Saturday, August 22, 2009

In Jerusalem

I had thought to order posts chronologically to form a cohesive narrative of events, but my attempts to do so are futile. So I'm going totally non linear.

The City
It reminds me of Manhattan in the '80's, before gentrification. A little bit TriBeCa, a little bit of the east Village, a little bit of midtown - times square especially. It pulses with restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, people selling their wares. And on Shabbat it is, to borrow a phrase from Leonard Cohen "dead as heaven on a Saturday Night." An ironic description since on Saturday night the city wakes from its sabbath slumber as if in answer to Isaiah's charge in this week's Haftarah "התעוררי התעוררי קומי ירושלם" - "Awaken, awaken, rise up, Jerusalem." We read this Haftarah in Shul this morning when we davened at the IMPJ affiliated Har-El synagogue next to the Bezalel Artists' house on Shmuel haNagid Street.

This is what happens on Shabbat Morning at Har El - More P'sukei d'Zimrah than in typical American Reform congrregations, but fewer than in Conservative. Morning Blessings are read as follows - the Shaliach Tzibbur reads a blessing, the Congregation says Amen to that blessing and then reads the next blessing to which the Shaliach Tzibbur says Amen. Thus the roles of reader and respondent are passed between the Shatz and the Congregation. The Torah Service includes seven aliyot, maftir, and haftarah, with additional honors of lifting the Torah and dressing the Torah. The service is kept to about an hour by the use of the triennal reading cycle, and is followed by a kiddush, wherein the person making motzi washes the hands prior to doing so and the bread is salted. I had the honor of lifting the Torah, and Morgan had the honor of dressing it. I was also asked to make motzi, and did so, grateful that I had the handwashing prayer in my head.

There are some restaurants and clubs that don't necessarily wait until Havdallah to open. They cater to secular Israelis and may serve things that put them outside of eligibility for a heksher. Seafood is not uncommon, but pork seems very unusual. Smoked goose breast seems to be used in its place. People with seafood allergies would be well advised to seek out a Heksher when dining out, because it is a guarantee that there can be no contamination from shellfish. How we became aware of this is left as an exercise for the readers imagination.

I have been asked about cigarette smoke. What we have found is that most places prohibit smoking indoors, and provide generously for it out of doors. Smoke tends not to linger near the ground here, but is pretty quickly lifted away, making proximity to smokers less problematic than we thought.

We went for an evening walk in Independence Park and as we were walking back up to the hotel, were invited into a Judaica shop by a vendor. We ended up getting a fair price on the earrings, paying about 20 NIS less than the originally quoted price, and they really do pick up the blue in Morgan's eyes quite nicely.

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