I find that I have less and less time to blog as I try to do many things with my time, so I figure that I give myself a week grace period to try to write down what’s been going on. I do this as I’m on the bus ride home from a B’yachad seminar for Ramah. More on that in the next blog post.
Last Shabbat I stayed in Jerusalem, for lack of making any other plans really. Before Shabbat, I made a trip out to the shuk to buy some pita, fruit, and a babka cake for the hosts of my Shabbat lunch as I will explain below. I saw Nadiv and Noah (two of my madrichim) walking back as I was on my way (they were carrying a sick amount of Marzipan rugelach), and they told me that it’s really cool how the place is so packed at this time of the week. They were right; the shuk was absolutely packed and bustling. My first question: are people really doing their Shabbat shopping just 3 hours before Shabbat? Ima usually hopes to be done cooking, let alone shopping, by this time of day on Friday. But I found some very good fruit (the grapes ended up tasting delicious) – just the strawberries looked so good yet were so expensive.
Shabbat comes, and while I have really wanted to experience the downstairs minyan at Yakar for a while, I went to Shira Chadasha for Kabbalat Shabbat with David and Seth. I very much take it for granted at this point that Kabbalat Shabbat is that spiritual in Israel because it’s too difficult to come across that in America. My soul was drawn to the niggunim, and of course the kavannah was L’Shem Shamayim. The shaliach tzibbur for ma’ariv was many of my friends’ teacher at Hebrew U during the minimester, and he davened Musaf when I was at Shira Chadasha for Yom Kippur. His intensity and the purity of his voice makes his davening a delight every time – it was a true treat to hear him daven.
Afterwards, Sarah, Ally, David, and I went up to the front of the room, as we decided to get hosted for dinner. We went with a woman named Elisheva, and there were two other guests with her as well as a British family her family is friends with. We had some good discussions, explaining what our program is, talking a bit about Yerucham (they acutally had some good things to say about it), and I was eventually questioned about the difference between Orthodox and Conservative Judaism. At least it wasn’t the difference between Reform and Conservative Judaism. I think I gave them a very honest assesment. But anyway, the food was DELICIOUS. We might have been spoiled. The chicken and schnitzel were fantastic, as well as dessert and the wine we had with dinner. It was a fun night for us.
I left for Yakar by myself in the morning, a little after eight. I made it just as they started P’sukei D’zimra, but of course that is sort of objective. They have no shaliach tizbbur for P’sukei, and so I took my time connecting with the text of P’sukei, and it was gvery uplifiting. Even more uplifting was singing Nishmat all out loud – it’s such a beautiful poem that gets mumbled and is highly underrated. We also did a fantastic tune for Shochen Ad/U’vmakhalot, as well as Hakol Yoducha (also done all out loud) and El Adon. I was a happy camper, and I really gained a lot by being by myself for davening. Sometimes the separation from people I know really enhances my davening. They did not have kiddush and shiur in between Shacharit and Torah this time (which they usually do, I’m not sure what was different last week). I think the other highlight to share is that I got an aliyah. Woo!
For lunch, David, Seth, and I went to the Epsteins’ for lunch. They have a beautiful, new apartment just off of Keren Ha-Yesod. We had a lovely afternoon and spent over three hours there. Mrs. Epstein made excellent food, as well, and they got the most unreal parve cake from Marzipan for dessert. It’s beyond us how that cake was parve.
Only complaint about Shabbat: just not long enough! Not enough time to spend with friends, eating, reading, napping. But here comes another fantastic Shabbat!