Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

The week of Sukkot, plus…

A lot happens in Jerusalem during Sukkot. There’s no school (for the children nor for the yeshiva students), so it’s really a big holiday. Aside from the sukkahs we build, and the crazy Christmas connections (see my previous post), the city’s also abuzz with events, parties, learning opportunities, and more.

There was a food fair, which boasted 40 food vendors, representing the 40 years of a “re-unified Jerusalem.” We had fun drinking beer and choosing our meat (the tandoori chicken was amazingly tasty, the Chinese food not so much), before we went to watch the apathetic cheerleaders on stage, followed by a dance competition for members of the audience. It was all kind of a waste of the 10 sheqel entry fee until we found the dried fruit. Oh so tasty, amazing, dried fruit. We bought a lot of it, and will make liquor with the dried kiwis and lychees.

There was the much advertised, highly hyped Jerusalem civic “sukkah-riah” (a combination of the words for sukkah and candy).Unfortunately, it was not built out of candy. Nor was there metric buttloads of candy being doled out to all of us, as other media reports had promised. So sad, so disappointing. [Pictures form the week of Sukkot here.]

There was the tasty pizzas (with sourdough crusts) that we baked and ate in the balcony sukkah at our friends’ apartment. There was much drinking, a lot of fresh fruit chopped and blended to add to the drinking (fresh pomegranate juice and vodka? oh yes!), meals in sukkahs, long conversations, walking to and fro… And trips to the shuk. [Pictures from the sukkahs here.]

There was also the Christian Zionist parade through Jerusalem. I think this might deserve its own post, but I’m writing here now, so this will have to be the place. Wow. c_IMG_1942.JPGThe background is that 6,000-7,000 Christian Zionists from around the world come to Jerusalem during the “Feast of Tabernacles,” ie Sukkot. They do bible study, tour the country, and have this parade. Their pilgrimage/conference is one of the largest tourist money makers for Jerusalem each year. So the parade was basically a bunch of the Israeli big companies (the banks, utilities, post office) then the delegations from each country. Kelly called it the “Christian Olympics,” because they all marched behind signs boasting their countries’ names and flags. There were contingents from every continent except Antarctica. Irish, USAmerican, Canadian, German, Zimbabwean, Brazilian, Chinese, Papuan, New Zealanders, Estonians, and more. Many of whom carried (and blew) shofars as they marched. Many of whom wore t-shirts telling us that Jesus (Yeshua) loves Israelis/Jews. They’re not legally allowed to proselytize while in Israel, so aside form declaring their love of Israel, they also had a lot of messages from Psalms (exalting Israel) and Ruth (“your people shall be my people, your G!d shall be my G!d”). The latter I didn’t really understand. In the book of Ruth, that’s said to Naomi when Ruth declares that she doesn’t want to return to her nation, but rather wants to stay with Naomi and become a Jew. So were the Christian Zionists saying that they want to convert to Judaism? Another thing that was disturbing about the parade were the missionaries. In one of the groups, I believe it was the Ugandans, there were two tall, white, thin, modestly dressed people walking at the back of the group. It was obvious to us that they were missionaries. I was amazed – I didn’t realise that it was still an acceptable practice to go to Africa and convert people to Christianity. It seems very… several decades ago. After 2 hours, we were all traumatized by the parade, and had even run out of new ways to mock what we were seeing. [Pictures of the parade here.]

Oh, and there was the beating of the willows, which was quite spectacular. Though possibly because we were all so relieved that the marathon Hashanah Rabbah service was finally concluding, that we all just really let loose and beat those willows.

And then it was the final holiday for a while, Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Last night we went to a small Yemenite synagogue, not far from my apartment. It was excellent. Their amazing accents took some getting used to, but once we clued in, it was great. After the auctioning off of Torah scrolls (it’s a custom of many communities to auction off the rights to carry the Torahs during the procession and recitation of piyyut (liturgical poems)), the successful winner tapped me on the shoulder and gave me the Torah he had won (Drew was given the other Torah he’d won). This was exceptionally generous of him, and made us feel all the more welcome. So we carried, sang, and tried to blend in a little. (This was easier to do among the men than the women. Kelly later said she felt twice as tall as the Yemenite women.) The service ended early, so we wandered Katamon and the Geman Colony looking for other shuls, or other chances to dance in the streets with the Torahs. Unfortunately, the opportunities just weren’t there, which seemed odd – in North America there would have been dancing, and it would have continued later. In our wonderings, we did check out a Breslov shul, a yet-to-be-classified Chasidic shul, and the one that was a few hundred people standing in the streets socialising while maybe a dozen people danced. Alas.

This morning, I returned to the Yemenite shul. Even though I was less able to follow their service (amazingly wonderfully confusing tunes, coupled with different liturgy than I’m accustom to and their accents), it was still fantastic. And my own benchmark for a great Simchat Torah was met: there was dancing on the tables, while the tables were being lifted up. Excellent. It ended early, and I went back to the some-sort-of-Chasidic shul, which was also full of singing and dancing. Around 1:30pm, I made my way to Kedem for some egalitarian action, and davened my 4th amidah of the “morning.”

It’s been wonderful, busy, and somewhat exhausting getting through all the haggim plus Shabbats these last few weeks. In some ways, it’s nice that they’re over so I can concentrate on ulpan and learning, and create a regular schedule. But… I’m really going to miss them too. (Which is why I will be celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday.)

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Filed under: friends, good eats, israel, judaism, photos, random, religion, wtf?

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