא פרי האדמה (Baruch atah HASHEM, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth) instead of באהאמ”ה בורא פרי האץ (B.a.H.r.o.t.u. who creates the fruit of the tree). Then, outside of the alley and along a road, we passed an American consulate, before entering ANOTHER alley and snaking back to the hotel. We saw UN vehicles, pretty stone walls, and some apartments on our way back. The whole walk took about 2 hours, but the weather was nice and cool!

In the hotel lobby, we sang some ניגונים (such as Bina’s), songs and rounds (like לא ישא גוי אל  גוי חרב[Nation Shall Not Lift Up Sword Against Nation]), and Gili also talked about הבדלה (Havdalah) before we performed the ceremony at 20:27. It wasn’t quite as moving to me as, say, תגלית (Birthright) or כוח קלה (KOACH Kallah in 2011), but nevertheless, it’s time to say שבוע טוב (A Good Week) and to get on the bus!

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We drove to the Old City and entered the Jaffa Gate, but not before seeing a computer-restart screen projected onto the walls, and then a program’s starting screen. (I was too slow to get a picture of the former). After entering the Jaffa Gate, it was not far to go before we got to David’s Tower. However, Gili explained the misnomers: Herod built the area; a tall tower that some people call David’s Tower is really a minaret, and is not part of the tower, and there is more.

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The light and sound show that we saw depicted Biblical and historical scenes on the walls of this citadel. It looked at all three major Monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and some important events in their histories. However, it was definitely Judeo-centric.

After the Loo-sers (me included) took care of business, the bus had a hotel stop, and then a Ben Yehuda Street stop. The Hamicksburgs and Follicks and Seth joined me. The street was bustling tonight, including some תגלית groups (more like factions thereof), Israeli youth, and families. No concerts were taking place, but there were several street performers (buskers). Actually, a few young women that I met in the Chicago airport happened to encounter and recognize me — evidently people don’t forget me even after a brief encounter!

Off the main drag, I found Sushizza, which was across from Big Apple Pizza. The party found a table outside Big Apple to eat at (because the weather was too nice to eat inside!) My dinner choice was sushi with sweet potato and salmon, and the Hamicksburgs also got sushi. Pizza was shared among the whole party, but I declined that invitation. We chatted and ate, and despite it getting very late, I was sufferable (i.e. the opposite of insufferable). I even had ice cream from קצפת — caramel toffee hit the spot! We walked back and shot the breeze with me leading in my inimitable way. The night ended around midnight for me.

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>> TO BE CONTINUED

===========================================

(Dirty?) Thirty: 8 days

Nebraska Regional: 42 days

Semester Kickoff: 73 days

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