Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yom Hodu B'Yisrael


This morning at Shacharit, we said Tachanun as normal (in fact, a long Tachanun as is done Monday and Thursday).  But a little later, I realized that had I been davening at a Conservative synagogue in America, there’s a good chance we would have omitted Tachanun.  Because Thanksgiving is a very celebratory holiday, many hold that it isn’t fit to add that sorrow into a holiday.  Thanksgiving, though, is an American holiday after all, and there was barely a trace here in Israel of the holiday.  Learning, however, felt very different today because we did chazarah (review) on a few of the previous segments of Talmud we have done in chavruta (partners) only, with no class.  So it was very laid back - laid back enough that I was able to do my laundry during the time allotted for Talmud.

I spent a bit of my afternoon cleaning my room, and now I actually can sit at a desk as I write this.  Someone expressed this, too, but it very much felt like Friday afternoon.  I guess it’s not very often that I’m not in Yeshiva when the sun sets, but from the sounds of the horns and other stuff on the streets (all of which I can hear from my room), I felt a sense of rush.  It could also be that I felt rushed in getting cleaned up, and I put extra time in for shaving, showering, and cutting my nails (in case you were curious about that).

The Nativ tradition for many years is that not only does Nativ have Thanksgiving dinner, but also all alumni and former staff currently in Israel are invited to dinner.  We don’t all fit into one dining room, so the festivities began with Ma’ariv at Moreshet Yisrael, followed by some introductions, a video about this year’s Nativ group, and also Kol Nativ!  We sang Acheinu (which I conducted) and Lishuatcha Kivinu, both of which ended up sounding decent after some worries over the past couple of weeks.  A few people extended compliments to me on the performances.

After all of that jazz, we were split up based on current Nativ track or Nativ number – so the Kick-Butt Kehilla Track and those from Nativ 1-23 ate downstairs in the regular cafteria, and Kibbutz and all other alumni ate upstairs.  Current Nativers were specifically instructed to go through a specific door so we would see envelopes for us that contained letters from family and friends.  I got one from Ima & Abba, Micha, Grandma, Bubbie & Pop, and Grandma.  They were all very nice.  Ima & Abba wrote a rhyming acrostic – pretty epic.  The couple of people I read it to really enjoyed it so I guess it must have been good!  Just kidding, I really appreciated hearing from everyone.  I sat with a bunch of my friends – I sort of regretted not sitting with some of the Nativ alumni, but I knew a few of the other people around so I schmoozed with them for a little while.  The food was pretty good and the meal overall was decent.  Not the most grand of feasts, but whenever we’re at home for Thanksgiving it’s hard for it to be more than a good Shabbat dinner anyway.

After dinner, just the current Nativ went down to level -3 to have some Nativ time. We watched a video featuring all Nativers plus "Friends" clips and more that I can’t remember, produced by Sarah and Sophie.  I laughed out loud for at least 50% of the video – it was fantastic!

For the next few weekends, there’s Hamshushalayim Festival on Thursday, Friday, and Shabbat in Jerusalem, so tonight a bunch of us decided to see a jazz performance at the Davidson Center in the Old City.  I enjoyed the music but don’t have much to criticize anyway other than the weird bass player when he rapped and the awkwardness of the lead musician.  Josh, sitting next to me, knows a lot about jazz so he shared some critiques with me.  The lead musician, among many instruments he played, played a wind synthesizer, which was cool but the high notes weren’t too flattering.

Afterwards, we went around the center along the walls, which was cool.  I got some good views from there and took pictures.  Many places visible from there were very scenic.  Then, as we were leaving the Old City, most of the guys decided to take the short route, but my Jordana and I were up for a greater adventure, so we and Meir went a long way around, taking our time.  We climbed some rocky areas (while Meir played hide-and-seek), tried to not get run over as the sidewalk ended at a certain point, and we found ourselves right by the Sultan’s Pool.  I didn’t recognize it at all because it was just a muddy dump, unlike when it was used for Matisyahu’s concert.  No resemblance whatsoever.  We walked through there and tried to figure out where to go, but we found a route.  At a certain point, we ended up walking through the Artists’ Colony and strolled through there.  It’s a nice little neighborhood near the Old City.

I was talking to Mrs. Nina Freedman tonight for a little, and she told me that she tells her kids that she has a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving here in Israel – that she’s not in America on the holiday.  And while I would have loved to have been with my family in Pittsfield, MA for the holiday (it seemed like quite a party just from skyping with them), I have a tremendous privelege (z’chut) to be in Israel this year.  I’m thankful to be in the land, to live a life like I do here, and for all of the wonderful friends I’ve made and become close to over the course of the year.  I’m just as thankful for my family always thinking of me, which was very evident from the letters I received and the Skype conversation we had tonight.

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