My second Shabbat in Rechavia was very nice, mostly spent making new friends, seeing old ones, and desperately trying to beat the heat.
On erev Shabbat, I walked with my roommate and a number of her friends to Hamoshav Hagermanit (along Emek Refaim) to daven at Shira Hadasha. This is an ostensibly orthodox minyan which started up in 2002 which sought to give a much more significant leadership role to women in tefillah. Although they preserve the mechitza separating men from women, during Friday night tefillah, a woman leads Kabbalat Shabbat and a man leads Ma’ariv. The minyan has generated its share of controversy in the Orthodox world, but this has probably made it only that much more popular.
Last time I was there was probably five years ago, and they were meeting in a different, much smaller and more crowded and sfuffy space. Now they are now meeting in a huge, modern community center near the top of Emek Refaim with ample room and fully functioning A/C. They still fill up the room, which is the size of a small gymnasium, but there is now actually room to breathe. The davening is in the Carlebach style which I am now noticing is a real draw for Anglos, both olim and tourists alike.
In the evening, we went back to my apartment for a potluck dinner hosted by my roommate, who with a friend of hers who is visiting did most of the cooking. It was a lively crowd, we ate well, and all had a very nice time. Things wrapped up by around midnight and I got in a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, I went to a nearby synagogue, Beit Knesset Hanasi, meaning the Synagogue of the President. Really my sole reason for attending this particular synagogue was to get a good explanation for its name. As it turns out, it is fairly close to the President’s residence and so he, whoever was in the office at the time, used to daven there, although apparently not so often anymore according to the elderly gentleman who answered my question.
In the afternoon, I walked across town in the sweltering heat to Kiryat Moshe where a friend of mine now lives. My route there took me through Emek HaMatzlevah and Gan Sacher, past the Supreme Court and the Knesset, and over Sderat Menachem Begin, the main freeway running around the city, about 45 minutes in all. Our lunch conversation went all over the place from politics to Judaism to life in general. It was really nice to catch up with him. Walking home, I took an alternative route which swung me past the Science Museum, the Israel Museum, and the Botanical Gardens. By the time I got home, I was exhausted, a bit dehydrated, and schvitzing. A cold shower and a two hour nap later, I was feeling much better.
Today, I have a number of errands to which I must attend and many more phone calls to make. I have no formal meetings planned yet, but that could change as the day wears on. That said, I would be quite happy to spend the day catching up on my reading pushing the literature element of my research that much further. Next book in line: Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People, which is bound to be a controversial read. Either way, I am being productive.