Although recently I've been writing only about once per week, I've had such a busy and exciting past few days that I thought I'd share a little more about what I've done for the past two days ofHanukah. Yesterday morning, I woke up as usual for tefillot at the Conservative Yeshiva, had a sufganiyah for breakfast (don't worry, I'm trying to walk off the calories!), and had a somewhat shortened Talmud Shiur. Around 11:45, we ended class and walked downtown to the Marvad Haksamim (Magic Carpet) restaurant for an end of the semester celebration before the Nativers end their stay at the Yeshiva. Marvad is a restaurant serving traditional sephardic , Yemenite and Mediterranean dishes, and it did not disappoint. I ordered the עיסקית (business lunch special) for 49 Shekel, which includedKubeh soup (Kubeh are somewhat the Sephardic equivalent of matzoh balls, with a coucous outside and meat inside), Meorav Yerushalmi (Mixed Grill) which included all types of grilled chicken, turkey and lamb, french fries, falafel balls, and delicious laffa bead. There was so much food that I took the leftovers home for dinner!
After lunch, I returned to the Yeshiva, for the final session of my Halacha class with our Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Lewis. As a finale, we today studied a Teshuva from the Tzitz Eliezer, by Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg who just passed away a few weeks ago. The Topic is the limits of the laws of Pikuach Nefesh, and specifically if a judge is allowed to misjudge in a case where one party has threatened his life, and whether he has to compensate the affected party. It was fascinating to study thehalachic sources relating to the topic as well as Rabbi Waldenberg's interpretation of them.
In the early evening, after the end of classes, the Kibbutz group of Nativ traveled together to the Gilo Home for The Handicapped to celebrate Hanukah with the residents there, by singing Hanukah songs with them and light candles. Although it was somewhat difficult for us to communicate with some of the residents, I could tell by their smiles when we left how much they appreciated our visit.
We continued the spirit of giving by having a group of Nativers who study at the Conservative Yeshiva spend the morning at Yad LeKashish, the lifeline for the old, which is an organization that provides workshops where the elderly craft beautiful Judaica items and receive payment for their work, allowing them dignity in old age. We stopped by each of the eight workshops and in each one, lit candles, sang songs, and chatted a bit with those working there. After volunteering, I stopped by theYad Lekashish gift shop and bought two beautiful kippot for myself.
Today seemed to be the day for shopping, and my next stop was at the Shocken Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary, located a block from Beit Nativ adjacent to the Prime Minister's residence. Because of the location, On my way over there I got to see a news report being filmed live on location for BBC! The Library was having theirHanukah sale of Judaica books published by JTS. As a Hanukah treat, I purchased a copy of 'Pesikta D'rav Kahana' and 'The Responsa of Professor Louis Ginsberg'! We also were shown a copy of a Bible manuscript from the year 1290 with a beautifully illuminated title page. what a treat!
Next stop was to head up to Meah Shearim with my friends Jacob and Sarah so they could do some last minute gift shopping. Although I didn't buy any, it was still nice to spend time with them and do some nice browsing.
I then went back home and had a quick bite of lunch, before I headed down to the Yeshiva for a Shiur by our director, Rabbi Daniel Goldfarb, on the history and meaning of Maoz Tzur. Although I was somewhat familiar with the song, it was interesting to gain some new insight by examining each of the 6 verses critically along with the biblical verses referenced within them. After theshiur I participated in candlelighting and Maariv at the Yeshiva, before going back home to light candles of my own.
After dinner, I headed next door to Congeregation Moreshet Yisrael to enjoy a concert put on by the first year students of the JTS Cantorial School. I have gotten to know these students very well as they are also part of the Yeshiva community, and it was fun to see them on stage. While they did perform some standardcantorial pieces, the concert also included a plethora of Hanukah music, including 5 different versions of Maoz Tzur!