Day 6

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Shabbat in Jerusalem

Day Six - Friday July 8th - - Yom Shabbat

We woke up early to go to the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. This is an Orthodox temple that was recommended by Joan as an interesting service with beautiful singing. She was right. There were two cantors there, both, literally like Pavarotti! The chanting from each was operatic and majestic. I was literally “blown away” by the kavannah these cantors exuded. There was an all men’s choir which was also wonderful. The temple has a beautiful sanctuary, they had 18 torah scrolls (by my count), the bima was in the center of the shull, the women sat upstairs, and actually have what appears to be a good view – I never went up there, so I’ll have to corroborate that with Amy Beth.

No pictures were 
taken on Shabbos

Daniel and I sat together, the service was extremely long, over 3½ hours! I thought that was a bit excessive, but again the cantatorial talent was like none other that I’ve ever seen including New York and Baltimore.

We bumped into Marci and Michael again and shared a few moments after temple was over.  Where else can you bump into someone, three times in a week - no less, without trying!

I learned that Daniel has also recently converted to Judaism. I would have never guessed, he looks so Jewish! He was studying to be a priest in the seminary in Baltimore (I believe). He started to gravitate towards Jewish scholars and then towards Jewish books. He was drawn by his own scholarly soul searching to Judaism. He really seemed to fit the concept of being a part of the 11 lost tribes who’s neshama feels drawn towards Judaism because a Jewish Neshama always yearns for torah. He also knew Mike Boehling at the seminary.

We went back to the hotel, took the Shabbos elevator up to our room and then enjoyed a four hour shabbos nap! I never knew what a "shabbos elevator" was much less heard of one until Menachem’s concert of which “Shabbos Elevator” was one of the big hits. It goes all the way to the top floor, and then comes down to the bottom, floor by floor, all automatically. You don’t touch any buttons. I am curious why this is any more halachically observant than riding a bus. The bus also goes to every stop automatically without interaction. If the argument is that you have to pay for the bus, then consider shabbos buses which do not charge, or a ride in a car with a friend. It was always my understanding that you can’t ride because you are “using” the energy and causing the car/bus/elevator to work a bit harder since you are riding. Wouldn’t this still be the case? I will have to ask the rabbi about this one.

After our siesta, we woke, got dressed and went down to Ben Yahuda street where we bought some nice art from Danny Boy, the third shop on the right from the top of Ben Yahuda towards Jaffa Street. He took the deal OK (24 shekels down from 28 shekels) but you could tell he was a real dealer.

I ate some pizza from Big Apple pizzeria which was delicious, and Amy Beth had a shawarma, which I don’t think she really enjoyed. We then met up with Judy Crocker and walked Ben Yahuda street to Jaffa Street and made a right. We saw some Chabadnicks setting up for some kind of concert, and figured we would come back. We passed Kippa Man, I thought that was cute name, guess what he sold?

We then passed a Sabbaro pizza joint that reminded us of the bombing in Jerusalem several years ago. Actually, it was the original establishment but it was relocated (from Jaffa and King David Street) down the street closer to Jaffa and Ben Yahuda Street. We all split a bar of chocolate and found ourselves back at Jaffa and Ben Yahuda Street where the Chabadnicks (who we thought were going to perform) were packing it all up after only 20 minutes! What a short set! We also saw a pretty mediocre orthodox Jewish “break dancer!” Not quite what you’ll see back in the states, but everyone looked on and watched.

We continued our search for a shofar. We checked several places but none had the price or the quality as Danny Boy’s. We went back to him and I literally blew on every shofar in the store until I found the one that I liked. We haggled a bit on the price, but in the end got a great deal, $60 for a long beautiful shofar! Afterwards we took the walk home.

I started to wonder how the Jews and the Palestinians will ever achieve peace. Everyone here is bargaining and looking out for their own interests. Even between me and Danny Boy (he was Jewish) we had a hard time working out compromise. We walked in, “you want shofar? I normally sell this for $140 but for you, first customer of the week, $70, put the money on the table. Thank you for support Israel (slightly broken English). Baruch Hashem! (kissing his pinsed hands and looking up to the sky) Start my week off with good sale!”

“I’ll give you $50,” I said, not really knowing if that would be a good deal or not, but entertaining the thought of negotiation. Now, Danny Boy’s tone gets more serious. “Come! Support!” I reiterated, “$50.” “$65!” We start to walk out, he offers $60. We kindly say no. Later in the evening when we return, he starts back at $70. I said, “but you offered $60 before.” He said, “that was when you were first customer of the week” - we did buy the first time, just not the shofar. We ended up getting it for $60 but it was a struggle and he didn’t seem totally pleased.

Thought: The issue is compromise. The Arabs and Israeli’s are so used to this type of bargaining that it is difficult to step outside of themselves and truly put themselves in the other man’s shoes to understand his needs come to an understanding. It’s all about take, take, take. Not that I feel that Israelis need to give more to the Arabs, but this attitude makes it difficult to sit down at a bargaining table and see the other side.

On the way back, we had a nice conversation with Judy regarding her conversion. She explained to us, “imagine being nervous every time you walk into a church.” She never felt comfortable with the Christian religion. She said the family had mixed reactions, some supportive and some not as much, but she is the oldest child in the family, and she said that “Judy does what Judy wants to!”  We love spending time with her.

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