1. IT RAINED ON FRIDAY A GOOD PART OF THE DAY! Now, back in Chicago, where I know there has been an endless supply of the wet stuff, here it has been sparse to say the least. However, Friday, the "Gishmei Bracha" (rains of blessing) began to descend on Israel. I can honestly say that I have never sat and just watched rain and thanked Hashem for it. Yet, here we were in the middle of Shabbat preparations and everything stopped to look at the first sustained rain of the season. It was actually an emotional moment as we watched what we have been davening for. (While we did get the rain, I heard a statistic today that was somewhat daunting...it will take 500 hours of rain to replenish the Kinneret!)
After the rain, and the sun came out, we saw a GORGEOUS FULL rainbow upon which we had the opportunity to say a Bracha.
(A beautiful view from our back yard prior to the rain and the rainbow after the rain)
2. There was a funny thing that occurred as a result of the rain and showed our "newness" in the country. All of the hot water in our building (and in most in Israel) is supplied by a "dood shemesh" or solar heating of water in the reservoir on the rooftop. When we went to take showers Friday, I was wondering why there was no hot water. Maybe, genius, BECAUSE THE SUN WASN'T OUT TO HEAT THE WATER! Made a mental note to myself that the next time it is cloudy for a significant part of the day,we need to throw the switch that manually heats up the water!
3. I have been asked a particular question lately MANY times that I figured I may as well mention here as well. "Do you enjoy taking busses or do you miss the freedom of having a car?" I have been asked this question DOZENS of times. My answer has actually changed over the past (nearly) four months. In the beginning, I definitely missed the freedom of going WHEN I wanted to, WHERE I wanted to and HOW I wanted to. However, over the past few months my perspective has greatly changed! Consider: I do not have to pay for gasoline, car insurance, maintenance, repairs, licenses and I also do not need to deal with the actual driving (which can be "difficult" at times). In addition, I have the freedom of using my time on the bus radically differently than when driving a car...I can learn, I can read, I can talk to my neighbor, I can simply enjoy the beautiful vistas...and no worries if the traffic is lousy, since I do not have to drive! Having said all that, I still think/hope/plan to get a car one day :)
4. Smachot: On Thursday this past week, Andy and I participated in another simcha. We went into Yerushalayim for a Bar Mitzva of twin boys (sons of Rabbi Akiva and Chanalee Stolper, grandchildren of Mr Lothar and Sue Kahn). It was SO nice to participate in yet another simcha but there was more to come. One of our new friends here in Mitzpe Nevo had a new grandson, and we were invited to the Shalom Zachor. It was so special to participate in our first Shalom Zachor in Israel, but the truth is that this one happened to have had SPECIAL significance, that I did not know before entering their home. The mother of the new boy gave birth in Shaare Tzedek Hospital a couple of days ago. That in and of itself was nothing out of the ordinary beauty of having a baby . But I learned that she had the baby in the very hospital where she was a patient in critical condition, after being injured in the Sbarro bombing on August 1, 2001! Whereas an Arab terrorist tried to take her life, instead she brought a life into this world. What an emotional moment at that table last night!
5. A friend of mine called me while we were on the bus (see above) on the way to the Bar Mitzva (see above) to tell me something he said, I would greatly appreciate. Barnea called me to tell me that he was standing in Rami Levi (a local grocery store chain), and an announcement came over the loudspeaker: "For those who still need to daven Mincha, there will be a Minyan in Aisle 4 in a few minutes." Yet another reason I love living in this country!
6. This Shabbat was stellar! Friday night, we ate at friends, had the Shalom Zachor and enjoyed the cool, crisp, night air on our brief walk home. In the morning, we walked about a half hour to a different Bet Kenesset (called Mussar Avicha) for a special Shabbat Olim. New Olim participated in the Tefilla and I had the opportunity to give a brief Dvar Torah at the Kiddush. We ate our Seudat Shabbat in the neighborhood of the Bet Kenesset, an area I have harldy been in since we moved here. (It is important to understand that we live in the Mitzpe Nevo neighborhood in Maale Adumim, and there numerous other neighborhoods. With 32,000--bli ayin hara--residents, this is not a small Yishuv! ) After Seudat Shabbat, I had my first real "test" of my use of Ivrit, as I taught a 45 minute Shiur to women. My subject was "V'Hasheina M'shubachat" ("...and sleep is praiseworthy") and I looked at various aspects of sleep in Halacha and Haskafa. I was very surprised at the very nice turnout--surprised because it was at 3:15 on Shabbat afternoon...and they should have been asleep! (which is why I actually chose the topic).
Well, I think that I have covered all that I wanted to for now. This week coming up is a busy one, and I am looking forward to getting started tomorrow morning. Hey, it's only six more days until Shabbat!