Shabbat ended about 2 hours ago, and after replying to MANY emails and Facebook messages, I am finally getting around to writing in the blog!
From beginning to end, the first Shabbat here was STELLAR. You truly understand the meaning of "Me'en Olam Ha'Bah" (A part of the World to Come) when experiencing your first Shabbat as an Oleh.
Let's begin with Friday night...while the weather was very hot during the day, it began to cool off some, as we went to Shul for Mincha and Kabbalat Shabbat. With about 100 people davening together and singing many beautiful tunes, I was completely caught up in the serenity of the welcoming of Shabbat. Looking around at a large area filled with people happily greeting the Shabbat Queen...it was almost surreal. I like very much that there was a Dvar Torah after Kabbalat Shabbat...!
We ate at some (new) friends, the Leichmans along with another couple whom we had just met that evening. By the time we reached the end of the meal, Zemirot and Birkat HaMazon, I think we were ALL beginning to get very sleepy. It had seemed like we were here already for a long time, yet it was only
3 1/2 days since we had landed.
After some much needed sleep, we went back to the same Shul for Shacharit. (A word about the many Shuls available here another time). While the tefilla itself was also quite beautiful, there was one moment that is etched into my mind for eternity: I was given the honor of Shlishi (the third aliya to the Torah). After my aliya, the entire congregation sang: וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם (This Pasuk refers to the return of Jews to the Homeland). It was an incredible experience...I have never teared up after an aliya! The excitement in the air that SEVEN new families had moved to Mitzpe Nevo (the name of the area in Maale Adumim where we live) was palpable. Each one that was there that morning who had just made Aliya received the same warm welcome from the pulpit and with singing.
Our Seudat Shabbat was at the home of Yoni and Debbie Lehrfield. A great time and a chance to catch up and to learn more about the area.
After an early Mincha, a good long nap, learning and talking, we ate Seudah Shlisheet with our hosts, the Goldenbergs. Once again, I can not say enough about the CHESSED they have shown us in our stay in their home. I can only hope that anyone who makes Aliya has hosts HALF as good when they land, if they need to stay with someone!
Our Shabbat ended with an unusual (for us) Sefardi Havdala...it was so interesting a way to end Shabbat.
Now, to experience our first Sunday/Monday here...meaning, of course, that Sunday is the first workday of the week. I am off to Yerushalayim to take care of a lot of business and Andy is goiing to be in our home (see last posting).
PS--Here is a link to an interview in Ivrit I did for the magazine B'Sheva: http://www.inn.co.il/Besheva/Article.aspx/8408 I am quoted about 3/4 of the way through the article.
Am trying to pin down the link to the pictures in the Jerusalem Post (there were 2 over 2 days) and will advise.
If you missed the arrival ceremonies, go here to see this incredible event: http://www.nbn.org.il/live/