Monday, June 27, 2011

A trip to the shuk, some surprise (and not-so-surprise) run-ins (not with the law), a lemon tree, and a concert

Friday: woke up at a nice, decent time, and Amir came over to hang out and see the apartment. We were here for a while, then I went to meet Leah at the shuk to do our Friday veggies shopping (which means first walking through the entire shuk and getting an idea for what prices are like, and then going through again to find the cheapest spots).

Leah had been there for a while, and head to head out soon, because she had to take a bus to our apartment, unload groceries, catch a bus back to the Central Bus Station, and then one to her friend's house--all on the same transfer. I spent a long while there after she left just wandering around, enjoying the crowd of people all out to buy fresh produce before shabbat, the tourist groups, the Chicago Write On group I ran into (Ron's brother looks exactly like him! And they were wearing the hats, of course...), and of course find spots to get 7 onions for a shekel (30 cents) and other quite cheap produce. All of a sudden, this guy in a trucker hat and big sunglasses gave me a huge bear hug; only after I made him take off his sunglasses did I realized it was Daniel, a friend from the mechina. He was on his way to meet a whole gang of mechinistim who were meeting up on Ben Yehuda street, so when I was done with my shopping I trekked over to the ice cream shop they were at and saw a whole host of mechina friends I hadn't yet seen.

I had intended to go to Haifa for the weekend, to stay with my friend Ofir, but the army surprised his unit by making them stay on the base for Shabbat, so I didn't. Sam's family has generously extended an open invitation to their house for Shabbat meals, but I wanted to try something a little gutsy: take Shira Chadasha up on the offer it makes at the end of every Kabbalat Shabbat Friday night service to have guests hosted by synagogue members. [Oh, and ran into Josh Bloomberg on my way there]. Only guess what? Just my luck that in the announcements (which they usually read in Hebrew and then translate to English, but this one was made only in Hebrew) they said, "guys, we're really short on hosts for meals in the summer. This shabbat, for example, we have no one signed up to host. So if you've "forgotten" to sign up, please send me an email this week!" Imagine the thoughts running through my head: where am I going to eat? I don't actually know where anyone lives! Okay, I guess I could defrost some pita... That sounds pretty miserable." Trying to be Israeli (or at least act like it), I went up to the woman who had made the announcements and asked her, in Hebrew, "look, I know you said there were no hosts, but I was wondering if you could find someone...?" After half-asking a person, she said no. So I decided to play the American card, and went up to another woman who looked like she kind of knew how things work there.... I said "I'm wondering if anyone is hosting for meals tonight?" And she gave me a big hug, asked if I was "just one" and said, "You'll be my guest tonight!" Naturally, the woman is none other than Tova Hartman, founder of Shira Chadasha, and one of the biggest and most important names in bringing feminism to Orthodox Judaism. We made an easy connection, especially because the other family having dinner at their house is a Chicago family--whose daughter not only knows DD, but was also in the same class at CJDS as my cousin!

Moving on to Saturday I woke up too late for shul, so instead I went to the park across the street to start reading Start-Up Nation in preparation for Saul Singer's (co-author) lecture to the Shalem interns. It's a beautiful spot to sit and read, if you don't get easily distracted by five-year-old Israeli boys playing soccer with each other and little girls scooting around on "balance bikes" in their shabbat dresses. But a nice Shabbat scene, that one could easily confuse with the famous "Sunday in the Park with George" painting that hangs in a gallery in the Art Institute of Chicago. After a few hours of reading I headed up to the house where I had babysat--the grandparents had invited me for Shabbat lunch ("provided you don't mind lots of children running around")--well, lots of children meant 7 (all under the age of six), which is less than half the number of grandchildren they have. It was quite a nice lunch, and I'm always intrigued to see the way people interact with their families as opposed with their friends and acquaintances (ie: I thought the sarcasm and nudnikking, etc. between siblings was supposed to stop sometime around the point when everyone is in/finishing college, but that's not necessarily the rule...).

When I got back to the apartment, I met up with some friends from the mechina. We hung out at the apartment and at a nice cafe nearby, and then later that night I went into "the city", where I had another not-so-surprise run-in with WOFI (Mitch Fogelson!), Billy Schoenburg (working on a new album!) and Joel Pachefsky--and a former camper of mine, who I only recognized because he was wearing a big OSRUI sweatshirt. Waiting for the bus back to the apartment, I realized that it was a unique chance to take the number 4, as I knew that there was a stop literally outside the door of our apartment (I'd never taken it the other direction, because I didn't know where it went).

Sunday meant the end of the weekend, but certainly not the end of the fun. It was sort of a lazy day at work, since our meetings were cancelled. But I got to read a lot, and the lecture with Saul Singer was quite interesting. It sort of reminded me of the type of environment I was in at the mechina--intimate, questions accepted and encouraged, and real answers expected. Sam, Leah, and I made plans to go to Adriel's after see, our washing machine is quite smaller, and Leah hadn't done laundry in the month she'd been here and Sam and I were both accumulating quite a pile, as well. But we were also going to cook there (our kitchen also does not have a working oven).

I'd walked back from downtown one time with Adriel, so I knew what the traffic circle by his house looked like. Luckily, I'd also gotten lost on my way to Saturday lunch, which allowed me to realize that that very traffic circle was in a place I actually knew how to navigate to. We got to his house, and the first thing we noticed was the beautiful lemon tree, heavy with dangling fruit ready to be picked. As soon as we got the first load of laundry in the machine and the potatoes in one pot and lentils in another, we set outside to pick them. After climbing in the tree proved not-so-effective, and actually quite dangerous (who knew lemon trees had thorns!?), Sam decided to whack the tree with a broom, and Leah would catch them as they fell.

Then he realized that shaking the tree would work better, and a heavy rain of lemons cascaded down, exploding open upon impact with the Jerusalem-stone ground.

We collected around 33, I think, and used all the exploded ones to make lemonade (I will not provide details about water: sugar ratios. That's simply unnecessary...).

We ate a delicious dinner and Adriel's grandparents were, I believe, thoroughly impressed by the wafting smells when they returned to the house.

As we waited for the last of the loads of laundry (not quite. We actually left one in the dryer for Adriel to bring to Shalem in the morning) to come out of the dryer, we watched the beginning of Toy Story 3 with Ben&Jerry's ice cream (with raspberries and blueberries on top, of course!) at a volume appropriate to the "simultaneous tsunami and hurricane" occurring in his house at the time.

Monday: a relatively normal day, except that the evening was occupied by a free chamber concert at the Jerusalem Theater given by the Carmel Quartet, the quartet in which my tutoree/babysittee's father is the violist. For those who are interested (Gideon, Grandma), the pieces were Michael Haydn's String Quintet in C Major (this concert had a guest "second viola"), Paul Ben-Haim's String Quintet (the Israeli Premiere. Yoel said that the piece has only been performed once before, and that his Quartet has sole rights to make a recording of it!), and Dvorak's Strig Quintet in E flat major Op. 97. The concert was actually being recorded to be broadcast later on radio, so find it and listen for me clapping--it's extra-loud!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Abby. Julie and Allen say hello. Tristan would too, but he doesn't really know you.