Monday, June 6, 2011

Nearing Shavuot

Tomorrow night is Shavuot.  Our time here seems to be flying by.  After Shavuot, we have one "normal" week which encompasses mine and Mark's last day of ulpan.  The following week will be Micah and Jonah's last day of ulpan and the next day, the TBA congregational trip to Israel arrives.

These first two months have had so many special moments and lots of life.  Looking back, I see that it didn't really take that long to get used to walking everywhere, to get the know our neighborhood and the neighborhoods of our ulpans, to meet some new people, and to learn how to navigate the purchase and consumption of food and other items.

So, let me highlight two very special moments that I have not yet written about, our trip to the Negev and Tel Aviv, and our morning at Women at the Wall, and then recall a bit of the day to day.

We took a very interesting trip to Mamshit, Kibbutz Magal, and Tel Aviv.  Mark did a wonderful job as always of arranging all of the details, from rental car to rented GPS to accommodations to museum reservations.  I so appreciate being the assistant in this department and not having to worry about planning.

On the first morning of the trip, while I attended my ulpan class, Mark went to the rental car place and picked up our car and GPS.  It came with a carrying case that looked like a blue lunch box which we had to take with us at every stop.  It is not permitted to leave it in the car because they are so easy and popular to steal.  When I got home from ulpan, we left for Mamshit, the home of the camel ranch next to Dimona in the Negev.  On our way out of Jerusalem, we stopped at Latrun which houses a museum for the Armored Corps.  We had a hard time finding the movie that we thought would tell the history of the spot, but we finally found it but it ended up telling the story of the museum instead.  However, Micah and Jonah had a lot of fun climbing on the many tanks that they have there.  We also got to see some new recruits practicing for a ceremony of some kind.  The most powerful display there was the tower of tears which is a tall square room made of tank metal featuring some gunshot holes, and water drips down the sides and pools at the bottom, under the glass floor that you stand on.  It's very moving.

On the way from Latrun to Mamshit, we stopped in Beersheva simply because Mark had never been there before.  We drove around what looked like the main parts of the city and stopped for a yummy falafel and schwarma. 

At the Mamshit Camel Ranch, we were welcomed on our arrival and treated to some yummy sweet tea.  The boys got some ice cream instead.  :-)  In the afternoon, Mark and the boys went on a one hour camel ride while I stayed in the cabin and rested and read.  That was so relaxing.  After they returned, we had our shepherd's dinner featuring a stew of veggies, bread cooked on pebbles (pronounced peebles by our host), rice and lentils.  Everything was very fresh and yummy.  The desert air was great, and we got to enjoy a real Israeli medura or bonfire in the evening.  But then we tried to go to bed and the bugs were just AWFUL.  We didn't know we needed to bring our bug spray so we were basically up all night suffering.  Jonah got some sleep but Micah and Mark and I had a really tough time.  It was not fun.  Fortunately, the sun rose in the morning and we all enjoyed the shepherd's breakfast which had yogurt, pudding, eggs, more fresh veggies, and of course more tea.  I'd recommend others visit for the day but not overnight, but if you do go overnight, don't forget your insect repellent!

Next we left the ranch and visited the Aroma cafe in Dimona.  I enjoyed a delicious chai tea.  Then we drove from the south to the north along route 6 which hugs the border between the Palestinian territories and Israel.  For some of the drive, we were riding right along the security fence.  Very striking.  On our way north we stopped at Petach Tikvah to take a look around.  We ended up having lunch at a Cafe Cafe there but they did not have an English menu so it was very hard on Mark to have the burden of ordering everything for us.  Then we drove up to Kibbutz Magal which is where Adi Schacker grew up.  Her parents David and Bahira Yaron were so incredibly warm and welcoming.  It was like visiting paradise.  There is a two bedroom apartment upstairs that we got to stay in that included a full kitchen with a fully loaded and stocked refrigerator and pantry.  There were veggies, fruits, treats (chocolates, Bamba), cereals, bread, pita, cheese, yogurt, milk, etc. etc. etc.  Incredible!

