Let’s see if I know where to start here. I haven’t written in quite a while and much has happened about which, at one point or another, I had intended to write. So I’ll break it down to the best of my ability.
I’ll start off with Wednesday night. I started taking the Jewish Educators Training course with a guy named Mark Lazar. In essence, the goal of the program is to train us to use creative, innovative, and informal techniques to be Hebrew school teachers who are engaging students effectively. After one class, it seems the potential is great and I’m looking forward to opening my eyes in many different areas of informal Jewish education that will engage the young crowd.
Thursday was an interesting day. The day of learning was dedicated to Rafi Lehmann z”l, who had been a student at the Yeshiva a few years ago. Students from JTS studying at Mechon Schechter were there for a good chunk of the day, during which a few of them who knew Rafi delievered some words in his memory. Reb Shmuel’s sicha, dedicated in memory of Rafi, was about tefillah, which brought it home for me, since I knew Rafi most in the context of tefillah. This sicha was one of my favorites so far: he described the discipline involved in tefillah, building our lives around it, the practice it takes, and the relationship between the inward and outward notions of tefillah. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks, when he will go into more detail about certain parts of tefillah. Part of what made Thursday interesting for me, however, was that while we were honoring the memory and involved in dealing with death, it was also Abba’s birthday, and much of my mind was concentrated on celebrating his life (though of course I am very far away from him). At any rate, I got a haircut on Thursday afternoon that cost me only 35 shekel, and many people commented on a job well done – Misperei Rafi, I salute you. I also went to Mister Zol (“mister cheap”) to stock up on food – some snacks, pita, cheese, sauce (all for pita pizza), and pizza burekas. I spent a little more than I anticipated, but it’ll last me a while, I hope. That night everyone went out to Crack Square, as usual; I wasn’t really up for that, so I stayed in. No big deal.
I stayed in Jerusalem for this Shabbat. Originally, my plan was to daven at Yakar Friday night, but then last second I changed my mind and went to Shira Chadasha to experience Kabbalat Shabbat there. Either way, I would have enjoyed davening, but I’m glad I made it out to Shira Chadasha for one Kabbalat Shabbat. Dinner and tisch were nice, as usual. After all of that I took a walk and had quality talk with my best friend Shira, and went to bed extremely tired.
Shabbat morning I went to Yedidya with my friends LeeAnn and Jordana. My conclusion from that service is that it’s what I like in a quality davening – use of good nusach and good tunes at the same time, and it’s what I’d love to see in any schul that I would join in America. I didn’t feel so great during the Torah service and onwards (possibly from the flu shot that I took on Thursday, I’m still not sure what’s going on), but I made it through fine. I’ve had a cough since Friday night, and I felt sort of feverish during services. Meanwhile, between the couple of short divrei Torah at the service and the commentaries I had printed out to read, I got a lot out of the parasha last week; it’s great that in a parasha where a lot seems old and stale, I got some new chidushim (from “chadash,” “new” or here, new idea). After schul I went to lunch at the apartment of an AJU Rabbinical Student with whom I study at the yeshiva and was met there by David and a few other AJU rab students. It was quite an entertaining fiesta of 90s references and stam humor. I had cholent for the first time! Not too shabby. But I was pretty tired after lunch and collapsed in bed until mincha (which was followed by a horrible seudat shlishit).
After Shabbat, David and I headed out to a Melaveh Malka (“accompanying the [Shabbat] Queen”) at the apartment of two other AJU rab students. Besides the good marzipan and wine, Rabbi Brad Artson had a great presentation of reading a psalm from three different viewpoints, to understand the relationships of Jew with the world, Jew with Jew, and Jew with him/herself. Fascinating! Afterwards I went to Beit Shmuel (not far from Beit Nativ) to meet up with Brenna, and we went out for ice cream on Ben Yehuda. I went to bed feeling no better than I did in the morning, and I told David I might not show up for a good chunk of Sunday.
Sunday I managed to wake up and go to Shacharit, against David’s advice, and then I showed up to Yeshiva feeling awful. I was in there for about 10 minutes when I was told to go home and rest. So I essentially spent my day watching South Park and making Pita Pizza. That night was the Idan Raichel concert, and I wasn’t sure whether I should go. I resolved that I should go at least for a little while, and if I wasn’t feeling up to it I would leave. There were several times before the concert that I thought I was going to leave. But I didn’t, Idan was AMAZING and I ended up having a great time. I’m very glad I didn’t miss the opportunity to see him live. He actually didn’t do so much singing; his other vocalists did most of it.
By the way, something I thought of on Thursday. I heard a siren meandering the streets of Jersualem during Talmud, and I started thinking about how one’s life can be so tranquil at a given moment, where another’s person’s life can be on the line and others have extreme anxiety. I don’t really know what insight this provides – I guess I just started thinking about the way human lives intersect or don’t intersect and the ways our experiences are separated.
I’m coughing like none other, but otherwise, to be continued.