In Jerusalem there are many fascinating shuls of all different stripes to explore and experience. There are boundary pushing or redefining Orthodox places, there are true Israeli Conservative (Masorti) congregations, and all sorts of hip or rocking or spiritual or Chassidic or . . . like no where else in the world!
On a less exciting note, I have yet to find a shul in Jerusalem that provides the quality of childcare on Shabbat morning as we do at Ohr Shalom – and I have never missed it more.
Here we have all these incredible opportunities but our children are too young, or at least too out of culture. Israel children of Shayna, Nadiv and Maital’s ages do not sit through services, they run around outside. It is the culture. As safe as it may be or at least seem to Israeli parents, our children do not speak the language, are not with their friends, don’t know their way around, and I believe are too young.
So what to do on Shabbat morning? I could go to shul and Jen could stay with the kids, or vice versa. We could split the morning into halves.
Or we could do what we did this morning – have a nice quiet, Shabbat morning at home. It was wonderful – absolutely Shabbat, but absolutely anything like what we could experience at home!
About 11:30 AM, when it was already hot, we headed over to our friend’s Eli and Adina’s house for Shabbat lunch.
Eli and I were friends in college and roommates at Hebrew U. Eli made aliyah after we graduated college, and it was tempting to join him! They also have three kids.
When G-d created Shabbat with words like menuchah (rest) and simchah (joy) this is the kind of day G-d had in mind. The kids played great! Sure, a little rough patches, a few bumps and bruises, even some blood (nothing serious thank G-d), but at the end of the day Shayna wanted to spend the night, and Nadiv and Maital were smiling with no gas whatsoever left in the tank.
And that was the kids. The grownups had even more fun, and no blood.
Eli and Adina are wonderful, fascinating people. And Eli and I have been friends for over twenty years. We caught up, told stories, shared growing pains – and ate a lot!
We sat in their living room from about noon until the time Shabbat went out, about 8:30 PM, not wanting to leave.
We were even joined by a lovely couple, Rabbi Adam and Lynn Frank. Rabbi Frank was in the first ordination group at the University of Judaism and is not the Rabbi of the Masorti (Conservative) congregation in the center of Jerusalem. He and I know each other a bit from our overlap in Los Angeles. It was wonderful getting to spend time with them as well.
How to summarize such a magnificent date? I don’t know. I couldn’t do it. Only I know is when we talk about wanting to delay havdalah to extend the joy of Shabbat these are the sorts of days when that sense is most palpable!
Of course the downside, at least during the winter when these days extend the longest, is that our children did not get to sleep until past 9:00 PM – only 2-3 hours past their regular bedtimes.
However much we pay for this aveirah on Sunday, if days like this instill within our children lifelong loving memories of Shabbat and/or a desire to experience a Shabbat like this again, then it is worth, literally, what tomorrow may bring.
Shavua tov. Have a wonderful and blessed week.