Since yesterday morning, I have been blessed with many opportunities to get out and experince life in the city outside of our complex and the Yeshiva. On Friday, a little before noon, I went wirh my friend Jacob for a little authentic Jerusalem shopping, which included buying handmade kippot at the Kippah man, a little hole in the wall on Rechov Yafo, and then moved onto Agrippas where we did some pre-shabbos shopping in and around Machane Yehuda, the Jewish shuk. Whuile there, we got huge falafekl's from a stand just inside the shuk that is said to be one of the best in Israel-I was full after eating half of it! Afterwards I headed back to base to get ready for shabbat, and just take a bit of time to unwind after a busy week. After showering and getting ready, I walked down to the emek refaim area to daven Kabbalat Shabbat at Shira Chadasha, known as the Orthodox Egailtarian minyan, where there is a mechitza but women are permitted to lead parts of the tefillot such as Kabbalat Shabbat. I thought that the singing was very beautiful and inspirational, but that the service was a bit long to do every week. Afterwards, I walked a little bit to the outskirts of Katamon to have shabbat dinner with my chevruta (study partner), his wife and a couple other students from the Yeshiva. It was very nice having a relaxed shabbat dinner, some nice conversation and especially some beautiful singing, since two of the students are in Cantorial school! Following Birkat hamazon, I walked back towards 'home', passing by the Prime Minister's house on the way, and had a tish in Gan Haartzmaut (the park next to the Sheraton Plaza) with my Nativ friends who were in Jerusalem for Shabbat, and we had some food and drink, along with stories and singing. Around midnight, I headed to bed to make sure that I would be able to get up for shul in the morning!
This morning I woke up and around 7:45 left to daven at my favourite shul in Jerusalem, Yedidya with my friend Hillel. One of the features which reminds me of home is the fact that its about a 35 minute walk, just like when I was crazy and walked the same distance to the Hashkama minyan . This morning there was a bar mitzvah, which was very nice since not only did he do a flawless job with his Torah and Haftarah reading, but gave a beautiful D'var Torah in hebrew which I understood almost perfectly. I also enjoyed the harmonizing throghout, along with the cute little girl who led anim zemirot *(Yedidya is a modern Orthodox shul with a very liberal mechitza, and with such innovations as allowing women to carry the Torah, open the ark, asnd recite the prayer for Israel). After a deluxe kiddush, we walked back to Beit nativ for a nice and pretty delicious shabbat lunch. After som zemirot and birkat hamazon, I went back to my room for a nice 3 hour shabbat nap. A little later, I walked with a few friends to the beautiful little shul in Yemin Moshe for mincha, where I got to open the ark and a friend did hagbah. We returned to base for Seudah shlishit, Maariv (which I led), and Havdalah!