I’m finally getting around to writing about last Shabbat, less than 24 hours before the next begins.
I was excited to spend my first real Shabbat of the trip at Kehilat Zion, which I had been to and wrote about last year, describing it as the best service of my life. Led by Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum, Zion is a synagogue unlike any other-it’s officially affiliated with the Masorti (Conservative) movement, but the community is made up of both secular and religious people, as well as both Ashkenazim and Sephardim. In addition to their unique prayer and music, they are heavily involved with interfaith work. (On a side note, I emailed Rabbi Tamar earlier this week to ask if we could meet to discuss Judaism and community. I received a reply this morning and I’ve floated all day).
I was joined with some fellow CY students, and we made our way to my former neighborhood of Baka, where Zion is located. Everything felt familiar-the JCC the community is located in, the collection of plastic chairs, and of course the ruach. Although I couldn’t remember every tune from last year and there were some new ones, it felt like home and I couldn’t have been happier to return. The room that the service is held in was packed by the end, with people having to stand because there were no more chairs. During one of the songs, the sun burst into the room accompanied by a swift breeze, which made it feel as if I were in a different world.
After the service, I went back home to Nachlaot to go with Tracey to dinner at the house of her friend Rivki, who teaches the Torah study class I went to last Saturday. They are Haredi, a type of Judaism very foreign to my own, but they were warm and welcoming, and it didn’t hurt that the food was delicious (isn’t it amazing what Jews can do without dairy?).
I spent Saturday morning at Shira Hadasha, the shul I had meant to go to last week. Apart from the Western Wall (which is not a synagogue, something I wish the government understood…), I have never davened with a mechitza before. A mechitza is some type of partition used to separate men and women in synagogues. I disagree with the premise of this concept, but I will still go to a shul that uses one (as long as it’s left-right and not front-back. I won’t sit behind the men where I can’t see anything). Overall, I did not so much mind the presence of the mechitza, but I did find myself often distracted by trying to see what was happening on the men’s side rather than focusing on the service. The service was lovely, if a bit long.
Afterwards, I had Shabbat lunch at the home of a fellow student. I didn’t realize how far away from my neighborhood he lived, so I was in for a 2 mile walk home, all uphill and in direct sunlight. An hour later I made it home, albeit with some new blisters.
I’m going to try to catch up and blog about classes and what I’ve been up to in the evenings, so hopefully I’ll work on that over Shabbat (no, this trip hasn’t turned me shomer Shabbos).