[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 4 of 11] A Shabbat in Israel


The original journal entry spanned the welcoming of the sabbath and continued through the remainder of Friday and Saturday, July 22-23, 2011. Find it by clicking this sentence.

My first שבת (Shabbat) in Israel was wonderful, and was really only my second time truly getting to enjoy a Shabbat experience. (The first time was earlier in 2011, when KOACH Kallah was at Northwestern.)

Prior to the trip, שבת usually meant going to services on Friday evening and/or Saturday morning. However, in my undergraduate years, I did not take sabbatical time from homework. Therefore, I used to be a particularly nasty hypocrite by going to services but then doing homework at other points of the day!

Though I had enjoyed שבתות prior to my first Israel experience, the fact that I was much more intimately involved with the spirit of the day, and with potentially like-minded people (though I later found out that I was one of the most ritually-observant of the Americans, which wasn’t saying very much…) made it a special experience. Moreover, it inspired me to make future שבתות, even in the States, like this one.

It was really special for me to go to services the next morning, even though there was no מיניין (quorum of 10 Jewish adults, and male since the synagogue on קיבוץ פרוד (Kibbutz Parod) was Orthodox) there [as I said in my journal, I was the only trip-goer who was up at that hour! Ha!]. Getting to take in services with Israelis, though maybe not an initial goal of mine, became a highlight of the trip. I would love to go back at some point, and maybe find a מסורתי (Masorti: Conservative) synagogue to compare and contrast to, say, Beth Jacob, Tifereth Israel, or Beth Hillel-Congregation B’nai Emunah.

Realizing that enjoying שבת involves negative commandments (e.g. don’t use electricity or fire, don’t do “work,” don’t write, etc.), there are also plenty of things that one SHOULD do, such as be joyous, study תורה (Torah), and relax. This relaxation involved icebreaker games on Friday evening, conversations throughout the 25 hours, swimming in the pool on the Saturday afternoon, and playing card games. And getting sunburnt… just joshing about that being relaxing on the latter!

Since Birthright ended, I have refrained from academic or professional work on שבת, but still do other types of מלכות (forbidden work on Shabbat) like driving, travelling by bike, writing, or using a computer for entertainment purposes. However, when I am with Jewish friends, it is much easier to avoid some of these acts. The שבתות that I have spent with my (non-Birthright) friend Sarah’s family this year have been fully relaxing, with reading, walks, Bananagrams, and conversations. No need for computers or TV when this occurs!  Additionally, this was true at Northwestern Hillel in the subsequent years when I would go to Saturday services. (Even though I was usually not good at Settlers of Catan!)

Therefore, the consideration of שבת was one major impact of Birthright on me.

And tomorrow, I will be reflecting on the trip to צפת (Safed) and/or the Independence Museum in תל אביב (Tel Aviv).


Check out the remaining entries in this sequence!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective] The Travel To Israel

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 2 of 11] Achim Simcha

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 3 of 11] Take a hike!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 4 of 11] A Shabbat in Israel (You are here!)

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 5 of 11] Awwwwwesome

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 6 of 11] Primary Sources

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 7 of 11] Sinat Chinam (and Ahavat Chinam)

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 8 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 9 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 10 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 11 of 11] Coming soon!


Kenosha: 9 days.

Orientation: 23 days.

Day 1: 46 days.

blog signature


[M.M.X.I.V. 84] Curfew violation!

OK.  I am a 26-year old, and yet I have a self-imposed curfew.  And I inadvertently-advertently (!?) violated it last night!

I may have previously described this in my blog, but I am usually not a night person.  Therefore, the self-imposed curfew is mostly an order of protection against myself, so that I can sleep at my residence or designated lodging when I get tired rather than risk having to fall asleep elsewhere, such as a train or bus.

If I KNOW that I will be out and up late (e.g. out and not returning home until 00:30 or later, such as for a bar night with colleagues), I take a power nap in the middle of the day.  But yesterday, I had just gotten back to Evanston from Chicago and my Hebrew class.  I went to a friend’s pad for board game club (which would normally be at the Norris Student Center and end by 23:59).  However, because this is spring break, the friend’s pad was the venue, and there was no time limit, other than my own endurance.

So, I played a yet-unreleased game (it will officially debut at GenCon this year), and had a good time.  However, I did incredibly poorly, not because I was tired, but because I drew poorly after a good first turn, and my strategies got constantly disrupted.  (I suppose that tiredness may have played a factor as well, but when a deck draws poorly, that’s also something that prevents you from doing much).

