Sunday, May 15, 2011

Jerusalem Week 5

This was a relatively uneventful week.  We continue to feel blessed to be here, and every moment seems to be infused with a certain holiness.  Shabbat is especially beautiful.   On Fridays I usually go by myself, while Karen and the kids go with me on Saturday morning.  I don't really feel alone, though, since at least a half a dozen perfect strangers wish me "Shabbat Shalom" on my walk to synagogue every Friday night.  We ate Shabbat lunch this week at Diane Bloomfield's house, who is the sister of one of our TBA members and the teacher of "Torah Yoga."  She and her family provided wonderful food and company.  One of the teachings she shared with us which she learned from someone else is that the most important way of creating a feeling of unity is through a shared calendar.  Nowhere does that ring truer than in Jerusalem, where nearly everyone observes Shabbat in some way, shape, or form.  The Talmud tells us that if the Jewish people would just observe one Shabbat in unison, the Messiah would come.  On Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons in Jerusalem, it sometimes feels like he/she is already here.  Plus, my boys got along perfectly today, so it REALLY felt Messianic.

Har Herzl Cemetery
Perhaps the most moving thing we did this week was visit the Har Herzl cemetery, where most of Israel's msot important leaders are buried, as well as the military cemetery right next to it.  Placing stones on the graves of Golda Meir, Yitzchak Rabin, Levi Eshkol, Teddy Kollek, and soldiers who died in the wars from 1948 through today in terrorist actions, was really an awe inspiring experience.  It's very hard for most of us to relate to the idea of people that are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause of defending their nation, but seeing the graves caused me to think about the depth of those feelings.  It was really quite an afternoon for all of us.
Gravestone of one of the famous Golda.
Gravestone of Michael Levine, recent
American immigrant and Camp Ramah
Counselor.  His grave has become almost
a pilgrimage site for many American Jews.
Shul of the Week
This week we attended Mizmor l'David, a very modern Orthodox synagogue in the Talpiot neighborhood.  They have a side by side mechitza, so women feel much more comfortable here, and a woman takes the Torah and carries it around the women's section so all have the opportunity to kiss it.  The ruach here is tremendous, with people singing in wonderful harmonies at the top of their lungs to mostly Shlomo Carlebach melodies. The people also try to dance after Lecha Dodi, both the men and the women, though separately.   If I hadn't attended another Carlebach style synagogue called Kol Rina the week before, this would have been amazing, but It's hard to compare anything to the ecstatic feeling created there.  This was just an energy notch below.  However, the Saturday Musaf at Mizmor l'David was the best Musaf I have ever seen.  The person davening had an amazing combination of good voice, ruach, and sincerity.  Unfortunately, the 3 1/2 hour service which preceded Musaf didn't enable me to enjoy it fully.  Still, I have to give many kudos to the men and women sustaining this shul.  It's certainly a great one and, as I said, would have felt even greater had I not had the even more amazing experience the week before.

Wine of the Week
This week's wine was the 2008 Psagot Shiraz.  This was not a winery with I was familiar, as it is not widely available outside of Israel (though their website says it is sold in the United States).  This was a 91.  I liked it almost as much as the Barkan Reserve.  Its color was especially beautiful--like a perfect plum.  It was smooth and rich with very soft tannins.  It is made in the Jerusalem Hills, and Karen remarked that this was her favorite so far.

Shavua Tov, a good week!

1 comment:

  1. Mark neglected to mention that he was asked to give an on-the-spot d'var torah at the kiddush on Saturday. He gave a wonderful drash where he talked about the shmita year and related it to our own sabbatical. He also extended it to everyone, encouraging each of them to find their own way to take a break where they can connect to God.