Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Holy Land, Friday - Sunday

In Israel - the universal day off is Friday. It is the eve of the Sabbath, and all who are practicing Jews, are preparing. (this also means that Sunday in Israel is a typical workday) On Friday, traffic is thick around Jerusalem, especially near the "Old City". In addition, the original streets in Israel were created to allow for donkey passing, NOT cars. Add to this the "incredible" driving by your average Israeli (yes - sarcasm implied), and you have got yourself some chaos.

It takes eons to get from point A to point B in Jerusalem. Because I did not finish my unpacking and ironing activities the night we arrived, I had to finish this up before we could attempt our trek out for the day.

Also, because we were beginning the Sabbath before 7 pm, we had to come back from wherever we were to bathe a family of six and dress as we do for our typical Sabbath weekend, as others do for Christmas and Thanksgiving, in time for the start of the Sabbath.

That being said, my original plan of going to the Kotel (The Wailing Wall or Western Wall) and also walking the Cardo, Rova and Old City, and maybe taking a walk to Geula and Meah Shearim where one can find beautiful gifts and Judaica, followed by a walk to town for , only the BEST Frozen Yogurt EVER, did not exactly come to fruition. Because, we obviously did not have enough time for ALL of this.

So our plan was to take a taxi to the Kotel and then return to the apartment.

The Kotel, also known as "The Wailing Wall" or "Western Wall" has a lot of significance. For the Jewish people, it is the last remaining portion of what was the wall that enclosed the "Holy Temple". There were two actually. The first was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. And it just so happens, that this night on the Hebrew calendar is exactly when both were destroyed. Tonight begins one of our BIG fast days to mark the destruction of the Holy Temples.

The Kotel also has significance for those who are not Jewish. Many people flock to the Wall, Jewish or not, to pray and insert notes of prayer into the cracks of the wall. In fact, Obama did just that, and unfortunately, someone removed his note and published its content, which is a big no-no. The reason we stand at the wall and pray, is because we believe, that right above the wall, where the Temple stood, and more specifically where the "Holiest of Holy" - the room that contained The Ark, once was, is the place that G-d's Spirit rests "so to speak" and our prayers ascend directly to G-d.

So our intention, was to stand there and Pray for a while, and take our time to reflect and think... But, have you ever stood at The kotel in the Summer??? Holy Heat!!! The sun beats down like you are standing under a blow torch. Maybe it will remind you how HOT, Hell can be, so that you pray harder. Well, we could not exactly take our sweet time and make small children stand in that heat, so we rushed it. But I think I got a few good words in.

"The sun's in my eyes. The sun's in my eyes..."

Either the sun is still in Ro's eyes or she prays with great intensity.

Bam's first trip to the Kotel. He looks thrilled.

Okay, not the best picture. But we were literally MELTING at this point.

Bobby (Grandma) helps us cool off at the fountain near the Kotel.

There is nothing like water play in a Country that has a SERIOUS water shortage.

Someone give this boy some water...

Dreaming of Air Conditioning...

So, that was our trip to the Kotel.

We returned home and prepared for the Sabbath.

Friday night, our entire family ate in the huge entrance way of an apartment building. We were approximately 50 people or so and ALL the food was cooked by my sister and nieces.

Saturday, I did not make it to the Synagogue or the yummy reception that followed after (because, while I was able to get the older kids ready and out with Hun, I had to nurse and get myself ready, and nurse some more, and, well, I made it to lunch).

Lunch, also for about 50 people was in my sister's apartment. And again, she and my nieces cooked all the food.

There was also a third meal in the evening at her apartment as well.

If you did not know by now, when Jews Celebrate, Jews chow down ...... A LOT!

On the Sabbath itself, we are not allowed to use cameras, so I have no pictures. However, after Sabbath ends, there is a ceremony called "Havdallah" that brings us back to the weekday.

The Sabbath itself was nice. We were able to catch up on sleep. All the little cousins played so nicely together (even though the American kids were now climbing gates and jumping from five foot ledges and running off to a playground at ten o'clock at night, which does not seem to phase my Israeli dwelling siblings). I wish I could have caught these interactions on camera, because it was so sweet to be together.


It was a beautiful weekend and a kick off to a great week. But it seems I have run out of time today, so I will save Sunday and more for future posts.

2 have shown Orah a little love:

Anonymous said...

K, this blog definitely needs a comment!! Holy heat is right, but I'd def love to be shvitzing my tuchus off to be at the Kosel.
Your sis must have a ginormous apt to be able to fit 50 bodies.
BTW, I hate Isreali cab drivers just as much as NY taxi drivers. They are either fearless or just dumb as donkeys, but either way, I'd cringe when I'd be in one of their cabs.
- Miss. S.

Julie said...

Hi! Remember me? Oh my goodness, I literally have not had time to open my computer long enough to blog.

I am begging for life to calm down!

This post was wonderful. I LOVE learning about your life and am moved by your descriptions of your celebrations and of Israel and of the Sabbath.

You must have baked. Wow,those little cheeks are pink.

OK, heading up on your blog to enjoy more of your journey.

OK, just noticed I am signed into the wrong's me wifemomnurse