It is now six weeks that we are here.
I signed off last week regaling you with how it felt to be here, watching and observing everyone as they prepare for Yom Kippur. Children in the streets, families preparing seudat hamafseket, shopping, etc. Everyone preparing for Yom Kippur in some capacity. I will now apprise you of how the actual day of Yom Kippur was for us here. Before I begin, please understand that as the daughter of a chazan (a Cantor), I have a real appreciation for, and keen understanding of, the tefillot of the Yamim Noraim, and as such, I also have strong preferences, and perhaps expectations of how a baal tefillah for these most awesome of days should lead the tefillot for his congregation. I mean no disrespect for or to anyone; I only express my opinion, (strong though it may be).
Having said all that, we left for Kol Nidrei in the ‘Happy Minyan’ aka Carlebach Minyan in Eitan’s school in Mitzpeh Navo, about twenty minute walk from where we currently live. Mind you, we did not necessarily seek out this minyan, however the price was right (free) and the scheduled baal tefillah, Shlomo Katz has a beautiful melodious voice which we thought would be very appropriate and enjoyable for Yom Kippur. We arrived to the minyan prepared for a beautiful davening and prepared to be spiritually uplifted somewhat. At least I was. But unfortunately, I found the davening to be less than inspiring. There was too much banging on the bimah, too much ‘excitement’ for my taste. It’s not that there was a lack of kavanah; Certainly that is not the case. I would never profess my perception of kavanah on anyone, nor would I dare ever say someone did or did not have kavanah while davening. That is an extremely personal experience. But I found that with all the banging, all the ‘cheering’ was a new and unfamiliar experience for us. There wasn’t that awesome feeling I used to get when I listened to my father’s Kol Nidrei or when a truly inspiring Baal Tefillah in West Hempstead would daven Kol Nidrei. The Rabbi’s speech was also not inspiring and not appropriate for Yom Kippur, in my opinion. But, ok, I thought, tomorrow will be better. Well, that was not to be. So as not to belabor the point, I guess you can tell that I was not that enthused with davening at that minyan, or Yom Kippur davening at all here, and I guess I will have to learn to modify my expectations and treasure the memory of my father’s davening. I will keep his melodies, his voice within me always. Meyer did enjoy the davening and did feel inspired somewhat. Michal and Chezky had mixed feelings overall; sometimes inspired, sometimes less so. But to have them with us for Yom Kippur and Sukkot is wonderful!!! We also were treated to having Chezky’s cousin Yocheved with us which enhanced our Yom Tov.
Tuesday Michal and Chezky traveled to Tzfat for the day and really enjoyed themselves. They bought some pictures for their apartment and simply enjoyed the Tzfat atmosphere. I returned to my ulpan for the last two days of class before the break for the chagim. I am enjoying class immensely and am learning a tremendous amount. I hope to practice my Hebrew language oratory skills with you all when you come to visit. (Hint Hint). Wednesday my mother and David arrived from the States for Sukkot and we are so excited. Haven’t seen them yet but we look forward to spending time with them soon. Michal and Chezky went on a tour to Chevron with Simcha Hochbaum and our nephew Dani and all truly enjoyed. On Thursday, Michal, Chezky, Dani and Eitan all went again on a Simcha Hochbaum tour of the southern excavations and old city tour of Jerusalem through the Muslim quarter. They were amazed.. They walked near Har Habayit.. They visited Kotel Hakatan… yet, they were filled with anger that Jews are restricted from visiting Har Habayit, yet others walk freely… they felt disappointment in that we as Jews don’t have that freedom. What a dichotomy in This dichotomy in Israel between what we feel and what we are able to do is reason to ponder life here. And they say the Arabs feel subjugated!!
In any event we prepare now for Sukkot. I’ve spent all day cooking and preparing while Meyer worked this morning, Chezky, my nephews Avi and Dani went to Mea Shearim to choose their Lulavim and Etrogim. Yechezkel and Eitan finished preparing the sukkah, which we brought from the States. We had to build the sukkah on our third floor mirpeset and not on our lawn (small garden) due to a cat infestation. (don’t ask…crazy neighbor). It will definitely be different and most interesting, and very hot. And, we only keep two days yom tov!! That will be strange. But as my cousins have pointed out repeatedly, I’ll have no problem adjusting to that. It is quite extraordinary to see and experience the buzz of excitement here with all the preparations for sukkot. Here in Maaleh Adumim, palm trees are trimmed, their leaves and branches sold as schach, and the proceeds benefit the city. A win win.
It is wonderful to be able to speak to friends and family who are visiting for the chag and we hope to see you if we can. To those who are not visiting at this time, we miss you loads. Please have a chag sameach, and as always, I close with wishes and prayers for good health, happiness, parnasa, and of course, freedom for our captives. Chag Sameach and shana Tova.
With love to one and all,