Friday, November 24, 2006
An enjoyable Wednesday afternoon followed by Turkey Day!
Yesterday afternoon, since I didn't have any scheduled class, I decided to get out and see Jerusalem, and this time my travels took me towards the Old City, Jewish Quarter, and finally the Kotel! I walked down Agron st. past the US Consulate, David's Citadel Hotel, and arrived within ten minutes at the Jaffa Gate, which I decided to enter through. I hung a right past the Tower of David, and passed through the Armenian Quarter to get the the Jewish Quarter. Once I got there, I spent a little time walking around, and made my way to the Moriah bookstore, where I browsed for about an hour. I left there just as the sun was setting, which I watched as I was walking down the steps to the Kotel. A few minutes later, it was dark enough to daven Maariv, and interestingly enough, the first minyan I found was sefardi, so it was an unusual, yet still meaningful experience. Although the Kotel may just be a wall of stones, every time I go there I am able to feel an important connection to both the history and present of the Jewish people, as this wall was not only a Jewish holy site for two millenium, but is also the focal point of prayer all over the world.
Although Thanksgiving is unknown in Israel except among expatrite American Olim, it is very much a marked occasion on Nativ. Thanksgiving serves not only as a time to bring together all of the Bogrei Nativ (Alumni) who have made Aliyah, but gave those of us on Nativ the chance to reflect on our year so far. This morning started normally with Tefillot at the Yeshiva, Talmud class, and a lunch of grilled cheese. In the afternoon I had on of my favourite classes, Contemporary Issues in Halacha with Rabbi Dr. Pesach Schindler, where today we discussed how Judaism views the death penalty. We then davened Mincha and I had a few hours to read and relax, and around 5:30 we gathered together, both current and former Nativers and staff. Before dinner we had a ceremony to introduce this year's Thanksgiving in general and as well to honour the memory of Michael Levin ז"ל, a Boger Nativ who was killed thiis past summer in action in Lebanon. As part of the ceremony, I sang the son Lo Yisa Goi along with the Nativ Acapella group. We then got to come together in the Chadar Ochel for a pretty authentic and traditional thanksgiving dinner, including a real carved turkey with stuffing! After dinner the Acapella group sang Lean On Me, after which we saw a slide show of our year so far! Chag Hodayah (Hodu) Sameach! Happy Thanksgiving (Turkey Day)!