However, the game dragged on.  I thought that it would take about an hour (the game started at about 23:00), but it took more than two hours!  For those of you keeping track at home, it was 01:15 when the game finished.  Yet, I still had enough energy to return home, and encountered no crazy characters on the way home.  Evanston mostly DOES sleep at night!

What amazed me most was the fact that I didn’t crash (i.e. run out of energy).  Mind over matter is definitely true–I feel that a strong mind can overcome tiredness for a while.  Is that how Dance Marathon participants manage to get through 30+ consecutive hours of dancing and being awake?

Yet, I was only able to sleep in until 08:00 this morning.  I may have to take a power nap in the middle of the day today!  The good thing: I can therefore make this a “justified” day to play hooky from the office 🙂

EDIT/ADDENDUM: As it turns out, the number of this post is also another thing about being up in the wee hours of the morning.  When I was younger, some of our Omaha or Fort Dodge return trips would end up returning to Lincoln past midnight.  As I was able to sleep in the van, it was not uncommon for me to “naturally” (?) wake up at some point that we were on 84th Street in Lincoln.

Does this addendum mean that I was meant to hyperextend my curfew last night…?


Today is the eighty-fourth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes twelve weeks.

The week that was: Passover 2012

ALERT: this post uses Hebrew words, which are in Hebrew.  The first appearance of the Hebrew word will be followed by the transliteration (and translation if necessary).  This will also be true in future posts.  (Honestly, this may make me go back to older posts and edit them accordingly.  Or should I?)

So I finally decide to do a blog post of “the week that was,” just as I had originally planned  from my “Response: One notrump” post.  But, of course, life sometimes takes over, and the blog is merely a hobby.  In fact, my regular journal takes a higher priority, but I might as well share some of the snippets from it from last week.

Just as I have seen much more meaning in the other Jewish holidays that have happened since I returned from Israel, I really enjoyed Passover this year, not only for the holiday part, but for the culinary experience I got to have.  (Hey, perhaps I should augment some photos to this post.  I’ll do that!)  What I find really neat about the סדר (seder) is that even though there is essentially the same story in all הגדות (haggadot), each הגדה (Haggadah) has a slightly different way of presenting the story, and has different commentary.  And each time you read through and experience the service, the experience from the previous year can color your interpretation of the story, or allow you to add details from your own life.

For example, the last few years I have heard different interpretations on the Four Children.  One suggests that the Wise Child, despite asking about all the statutes, laws, etc. is somewhat missing the point by basically looking at the mechanical and technical aspects.  This seems a lot like my way of thinking in certain situations, as I tend to get bogged down in details… if you will, seeing the trees for the forest.  This year, the interpretation that sort of struck me was the idea of the Four Children representing stages of development… or at least the labels thereof.  That is, “One who hath no capacity to inquire” is the baby who can’t speak yet, “simple” is the one in early elementary school who has curiosity but not necessarily analytical skills, “wicked” is the rebellious teen, and “wise” is the older teen who has had some experience.

Eating at the סדרים (sedarimseder in plural) is also great because I get to be social and converse while eating.  At the first seder, I had many familiar faces surrounding me, including Brandy, Sarah, Leah, Zach, and Naomi (forgive me if I have misspelled some of their names).  The conversations are always random, but nonetheless interesting and they keep me engaged.  We are all characters in our own right, and that makes it fun!

Of course, this meant that I also attended services on both Saturdays.  Holiday services are enjoyable since they include הלל (Hallel), a collection of psalms for all Festivals that are mostly sung.  I have also brought this fascination up in my posts from the High Holidays earlier from the year.  Additionally, special things for Passover were done: during the מוסף (Musaf) service, טל (Tal–a prayer for dew) was on the first day, and שיר השירים (Shir HaShirim–Song of Songs) was done on the eighth day.  Special additions to services are meaningful, although even the ordinary is extraordinary on the Festivals.

I have other thoughts from Passover, but since I said this was a “the-week-that-was” post, I should probably move on.  I may touch back on these and other thoughts in a different post.

The last two years that I shopped for Passover, I got pancake mix at the store, but this year, since I was somewhat last-minute in shopping, it had sold out at Jewel-Osco when I went on the Wednesday prior to Passover.  “Out of time–try and do better next time!”  Sunday was a great culinary day for me, as I cooked chicken pot pie using מצה (matzah), as well as making מצה ball soup.  Besides that, it was also a PERFECT day to go watch a baseball game, but unfortunately the ‘Cats got doubled up by the Boilermakers to get swept away in the series.  When I got home, I finished the pie, but had insufficient time to make the soup.  Farfel muffins were also on the menu, and they turned out well too, along with the pie.  I wanted to have it with the moscato in the picture, but opened the top to find that I needed a corkscrew, which I neither own nor know how to use!  On Sunday, I also played bridge like always, and the cards were generally on the opponents’ side–I was a defender in 14 of the 21 hands I played!