We enjoyed a quiet Friday night Shabbat dinner with the Yarons and David took us for a walk around the kibbutz and gave us a tour of the factory there which manufactures irrigation pipeline.  Kibbutz Magal was the first to create drip irrigation for crops.  It was SO interesting to go inside a working factory and see the people and machines working together.

After the service and oneg, we went back to the kibbutz and enjoyed a large family lunch with the entire Yaron family.  There was an endless supply of food of many types again - soup, fish, chicken, noodles, various veggies, salads, etc.  Plus desserts and fruit.  It just kept coming and coming.  And all very yummy.

We rested in the afternoon then it was Lag B'Omer.  There was a humungous medura with a potluck dinner and activities for the kids.  Micah and Jonah made bows and arrows out of sticks and string.  Such a wonderful and Israeli experience.  It was tons of fun.  Jonah also got play some pickup soccer with some of the kibbutz boys.

The next morning we left early for Tel Aviv.  We had two museums to visit.  First in the morning we went to the IDF museum which showcased many tanks, guns, and military history.  Very interesting.

We took a walk from the IDF museum to the old town of Yafo (Jaffa).  It was really unique walking along the beach and ending up at an old fashioned town with shops and restaurants.  There was a large shuk area and we purchased some souvenirs.  We also had some yummy inexpensive falafel there.  Our desserts (a fancy chocolate cake, chocolates, gelato, ice cream) probably cost more than our lunch!  We walked back to our car and drove to our next stop, the Yitzchak Rabin Center where we went to the museum.

It was the most powerful stop of our trip.  The museum is very well designed with an inner circle tracing Rabin's life history and outer circles following Israel's history.  There are over a hundred movies and since you are wearing a device around your neck, the soundtrack begins when you step close to the display.  I learned a lot and cried a lot of tears here.  Micah and Jonah comforted me which was very sweet.

Our final stop in Tel Aviv was Dizengoff Avenue where we had dinner at Haronson while Jonah got some pizza across the street.  My salad with chicken was very yummy there.  Unfortunately, when we got back to the car, we had gotten a ticket.  That was not a fun way to end our trip.  But it was an excellent experience overall and isn't stopping us from taking another trip this Shabbat.

Immediately after Shavuot we are going to Sfat, Rosh Hanikra, and HaKinneret, and I will describe it all in another blog post.

Friday Mark and I attended a 7 a.m. service of Women of the Wall for Rosh Hodesh at the Western Wall or Wailing Wall.  The Old City is about a half hour walk from our apartment.  The main reason that this is such an interesting experience is because the Wall currently operates as an Orthodox synagogue and the Women would like to pray in a manner that is decidedly non-Orthodox.  This has resulted in quite a conflict that includes court involvement.  Suffice it to say that I feel torn between two feelings.  While I would NEVER go into an Orthodox synagogue and demand to read Torah, I feel the Wall should not be only for the Orthodox.  The Wall belongs to all of us.  And that is why I supported the Women by praying with them.  So, the Women begin their service at the back of the women's section of the Wall, protected by armed guards.  Then when it is time for the Torah service, we all march from the Wall to a nearby area called Robinson's Arch.  You see a different section of the Wall here, and there are fences and construction items around, but the second half of the service is very beautiful with Torah reading, aliyot, celebrating simchas, and men and women praying together. (Gasp!)  At this point, we didn't need guards anymore.  The most interesting moment for me happened when the guard approached one of the women who were praying with the group at the Wall and asked her to change how she was wearing her tallit.  He explained that the court decided that they could wear the tallit if it was worn like a scarf or shawl, but not with the flipped over shoulders that only are worn with tallits.  I'll show you with photos:
Tallit as permitted, draped like a scarf over the shoulders.

Tallit as not permitted, worn around the shoulders and then flipped up and over each shoulder.

Anyway, she pretended not to hear him at first, then she moved into the middle of all the women instead of changing how she was wearing her tallit.  So very interesting.

Mark and I were at the front of the group for the march from the Wall to Robinson's Arch so you can see our picture on the Women of the Wall website.  You can also find more information there if you want to know more about the women and their monthly services.

I have decided to end this long post now and will talk about our day to day life more in another post.  Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. In your absence, Karen, it turns out we are planning a Women of the Wall program for Ruach. So you'll be able to add a lot to that.