Today was a pleasant and mostly low key day; a nice break from a busy week. Yesterday evening I went to the synagogue for Shabbat evening services. My second week at the Belgrade shul, and I am already starting to feel like a part of the community. With another three weeks to go here, I hope to be a regular.
There I also met the Israeli national college basketball team, in town for Universiade 2009 here in Belgrade. At 6’4″, I am rarely in a crowd where I feel short, but surrounded by guys, some towering around 7′, I felt like a midget. After davening, I joined the team at a bar Chabad of Belgrade had rented out for dinner. Just about everyone was speaking exclusively in Hebrew. While I certainly could not follow all of the speeches (Israelis love to talk), I was thrilled to get the gist of just about everything.
By about 11, dinner was over and I made my way back to Manga where I promptly crashed. Up again at 8:45 this morning, I headed back to shul for Shacharit. Afterward I joined the Chabad rabbi, his wife, his mother, and two traveling yeshiva buchers for lunch at the Rabbi’s flat. Again, much of the conversation was in Hebrew, so more great practice for me.
Following lunch, the buchers and I walked around the old Jewish quarter centered on Jevrejska Street, literally “Jewish Street”. While very little is left from the once thriving neighborhood in the post-WWII period, many of the buildings still bear their original Hebrew inscriptions. It is an interesting place to visit if nothing else. Afterward, I accompanied the buchers back to their hotel where we had an extended discussion about politics here in Serbia, in the US, and Israel.
Finally, I made my way back to Manga for a quiet afternoon. Today was not a big one for my work, but who says every day has to be? It’s the weekend and Shabbat. I hope you all are enjoying it as much as I am.