Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Final Week in Jerusalem

Mostly this week has been relatively uneventful, though tinged with a great deal of sadness upon our leaving.  We are certainly excited to come home, see our friends, return to work, etc., but it's never easy to leave our other home, the holy city of Jerusalem.  

Karen and I ended our time at the Conservative Yeshiva with tiyulim (mini trips around the neighborhood) and a lovely song session on the final day.  
My classmates at the Conservative Yeshiva Ulpan

Mincha Minyan at the Stadium
Jonah and Micah ended their fourth week the All Star Sports Camp at Kraft Stadium, which they loved.  They made a lot of friends and played a lot of dodgeball, among other sports.  There was also a family night, where the parents played dodgeball, watched the movie Space Jam, and ate ice cream sundaes.  In between, I was part of a mincha minyan in the middle of the field at Kraft Stadium, a unique and somewhat bizarre experience to be sure. We also went to the first ever organized Lacrosse game in Israel at said stadium, Jerusalem vs. Tel Aviv, and the kids got to take shots on the goalie at half time.
Micah and his best buddie Sruli
Jonah and his best bud Tzvi
We made our last visits to the Wall, enjoyed our last Shabbat (with our good friends and neighbors from home, the Margolin/Zangwill's, a good transition to coming home), and enjoyed our favorite burgers, shwarmas, felafels, ice creams, etc. one last time.

Shuls of the Week
We managed to get three in in one Shabbat.  On Friday night we went to Beit K'nesset Hak'lali, which was advertised to us by a friend as a Bratslav (a particular Chasidic sect) style synagogue with lots of ruach.  I don't know if we hit a bad night, but it had neither ruach nor Bratslaver Chasidim.  It was hot, crowded, and smelled like smoke, but their version of L'cha Dodi was spirited and unique.  Micah loved it, though, because one of his friends from camp was there.  

On Saturday morning, we started at a synagogue in our neighborhood called Chesed v'Emet, who begin their services at 7 AM!  I know that sounds frighteningly early to most of you, but we're up at that hour in this place anyway.  It came highly recommended by, of all people, a wine steward at the restaurant Gabriel.  It was Sephardic, mostly older people, but with a certain amount of spirit and uniqueness to it.  The men took turns reciting Psalms from their seats at the beginning, which is a custom in many Middle Eastern communities, and that's always interesting to see.  

After that we went to the Ashkenazic synagogue in Yemin Moshe, which is known for their great Kiddushes. This synagogue felt very familiar, much like any Conservative service in America, except with a Mechitza.  Othewise, both the atmosphere and the tunes were familiar, and there was even a fairly traditional Bar Mitzvah (but the kid read the entire full Torah reading!).  And, yes, the Kiddush was really, really good.

Wine of the Week
Tabor Mescha 05 Bordeaux style blend.  This was the winery we chanced upon near Tiberias, and this is a very tasty, flavorful red that we tried there and was our favorite.  Great berry/currant notes, and a 91 rating from me.  

It's not going to make the blog, but on my very last night I am going to the Israel Wine Festival at the Israel Museum.  For 70 shekels ($20 or so) you get a glass and can taste as many wines as you like from more than 30 Israeli wineries.  I leave for the airport at 2 AM the next morning, but how can I not go?  I can't wait!

For more on my final thoughts as the trip comes to an end, click here.

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