Also during the weekend, I was this week’s “quiz master” in MATH 234, which means I had to write the quizzes, write homework solutions, and grade the quizzes.  It took me a long time to type up the solutions to the homework, and only on Monday did I find out that much of it was unnecessary for me to do.  U G H.  Of course, if you never waste time finding out that a project is unnecessary, then you are perfect, and nobody is!  The other highlight of Monday was board game club, which Alex from bridge club recommended to me.  I played the game “Bang!” which is similar to “Mafia,” and then played a few games of “Dominion.”  The latter has quickly become one of my favorite games, since there are so many different strategies.  Although I still haven’t won or been in a place other than last, I don’t care, as I improve each time I play.

Tuesday came, and the heavy TA work continued, because Lane was out of town so that I had to cover his 12:00 recitation in addition to my 11:00 recitation.  They both went pretty smoothly as far as I could tell, although the amount of time that the professor for the 11:00 recitation gave I felt was insufficient for the students, although I still blindly obeyed his instructions.  Granted, while grading the quizzes, in retrospect it was obvious that I was too harsh for everyone.  I think I was fairly consistent, but next time I grade quizzes, I need to lay off the hammer.

Ultimate season is on too!  On the Runge Kutters team, we played against Frizz in My Pants, and cruised to a 9-3 victory.  It was a lot of running, which I am not used to, but I still had fun being a disruptive force on defense.  I also caught my first career pass, which felt pretty good.  Next stop will be a catch for a score!  The culinary adventure continued after the game, with מצה ball soup and honey-orange salmon (pictured below).  The work of the next few days was pretty much the same–back to research with verifying some results from a paper from Block & Keer.  Sometimes, as I said earlier in this post, I think I get bogged down by the need to verify the details, but it seems that papers are often awash in typographical errors, and some of these are quite pernicious.  The food adventures continued with the מצה פיצה (Matza-pizza) night at Hillel, and it was fun to chat, although it was packed in really tightly.  I had only the dessert pizza, and decided to decorate it quite conspicuously, as shown below (that’s my name in Hebrew!)Thursday was a long day, as I had research in the morning, office hours in the afternoon, class in the mid-afternoon, went to Turin in the late afternoon (yes, indeed.  Got a Trek bike on sale and am looking forward to riding again), and then had some leftovers before going to the A-Cappella for Autism concert.  It was good, although it didn’t have quite the same vibe as last year–there were no autism stories, and there were fewer groups than last year.  Still it was enjoyable, although only two songs were familiar to me (“For The Longest Time” and “Human Nature.”)

Friday was great, as in the morning, I had lox-and-מצה, where the former was homemade!  I got my football tickets paid for, went to the police department to get the new Trek registered, and then came home for lunch.  Surprisingly, I got some research work actually done from home!  At student tea, we watched “Donald Duck in Math-Magic Land”, which gave nostalgia for when I saw it in eighth grade.  Obviously, I saw it through a much different eye this time, but of course the cartoony aspects of it are still enjoyable.

At services, the דבר תורה (D’var Torah–sermon) was interesting in that it described counting up (as we do for the עמר (Omer–the 50-day period between Passover and שבועת (Shavuot)) as showing both where we came from and where we are going.  It’s a journey!  Afterward, dinner was great, and I found that it was engaging to get into various conversations about anything, from stories of home to geography, from translation and grammar to alacrity.  Anything can be a conversation topic, and this sort of connection is one thing that שבת (Shabbat) means to me.  I was so engaged that I was up and chatting until finally realizing I needed to get to sleep around 00:30 on Saturday morning!

After services on Saturday, I headed off to the diamond to see the ‘Cats in action against the Gophers.  We had gotten clobbered in Game 1, but softball is funny like that in that it is easy to have two games of totally different complexion.  And that is precisely what happened–in Game 2 Northwestern jumped on Minnesota early with a three-run shot courtesy of Marissa Bast, and then a four-run sixth contributed to a run-rule victory!  I wanted to tailgate afterward, but because Passover hadn’t yet ended, and also because the skies looked threatening, I decided to just go home.  Some chronicling was done then, and that brought me to the end of the holiday!