I went down to Ima’s apartment right in the heart of the Emek Refaim neighbourhood, one of the trendiest areas of Jerusalem. After they arrived, we conveniently went right next door and had a delicious dinner of Falafel and shawarma at Falafel Doron. After relaxing at my place for a little while, everyone went to bed with some much-needed sleep.
After my morning class with Reb Pesach Schindler on the topic of אנציקלופדיה תלמודית (Talmudic Encyclopedia) and דרך ארץ (proper behavior) where we broke into chavrutot and prepared a section of the encyclopedia and its sources to present to the class , Ima and Joshua joined us for Mincha and we got on our way. Our first stop was for lunch at an Italian restaurant called Macaroni, where we took advantage of the popular Israeli lunch deal called an עסקית (Business Special) where for 35å Ima and I got Jerusalem artichoke soup, bread and antipasto, a large pasta dish and a salad, and Joshua got a pizza and a drink. After lunch we continued to Machane Yehuda, the Jewish marketplace which is a highlight of any trip to the city. Ima and Joshua each purchased one of the famous Marzipan rugelach, and we proceeded to wander around through the rest of the market, picking up some fresh strawberries along the way. Our next stop was the Haredi neighbourhood of Meah Shearim, which also happens to be a great Judaica shopping destination, and in about an hour we got some books for Joshua at Manny’s Bookstore, a beautiful tallit for his Bar Mitzvah, and a personalized Shtender (bookstand) at the Olive Wood Factory. Heading back towards downtown, we stopped at Fialkoff’s Pizza and got Joshua a real Israeli sufganiya, picked up some groceries at מיסטר זול (Mister Cheap, the Israeli equivalent of No Frills!), and got a burger at burger king. We then relaxed at my place and recovered from the rainy weather that had plagued us for the previous few hours.
After a morning class by Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow on the topic of ‘Is it a Mizvah to make Aliyah?’, Ima and Joshua again joined me for Mincha, but the rest of the day was spent mostly just hanging around, with a mid-afternoon trip to Supersol, because of the snow that had taken over the city early that afternoon (see my previous post and pictures). Although the amount of snow we received would be considered negligible in Toronto, it managed to basically shut the city down, and the traffic lights being out at the intersection of Agron and King George streets right in front of my window didn’t help. Despite the weather, we did manage to get out and enjoy a delicious meal at the Olive Grill with our friends Debbie and Josh Goldsmith, and Debbie’s parents Helen and Paul Wolf from Cleveland. After a lovely meal with great company, I was still glad when I was able to return home to my warm, heated room.
Today I had a morning class with Rabbi Joel Roth, the top Posek (halachic authority) in the Conservative Movement, on the topic of ‘Pattern for Change within Halacha’, which turned out to be very interesting and informative. After leading Mincha, Ima, Joshua and I decided to have lunch at Pinati, the landmark Jerusalem hummus restaurant. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait to long for a table and exactly 19 seconds after ordering (according to Joshua’s watch), our order of two kubeh soups, a plate of hummus basar, and a plate of chips arrived. Just like last time, our trip to Pinati was a delicious experience. After relaxing for a little bit, we set out to the Israel museum, to take advantage of their special that children are free on Thursday evenings, which happened to be sponsored by the Canadian friends of the museum. Our first stop was at the new Model of Jerusalem during the second temple, which had recently been moved from the Holy Land Hotel. I was lucky enough to run into a docent who offered to give us a guided tour in Hebrew, which I was able to understand almost every word of. We then saw a new movie about the Essenes, who wrote the dead sea scrolls, and toured the Shrine of the Book. After spending some time in the museum’s permanent exhibit, we capped off our visit in the temporary exhibit about bread, which everyone enjoyed. On our way home we stopped at the Kiryat Wolfson Mister Zol (sort of like the Thornhill No Frills) and Supersol, where we bought a variety of bourekas and had a picnic in my room.
This week Ima and Joshua joined Avram and I on our weekly visit to Hazon Yeshaya. We first saw a video on their efforts to help with relief in the North during this past summer’s war, after which we got right to work peeling and chopping vegetables, and delivering and serving food. Around noon, we headed back to my place and stopped on the way for a lunch of Shawarma (for me) and Pizza (for Ima and Joshua). We then got ready for Shabbat and around 3 PM, Ima and Abba’s friends Sarah and Teddy’s daughter Rebecca picked us up and drove us to their home in Givat Ze’ev, a town a few kilometres north of the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ramot. We arrived and got settled for Shabbat, and after a while left for Kabbalat Shabbat. We davened with Bnei Akiva, which was a neat combination of a Carlebach Kabbalat Shabbat with a Moroccan maariv. We then returned to Sarah and Teddy’s house for a delicious Shabbat dinner. The most exciting part of the night was yet to come, as we left before the end of the meal to participate in a tish with the Karlin-Stolin Hassidim who have a community in Givat Ze’ev. We entered the Beit Midrash and took seats along a long table, with rows of seats surrounding in each direction. We all stood up as the Rebbe and his sons-in-law entered the room, and before the tish began each of was given a piece of challah, in order to show that we were continuing our Shabbat meal that we had begun at home. The tish then got off to a start as the Hassidim, dressed in their Shabbat robes (gold for those born in Israel, Black for Chutz La’aretz) and streimels, began singing their zemirot in perfect harmony, beginning and ending at the signal of the rebbe. After the first few zemirot, everyone got up, took a cup with a small amount of wine and made a bracha. We then got into a long line and one after the other, shook the Rebbe’s hand and finished the wine. After that we sang a few more Zemirot, such as Yah Ekhsof, written by the first rebbe of Karlin, and also including one dance. Before Birkat Hamzon, a dessert of apple cobbler was passed out, and everyone ate after the rebbe. Plates of chickpeas were also passed out in honour of a new baby boy that was born. We then washed for Mayim Achronim and said Birkat Hamazon, after which there was another selection of Zemirot, an d a final dance. The tish was an amazing and unique experience, one that I won’t forget for a long time. We then walked back home, had dessert, and read for a little while before getting a good night of sleep.
After getting an amazing 10 hours of sleep, I woke up and went with Eli, Sarah and Teddy’s youngest son who is the same age of Joshua to the Ashkenazi shul of Givat Ze’ev. Tefillot began at 8 am and were over before 10, went at a nice pace and I even received the honour of Peticha (opening the ark). I had plenty of time to relax before a delicious lunch, after which I read and napped. I went back to the shul for Mincha, seudah shlishit, shiur in Hebrew and maariv. We returned to Sarah and Teddy’s for Havdalah and a light dinner, after which we returned to Jerusalem. In order to have some sustenance before Sunday’s fast, we went out Motzei Shabbat to Tal Bagels, which are some of the most authentic bagels in Jerusalem. To go along with my onion bagel with lox, I got one of the restaurant’s specialties, an Iced Mekupelet (Israeli shaved chocolate bar!. Taim meo’d!
Sunday, Fast of Asarah b’tevet:
The day began with Shacharit at the Conservative Yeshiva, where I led P’sukei D’zimra. In the morning, we had a tanach class with Esther Israel which dealt with some of the prophecies regarding the destruction of the first Temple and the Babylonian exile in the books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. After class, we davened Mincha, where I read the Haftarah. In the afternoon I relaxed and rested, and a little after 5 pm we had an impromptu Ma’ariv service and ended the fast.