Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shavuot and Another Trip

Though Shavuot gets overlooked quite a bit at home in the U.S., here it is a very big deal.  We enjoyed being hosted by a family with four sons from Boston.  Their cousin Michal, fresh from the army, was another guest we enjoyed talking to.  Another family from Philadelphia was there as well and we all ate a yummy dairy dinner, featuring cheesecake for dessert of course, outside after evening services at Yedidya, starting the dinner at 8:30 p.m.  That night, all around Jerusalem, there were many places a person could go to participate in all night study.  Mark chose Pardes and really enjoyed it. I went home with Micah and Jonah and we all got a good night's sleep.  In the morning thousands of people walk from wherever they are studying to the Western Wall and pray there.  Mark did this and then came home and went to bed.
After Shavuot, we went on another family tiyul.  We rented a car again, but were unable to rent a GPS this time because the store did not have any that worked.  So we used our printed directions from google and followed our maps which would have been fine except for some major construction just north of Haifa.  There was a bridge closed and we crawled along on Route 2 for literally 3 extra hours.  It was very very frustrating and tiring.  The result of the delay was that we did not get to go to the winery we had planned to visit.  Luckily we found a different one near Tiberias and went the next day to that one.
Finally, we got to Rosh Hanikra at the very northwest tip of Israel.  It is a such a beautiful place where the ocean meets cliffs and we saw a movie about some of the stories that happened there.
Beautiful Rosh Hanikra caves
After Rosh Hanikra, we drove to Tiberias where we checked into an old hotel called the Berger.  It was really quite nice, with a double bed for us and two separate single beds for the kids, a large refrigerator and a table with four chairs.  We did a ton of walking around Tiberias.  The first day, Thursday, we went to dinner at Avi's restaurant which gave us a large amount of very delicious food and then enjoyed a sound and light show called Tiberium right on the lake.  On Friday morning we ventured out of town to the Tabor winery where we enjoyed a delicious tasting and purchased a bottle as well.  We then came back to Tiberias and found a place to swim in the Kinneret which was delightful.  It was such a hot day and the water felt so cool.  I remembered that the water felt like silk on my skin when I swam there in 1994, and it felt just as nice in 2011.  Pure delight.  The "beaches" are just rocky inlets, but the view is stunning wherever we go in Tiberias. I really love it there.
Tiberias, city on the Kinneret
For Kabbalat Shabbat, we drove to Tzfat, another city on a hill.  The trip there was easy but the roads in the city are very twisty and confusing.  We had a difficult time locating the synagogues Mark wanted to see but we did run into the Bratslav synagogue which was like a palace and finally found the Beirav synagogue where we wanted to and did attend services.  The place was very crowded in both the men's and women's sections and in the men's sections, there was so much dancing and singing and clapping and joy.  In the women's section, we sang and one or two of us clapped and one or two of us tried to dance but we just didn't have the spirit that the men did.  I tried, believe me, but noone would join me.  After the service, we returned to Tiberias.
For Saturday morning services, we looked into (literally) two different shuls before going to Chabad which was well air-conditioned, thank goodness, but very lacking in ruach.  We left after the Torah service.  We returned to the hotel and rested quite a bit before beginning our trek back to Jerusalem.
Oh, while in Tiberias we visited some famous graves, those of Maimonides and Rabbi Akiva.  Unfortunately, I wasn't dressed for Orthodox synagogue so I felt very uncomfortable at them.  At Rambam's grave, a very big woman was speaking to me in Hebrew, giving me a gift from the Rabbanit Leah Kook who it seems is currently ailing and staying in the Eden Hotel in Tiberias.  It took many many sentences and repetition for me to figure out that I was supposed to say healing prayers for her in exchange for this gift.  At first she gave me a bouncy ball with a toy inside but I said "ani lo tz'rica" so she took it away and gave me a Tehillim keychain which is now holding my keys.  I saw these keychains at a store today for 2 shekels, about 60 cents.
I enjoyed our trip immensely.  Tiberias is a wonderful place to visit.

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