Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shabbat in Jerusalem & a Burkey Tekes Hashba'a

Shabbat in Jerusalem in September. Simply writing those words, or better yet speaking them out loud, feels marvelous. Experiencing such a shabbat, with the cool wind, the coming holidays, and crowds of peach fuzzed rookie soldiers and students, never gets old. Especially when you have a chance to spend the Shabbat with your parents, as I did on September 12.

Shabbat passed quickly. We enjoyed a divine carrot cake, broke bread with neighbors who have named each of their children after fallen soldiers or terror victims (like Alex Singer), and even found time to practice yoga courtesy of my mother's recent obsession with the meditative practice.

Saturday night was time for the first selichot prayer, a nightly ritual of special penitential prayers recited in the days leading up to Rosh Hashana and Yom HaKippur. With my attention focused on gibushim and my enlistment in November, I have not given as much thought to the core holidays of Jewish tradition like I would prefer. Selichot are designed to change that, though during late night selichot in the HaNasi Synagogue in Jerusalem, my thoughts drifted back to my college years and the small group of guys and girls that would gather every night during the most difficult stretch of school for the hour of extra evening prayer.

Before returning to kibbutz early on Monday morning, I watched Adrian Peterson stomp all over the Browns in the opening day of the NFL season. I also took a lovely walk through the breezy byways of the Arab shuk, with every face bringing back vivid memories of Egypt and Syria. The faces and memories reminded me how fond I am of Arab society, an affection I never really shared twelve months ago.

The reason I stayed an extra day in Jerusalem, however, was to attend the tekes hashba'a of Nechemya Burkey. Nechemya's family left such a compelling example of whole hearted hospitality on me that from my first (and second, third, forth...) visit five years ago, I decided there and then I needed to make aliyah so I too could create a home where I could practice the same degree of hospitality. I am not there yet. But with the new year on the horizon, I am certainly closer than ever before.

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