This past Friday night and Saturday were Steve’s first Shabbat in Israel and Jerusalem, my last in Jerusalem and Yiscah’s last in Jerusalem and Israel (this time). We began by finally visiting the tiny shul of Rabbi Raz Hartman in Nachlaot. This tiny room – barely 10 x 10 contained more joy at the welcoming of Shabbat then many shuls many times its size. The singing was uplifting and FINALLY there was dancing even in the women’s section during L’cha Dodi! The men were dancing wildly and Steve got pulled into it. On clear clue to the enthusiasm and kavanah (intention) with which Raz greets each Shabbat was that the pages of his siddur were ripped and worn from him pounding his hands while praying.
From there we went to dinner at Nati and Michelle Cohen’s home on the other end of Nachlaot. Nati works as a tour guide and they open their home on Shabbat to visitors who want to learn about Shabbat. We were not there for that purpose but they did have a lovely family from Toronto as guest who Nati was guiding through the city. They also didn’t need to know about Shabbat as they are Chabad. They were on a three month tour in celebration of their son’s bar mitzvah. They were very nice and we had a lovely dinner. Michelle is a splendid cook and we had foods from around the world and Nati is a great story teller.
Shabbat morning we davened at a Masorti (Conservative) minyan – Mayanot – in Talpiot. This was also a small congregation but the service was lovely and Steve and I both had an aliyah (blessing) at the Torah. Afterwards we met Yiscah at my flat for Shabbat lunch. After a long Shabbat shluff (nap) we met up with Yiscah to go to Rabbi Brodt’s holy home for Seudat Shlishi – the third Shabbat meal. It was such an amazing experience. The singing after the meal just about blew the roof off of the house. There were about 30 people packed into the room and everyone was singing with a full heart. It really was transcendent. Rabbi Brodt and his son-in-law both gave teachings and then we marked Havdalah – also filled with singing. I can not imagine a better ending to my last Shabbat in Jerusalem – other than it so made me want to be there for many many more Shabbatot. To be in a place filled with people so in love with being actively Jewish and so in touch with their Jewish souls is inspiring and beautiful.
Sunday morning dawned on the work week and a separation from my month in Jerusalem and immersion in being surrounded by holy learning. What a shocking break it would prove to be! Our first stop was the Thrifty Car Rental office where the female manager was being yelled out and badgered by a man who clearly wasn’t happy to hear that he couldn’t walk in and get whatever car he wanted. It was really intense and he made the young woman helping him cry. After they left, Steve told the employees that we was really impressed with how they had handled it and the manager’s response was “Welcome to Israel.” We got our car and headed to the apartment to pack it up. I had rented the smallest car since there are only two of us but it was almost too small for all our luggage. I guess that concern got out into the universe as three of our bags were stolen from the car while we were parked in the lot at the National Park in Caesaria. Someone smashed the back passenger side window and they took one suitcase with all of Steve’s clothing and what I was planning to wear this coming week, a carry on with a number of items such as my camera battery charger and some knitting stuff and my backpack which had all our flight information, my charge for Elana’s bat mitzvah and other papers. Thank God they didn’t take the bag with the computers – that really was God watching over us as it was sitting on the floor of the car and was clearly the next thing that they would have taken. I assume that they must have been interrupted. They did get my jewelry and Kindle and Steve’s small digital camera. The clothing is a really inconvenience and we spent today in Haifa shopping at the mall rather than sight seeing. Not sure about other sight seeing as we are a bit burnt on parking the car anywhere with our stuff in it. We are grateful that our documents and credit cards were all on us. There was a little cash in the suitcase but not much. The jewelry is upsetting as there were many favorite pieces. But all told, it is only things that can be replaced and we are safe. Thrifty finally brought us a new car at about midnight and we were back on the road this morning.
This does mean that there will be no more pictures till I get home and replace the memory card reader which was taken. I pray that my mobile phone and camera batteries last the next week as those chargers are both gone as well. Inconvenient but not irreplaceable. I keep telling myself that. It has been very upsetting and filing a police report was a total nightmare as the only officer on duty spoke no English. Thank God a military policeman showed up who did and he was pressed into service as a translator. He was very kind and spent 30 minutes or more helping out. The police never looked at the car, though someone did call and let me know that they wouldn’t be fingerprinting but did help me find our way to the hotel we were trying to find. The MP and this officer made up for the difficulty I had at first with the non-English speaking one. Even he became much friendlier once there was a translator and I quit freaking out and yelling at him in confused Hebrew (my mental state destroyed whatever command of the language I had). The people at Nachsholim – where we stayed last night – were very kind as well as were people at the mall today when they heard our story.
We are now with Steve’s second cousin Max on Kibbutz K’far Nasi in northern Israel in the Galil. It is peaceful and beautiful here and lovely to be in a home. Speaking of which, it is time for dinner.