When you are abroad you think that all the angst in Israel revolves around the Palestinian issue. Right now, the big news and the big protests center around affordable housing. The Israeli economy has done extremely well despite what is going on in the rest of the world, but a strong economy means housing prices have risen to unaffordable levels, particularly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Tent city protests have sprung up throughout Israel, and it is interesting to watch as a relative outsider. Sadly, there are no easy answers.
This Shabbat was a return to my roots in Reform Judaism. On Friday night we attended Kol Hanishama, where I spent most of my Friday nights in Rabbinical School. Reform services in Israel are almost entirely in Hebrew, and Kol Hanishama is known for their wonderful singing and energy. Some of the tunes we use often at Beth Abraham come from here, including the song "Kol Hanishama" and one of the melodies we use for Lecha Dodi. They still draw a large crowd, and we enjoyed ourselves, though we did not enjoy being relegated to the back in the "non member" section. On the one hand we understand that the regulars need places to sit, but it's not the warmest feeling when you walk in.
On Saturday morning we went to Hebrew Union College on King David Street, which is where I attended my first year of rabbinical school. They do not have services every week there anymore, but this was a week in which they did hold them. I was pleasantly surprised by the ruach in the room compared to when I attended 21 years ago. With a congregation made up mostly of rabbinical students and alumni rabbis, though, I shouldn't have been that surprised. I did see some old colleague/friends that I hadn't seen in many years. One tortured and teased me because I could not figure out who he was at first. I finally got it, but it was rough for me, since I pride myself on my memory. Note to any readers in case I momentarily forget who you are as I get older.: It is kinder just to say who you are so as not to embarrass the person, specifically me! It doesn't mean I don't love you. I enjoyed many of the tunes, though they go very, very slowly, so some of them seem to take forever. The boys commented that the singing was a "little too much like the opera," though, having never been I'm not sure how they would know that. The Torah reading was very short (only three small Aliyot). I didn't mind, but it was strange for us. Still, it was fun to remember what it was like praying in that very same chapel as a student 21 years ago!
We had a delicious Shabbat lunch at the beautiful home of Moshe and Libby Werthan, the parents of our TBA member Melissa, a great way to conclude the week.
Wine of the Week
This week's wine was one of the ones I tasted during the wine trip and bought, a 2008 Cabernet Franc from Na'aman Winery. That's the one by the former filmmaker who names many of his wines after rock groups and songs. This was a big, bold wine, though without too much wood flavor despite a fairly lengthy French Oak aging process. I think the grape's flavor was so powerful that it over shadows the oak. That's not necessarily a bad thing at all. In the movie Sideways, Miles doesn't like what most American wineries are doing with the Cabernet Franc. Rami Na'aman is doing something very right with it, though. 90 points.
This week, Ulpan!