Sunday, July 6, 2014

Exploding Soccer Balls and Broken Door Handles

Our traveling companions the Morris' and the Zangwill's
This was probably the strangest Shabbat I have ever spent in Jerusalem. While the tension continues over kidnappings and murders, there are bombs being sent from Gaza to Sderot and what they are calling a Jewish "terrorist cell" kidnapped and murdered a Palestinian youth in retaliation for the three Israelis who were murdered, it feels odd to be writing about such seemingly trivial problems, but here we go...

Exploding Soccer Balls
In anticipation of visiting playgrounds on Shabbat, we bought a very cheap soccer ball for my boys to play with. The store owner actually warned us that this was not a good ball and that we shouldn't buy it, but since we only needed it to last 10 days, we went ahead and did so anyway. Well, before Shabbat even began, my boys were walking across the street with Micah carrying the ball in his drawstring backpack, when they heard an explosion that sounded like a gunshot right next to them. They, along with several other people they tell me, immediately ducked down on the ground in utter fear and panic. When you hear something that sounds like a gunshot or a bomb in a place like Israel (or Oakland, for that matter), it's a frightening prospect. Fortunately, the source of the explosion was the soccer ball. It literally exploded in Micah's backpack, tearing a hole in it. Quite a scare, so we knew it was going to be a strange Shabbat.

Broken Door Handles

The locksmith receipt
Just before Shabbat began, we noticed one of the handles on the door of our apartment was loose. We called the landlord and they said they would try to send someone to fix it, but it was almost 6 PM on Friday. We hoped it would make it through Shabbat.... Well, it didn't. We arrived home at 10 PM from synagogue (the very spirited Modern Orthodox synagogue Yakar), andwe had trouble getting in. The handle then fell off the door completely. We were locked out on Shabbat!  I don't like to carry my phone on Shabbat, but I had this feeling. So we called the landlord--no answer.  We called the landlord 5 minutes later and 5 minutes later after that--no answer. The neighbors tried in vain to help us, but tweezers and screwdrives and paper clips could not get us inside.

So, time to call the locksmith. But wait, what locksmith is open on Shabbat?  Ths smartphone gave us several numbers, most of which said "24-6."  A few said 24-7, and I called them. But all I could do was leave messages in my very broken Hebrew. Finally, one of our traveling companions, Stuart Zangwill, found one on the 4th page of google. Whoever gets to the 4th page!?  But he reached one. He was secular and was only annoyed to be taken away from the World Cup.  So by 11:15, we were in.  Whew!

And, at least we got to have the greatest challa in the world from Ugat Chen in Machane Yehuda!

We are having a wonderful time as we always do in Israel, spending a delightful Shabbat, running into Beth Abraham members on the street (hello Golub family, Werthan family, Berrol family, Edelstein family, Hebrew school teacher Ariella) and many other people I know in this "small world," eating incredible food, and visiting and revisiting favorite sights (tunnel tours under the Western Wall, the City of David, old City Scavenger Hunt, Yad Vashem, and much more).

The former Gan Avraham Justice League wrapping tefilin
Blooms and Zangwills on Edlestein Balcony in Yemin Moshe

Western Wall Tunnel Tours

Shavua Tov from Jerusalem!


  1. Rabbi Mark, We arrived home a week ago after spending 2 months in Eretz. So sorry you didn't run into us even if we belong elsewhere! Janet King sent me this and I cracked up. With the news today we could all use a good laugh. Both our kids, Marc in Jerusalem and Jennifer in Raanana, spent time in the safe room earlier today. Life goes on! Stay safe, Marianne and Herb Friedman

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