I spent this past Shabbat staying with good friends in Nahlaot near the center of town. This allowed me to do two wonderful things, 1) spend some great time with good friends who are unfortunately leaving soon to return to the United States, and 2) spend quality time with my family that is in town visiting this week (aunt, uncle, cousins, and kids).
The weekend went a bit like this: I met up with my friends Erev Shabbat to drop my things off at there place. From there I made my way to Rehavia where my family is staying. We met up there with my cousins who now live in Efrat and made our way to a minyan located in a really beautiful outdoor venue. It is a garden and playground of sorts surrounding what my cousin’s wife tells me is a music hall. I’ll have to check it out again during the week. It’s not too far from where I will be living. The davening was in a lively Carlebach style led by my cousin who was clearly and completely in his element. From there we made our way back to their apartment for dinner. Late in the evening, I walked back to my friends’ place to crash for the night.
The next morning, i made my way to a nearby synagogue. While there are synagogues everywhere in the neighborhood, if you don’t know where you’re going, they can be hard to find. After stopping one gentleman on the street, he was kind enough to direct me to where he was davening. It was a pretty standard black hat Ashkenaz shul, but since it started at the “late” hour of 9, at least I wasn’t late. Once shul was out, I made my way back to friends and we went to an outdoor lunch in a rose garden in Talbiyeh. One of their friends was celebrating the second anniversary of having made aliyah… I was surprised (as usual at this point) to find that I knew a number of people there already. Only in Jerusalem.
Later on in the afternoon, my friend and I took a nice long walk around the neighborhood. We stopped in at Mahane Yehudah to see just how empty the place looks on Shabbat. It’s pretty odd to see the deserted alleys which just 24 hours before were packed with bodies and in the next 24 hours will be again. On the way back to his place we ran into my cousin and his wife heading back to my aunt and uncles’s, so I joined them for seudah shlishit. After havdalah, I made my way back to my friends’ place, and we all headed down to a local brew pub for the evening. All said, a great weekend.
Today was back to ulpan. In class, we reviewed binyan hitpa’el, the reflexive verb form, which we had not yet official covered. We also read an article from an Israeli business magazine about efforts to “rebrand” the country’s image in light of constant negative international publicity. As always, it is very interesting to (be able to) read these things in Hebrew. We also had another extra lecture with a teacher who analyzed a poem about Jerusalem by Yehuda Amichai with us. She also gave a brief lesson on the history of the name of Jerusalem and ways in which it has been depicted in verse.
The afternoon and evening has been pretty typical: constant studying. I suppose this makes up for a fun weekend. Only a week and a half to go…