Friday, August 19, 2016

POSTCARD FROM JERUSALEM - AUGUST 17, 2016

THE WEDDING
Because so many of you are anxiously awaiting the report on the wedding, I will begin with that and return next blog to other events!

We finally met the bride Racheli when she arrived for photos at the wedding hall. Because the couple do not see each other for a week before the wedding, we first had Friedman family photos. Then Alexander left and Racheli and family arrived. I must say, her extremely large family which includes aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents and 11 siblings, two married with spouses, are the nicest people I consider myself privileged to have ever met. And this is with a language barrier!

Racheli is lovely. She looks very much like her mother who has a body to kill for after giving birth to 12 kids, the youngest only four! Alexander is tall and slender like the males in the brides family of seven brothers (and five sisters) and fits right in. Older sister and brother are married.



I did not recall this from Rivi and Ashira but the brides wear shetals or wigs to the ceremony. That is because once they say their vows under the chuppah their heads must be covered and they certainly cannot put on a wig in front of everyone!

Once again, I embarrassed my son and male grandchildren (but only my son kicked me out twice) by going on the men's side and taking photos. I dutifully wore a hat (much as I dislike hats on me) and was dressed appropriately but this new family is more religious than prior ones. Alexander told me he figured I had a 90% chance of being asked to leave but...who would ask a camera toting great grandmother to leave?! The son of a friend translated my thank you to the bride's father for allowing me to take photos of the men. Such kindness I am not sure I deserved!
Friend Guy, cousin Nadav, Zalman, Zach in rear

Always the goof off!
The bride was seated on a white sofa to receive her female guests.  Then the groom is led into the women's side by his father and father-in-law-to-be and certain rabbis to do the bedecking ceremony. The groom puts a veil over the bride after checking to make sure he is marrying the right girl. This dates back to biblical times "when Jacob's father-in-law Laben put his daughter Leah in place of Jacob's chosen bride, Rachel. When the groom personally veils the bride, it's a kind of insurance policy against bridal surprises."

The groom and his entourage proceed to the chuppah or marriage canopy and the bride's mother and mother-in-law-to -be along with the wives of special rabbi's follow. Weather permitting the chuppah is outside. All the men dressed in black suits and large hats crowd up to the front while the women are behind and on the side. Pas moi! I crowded right up there with them but being my size, was unable to get good shots. Thus Moses had to be the main chronicler of the ceremony.




The bride circles the groom  seven times. "There are several interpretations of the significance of this number: seven is the number of days of creation, and the wedding ceremony is the creation of a new household; seven is the number of times the phrase “when a man takes a wife” occurs in the Bible; seven is the number of times Joshua circled the walls of Jericho in order to bring them down, and in circling her groom a bride brings down any wall that may remain between them. "

The ceremony itself is rather difficult to follow. Many important rabbis are called to the chuppah to recite certain prescribed prayers, a paper is signed, the wine cup is passed around but I do not recall there was the breaking of the glass.  Someone passed the ring to the groom to give to the bride. Then all the men crowded around singing and that was the end of my view!

"The couple is then escorted to a private "yichud room" and left alone for a few minutes. These moments of seclusion signify their new status of living together as husband and wife. Since the
couple has been fasting since the morning, at this point they will also have something to eat." The bride and groom return to their respective sides and are greeted with singing, dancing and much joy!

The ceremony was followed by a dinner with the men and women seated separately. This couple, as with Zalman and Rivi and Zach and Ashira, will be leading a lifestyle more stringent than the Marc Friedman and Sarah Batya Friedman family. They will go to fewer restaurants if at all, and will obey all the laws of Judaism.

Some of the things that went on in this ceremony were different. The bride's family are all Jerusalemites dating back generations. Most of them, if not all, live in the Rova, or Old City. There are well over 100 family members and where one goes, they all go. It is quite incredible. The bride's mother is one of 18 children, 17 living. One sister was killed along with her three children in a bus bombing many years ago. The bride's father is one of eight. Many of the men are rabbis and own and work at the Silberman Yeshiva. They have known all three Friedman boys since they started school there. Two down, one to go!

Dancing and singing to live music went on for several hours. It is difficult to describe the joy that abounds when one of the yeshiva guys (all the yeshivot not just this one) gets married. Only through being present or watching a video would one be able to understand. And that joy abounds on the women's side as well.
Herbie and Alexander

Zalman, Alexander, Shalom Simcha
Racheli with very pregnant Ashira
 As he has done in the prior weddings, Herbie totally got into dancing with the men. Did his usual kezatska (I cannot locate a proper spelling) but it's the Russian dance where one squats and kicks his legs out in front. Moses was able to get closer and take pics with his incredible Samsung high end phone/camera. (Pictures with me in them plus several others were taken by him and emailed to me.)
Herbie entertaining the groom, his brothers and father
Orthodox couples do not take honeymoons. They spend the week following the ceremony with their families and friends at Sheva Brachot, meals that bring the community into their lives and them into the community. And during the first year neither can travel alone but must take the other along. The wedding meal counts as the first Sheva Bracha. Marc hosted some friends and family at his home the next night and the bride's parents hosted Friday night dinner and Saturday lunch and third meal at the Aish HaTorah building Marc arranged. The bride's grandparents will host the next two nights and Batya the last night on Tuesday.

The professional photographer (and therefore Moses and I) took photos of the married couple with their families as well as those before the ceremony.

There are six Friedman ladies and five Friedman men!


