A magical night...
From last night through this afternoon, approaching Rosh Hashanah has been a whirlwind of experiences, emotions and little sleep!
The night started out with attending a concert of Shotei Hanevuah, a popular Israeli rock band. Held in the old Jerusalem train station turned into a trendy bar and concert venue, this event was a perfect way to get a taste of the real Israeli culture while having a blast. All of the 300 or so attendees was up on their feet rocking and dancing. The concert running on normal Israel/Jewish time, starting almost an hour late and ended around 12:30 AM. After walking back to Beit Nativ quickly, I quickly got into bed and got a few hours of sleep before being woken up by my alarm at 3:45 in time to quickly put some clothes on for our unique early morning selichot tour. Led by our Israeli staff members, we walked through the neighbourhood of Nachlaot, which is filled with synagogues from various different countries and practices. Our first stop was at a Turkish synagogue, where the selichot was recited in an unfamiliar but beautiful chant. I was very impressed when I was handed a siddur open to the current page, and I was able to follow along with their davening. this was followed by many other synagogues including ones from Syria, Persia, Greece and even, sad enough, a community of sefardim who were kicked out of the ol.d city in 1925.
After the selichot tour, we were rewarded with a stop at one of Jerusalem's best bakeries, Marzipan, known for its legendary Rugelach. I purchased some assorted bourekas for myself for breakfast, which turned out to be some of the best I have ever tasted. When we arrived back at beit nativ, we daved a quick Shacharit and had time for a few hours of rest. At about 10:30, we joined together for some Rosh Hashanah study sessions and workshops. After a quick lunch, I and about ten friends, along with our staff member Jesse took the unique opportunity (at least for me), to immerse in a Mikvah before Rosh Hashanah. Although there is no Mitsvah involved, I still found the Mikvah experince to be a very moving and amazing way to bring in the New Year.
I guess the time has comev to finish preparing for the holiday, which starts in a little over 2 hours.
שנה טובה ומתוקה-Shanah Tovah Umetukah!