Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shabbat in Modi'in

It sounded as if King George Street was about to get blown up.  I wake up to the sounds of multiple sirens outside my window, and a policewoman commanding people to stand still on an intercom.  I look out my window and can’t quite string together what is happening outside – I see a man getting in and out a police car (without handcuffs) and six military jeeps pass by.  On the sidewalks are protestors of Israel’s “oppression of Gaza,” whatever that means.  I later found out that the Gilad Shalit video was being brought to the office of the Prime Minister, which is a short walk from Beit Nativ.

At around 2:00, David and I, as well as a few girls also headed to Modi’in, walked to the Tachana Merkazit (central bus station) to catch a sherut to Modi’in.  It was a shorter ride than I anticipated. David and I got off at our stop, and after a couple of phone calls, studies of the map that our Talmud teacher Josh drew for us, we found our destination. We got to the Kulp’s just over an hour before the start of Hag, and after an afternoon of lots of walking under the blazing sun, a pre-yuntif shower felt magnificent. The Kulps also had a girl, Hadas, who’s joining the army soon, who they know from Ramah Palmer.

The beit kenesset in which we prayed on Shabbat was a beit kenesset that both Josh and Yossi (Garr) played a role in founding. It is in a couple of classrooms in a local school, fairly small – maybe 30-50 men; I couldn’t see how many women there were. While it is defined as an Orthodox beit kenesset, it, like a few liberal Modern Orthodox batei kenesset in Israel, includes women in many parts of the service in which fulfilling the obligation to pray is not an issue (i.e. P’sukei D’zimra, Kabbalat Shabbat, Torah service and all parts associated with it). We started with mincha, and then since hag coincided with Shabbat, we did Kabbalat Shabbat.  I was intrigued when they started singing Yedid Nefesh; in American synagogues, when yuntif and Shabbat are together, we only say Mizmor Shir l’yom ha-Shabbat and Hashem Malach. It then continued to include Mizmor L’David and the first two and last two stanzas of L’cha Dodi. This is the custom of Nusach Sefard.

I felt extremely enlightened after I learned the roots of Nusach Sefard. Both Yossi and Josh explained to David and me that most batei k’nesset in Israel use Nusach Sefard. Nusach Sefard obviously means “Sefardic nusach,” right? No. In fact, Nusach Ashkenaz was mostly used in Germany, whereas Nusach Sefard was the normative nusach in Poland and Russia. It is fair to assess Nusach Ashkenaz became a norm in America for Ashkenazi Jews given the strong German presence in the early days of the American Jewish community. Very interesting…

Friday night was a very comfortable night for eating in the sukkah. The Kulps had just gotten new sukkah lights in many bright colors; it was beautiful. As we had discussed during Yom Iyyun for Sukkot, we recounted the Clouds of Glory that sheltered the Israelites in the Exodus, and we invited the ushpizin. Over soup we discussed a lot of sports – mostly football and baseball. Josh’s oldest son is a big sports follower. The kids stayed in mostly for the soup, and then it was just the 5 adults over 18 for the rest of the meal. I really enjoy eating meals in the sukkah on Sukkot (and I’m even blogging this from a Sukkah at Beit Nativ), so it was a nice evening. I was very tired by the end, and we went to bed soon after.

One thing worth noting about Shabbat morning was that we read all of Kohelet before the Torah service.  I had never seen a megillah read on the regalim, with the exception of Shavuot at camp, when we read Ruth, and one time when I was at Ramah for Shabbat Chol Ha-Moed Pesach they read parts of Shir Ha-Shirim.  I tried to follow along as much as I could, but it was hard to stay focused for all 12 chapters of a Debbie-Downer book like Kohelet.

It was fairly muggy in the afternoon but we ended up eating in the Sukkah anyway.  Afterwards I did some reading and took a short nap. I played this game Ticket to Ride with the kids, and then I went to the shortest Mincha service at a synagogue around the corner form the Kulps.  We showed up at the beginning of the silent Amidah, so we were there for all of 15 minutes. Afterwards we went to the park, and David and I chilled. Just before dark we went back, had some nosh, and ended Shabbat.

One of the weirdest aspects of only celebrating one day of yuntif was that it was also Shabbat, so it didn’t feel like yuntif per se – just a Shabbat with some extra stuff.

We waited a while for Sherut to show up at the stop and then got back to Yerushalayim.  After we got back, we went to Supersol (or otherwise known as Shufersal) to get some nosh for desert survival. Then David and I went to our favorite pizzeria, Pizza Panini, and brought it back to Agron to eat in the sukkah. Once again, the owner reminded us that you make Hamotzi even on one slice.

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