PS: In case you are wondering, all female bridal attire is rented for a very reasonable sum. It is altered and depending on the amount of alterations, the extra fabric remains inside. I recall it can be rented to three different bridal parties before being retired. Ashira's had to be made as the one maternity dress was already rented.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

POSTCARD FROM JERUSALEM August 3-11, 2016


Before I left home, many of you asked how I find time to blog when we do so much while here. Let me tell you, this time it aint been easy! I took the new United direct SF-TA for 14 hours and it was heaven! Not only did I get business class but the food was really good and diet shmiet I ate the whole hot fudge over vanilla ice cream with coffee poured over and when melted poured back into my coffee cup! That is worth UA and I miss it when not in business class!

I arrived alone and moved into the house. I spent four days walking around with my camera, visiting my favorite haunts and people and generally just taking it easy. Summer heat is definitely here along  with a multitude of cheery and colorful decorations in the downtown Ben Yehuda/Yoel Salomon area. They range from umbrellas to soccer, lanterns to flowers.

Shalom Simcha, 8; Talia, 16; Chana Tsipor, 12
Spent Shabbat dinner at Batya's with the kids minus Rivi and
Zalman and the girls. Alexander, the 19 year old groom to be, walked me home and was a delight to talk with! Can't wait to meet Racheli, his intended, to tell her how much I appreciate how she has brought him out of quietude into a delightful young man. Always been sweet and kind but not very sociable/talkative. Their story is wonderful and I will attempt the short and sweet version.

Both sides of her family are rabbis and either run or teach at the school Alexander has attended since he was 4 years old. (Zalman there before him and Shalom Simcha currently.) Apparently as time went on they decided to keep an eye on him for one of the rabbi's daughters. Thus when Batya went to find out why her son wanted to start dating when he seemed so unready, the rosh yeshiva or head rabbi assured her he was ready and he had the perfect girl for him—his niece! The wedding is next Wednesday evening and we will be there with bells on and camera at the ready!

Shabbat lunch we spent at Marc's where I attempted to play a new game with the kids but passed out.  Guess my euphoria of the shorter flight wore off! Late in the afternoon we walked to Batya's and had the "third meal", a light repast but a necessity in the Orthodox world.

Sunday dinner I took the bus to Tel Aviv where Philippe and Daniella picked me up to dine at Miss Kaplan's vegan restaurant in Sarona. By far the best vegan/vegetarian restaurant any of us has ever been to.  According to Vogue and another US magazine, it is the best in the world, if my source is correct! The signature dish is a hot dog in a bun that tastes exactly like it sounds. However, the hot dog is a carrot soaked in Jack Daniels to get the smokey flavor and the bun appears to be similar to the outside of a Chinese bow/bun. Incredible! Unfortunately, however, as many kudos and 5 star reviews as it has gotten, it will be closing and relocating. Apparently it is too unusual to be in that location. Definitely will follow its reincarnation and revisit next trip. (Jennifer and Simone were in India and Philippe and Daniella left on Wednesday to meet them.)


CHANA TSIPORA'S BAT MITZVAH
Monday late afternoon and evening more than a dozen females, family friends and relatives, celebrated Chansy's (for short) 12th birthday and her becoming a bat mitzvah. Orthodox girls become a bat mitzvah at 12 tho the boys still do it at 13.  And we all know why, right?!

Baking challah is a very significant event in the life of a Jewish female. Batya hired a woman who has written a book on the correct way to make challah and its significance. Very interesting but don't ask me any questions as I
was busy taking pictures as usual. The preparation and the steps were really fascinating especially to me as I have never even tried to bake bread of any kind, let alone braided!
 

The tables we had set Saturday night after shabbat looked beautiful with colors and flowers picked out by Chansy. Big sister Talia baked and decorated a yummy cake with a friend, sparklers and all.
Ashira with friend Bracha
Talia with her challah creation









Ashira and Zach had joined us for Shabbat and Zach led havdalah commemorating the end of the sabbath.At 8, Shalom Simchah hangs on to every word Zach says. He also thinks that if he talks to and makes nice to the baby in his sister's tummy the baby will favor him! A lovely family atmosphere.



Herbie arrived with his companion Moses on Monday evening, the same flight as I had. Next morn we breakfasted at Tmol Shilshom, the bookstore, all of us savoring our Shakshuka!


THE CHRISTIAN SITES
We showed Moses the important Christian sites in Jerusalem as we had done with our Tasmanian friends last year.

Beginning with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where it is said Jesus was crucified and buried and on to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, the property of a foundation of the Evangelical Church in Germany, ending our day walking the Via Dolorosa or Stations of the Cross. It is known as the path
Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion.
Where Jesus was placed before burial. Church of Holy Sepulcher


They heard the hammering of the nails from the original rock beneath







Snuck in a Jewish site at the end of the day. Visited Marc's yeshiva Aish HaTorah in the Old City to see the spectacular view. It is from a different side than the Mount of Olives.


ISRAEL MUSEUM

Not sure how this is connected but adorable!
We spent nearly an entire day in the Israel Museum including two special exhibits: Picasso: Drawing Inspiration including pieces borrowed from the finest museums displaying many of his various periods. And Pharaoh in Canaan: The Untold Story with our friend Gloria Kramer as our private docent. We also took in much of the museum, managing to miss A Mummy in Jerusalem: Secrets of the Afterlife. May have to return!

We happened upon an exhibit on the way out that starts in the Weinstein Gallery of the Ruth Youth Wing, that turned out to be a highlight for all three of us. Called Wire(less) Connections it is a treat of cleverness for all ages.






Because the website description describes it better than I can, I am copying it here: What is the significance of ties – real and metaphorical – and what role do they play? Who tugs at our heartstrings? Who weaves the thread of our life? When do wires combine to form a network – and when a tangle? The exhibition moves between two poles: from the primal thread of human existence – the umbilical cord – to the ramification of wireless connections such as the social networks. The art on show, by Israeli and international contemporary artists, employs various kinds of threads and deals with personal, social, and cultural issues, inviting the entire family to pull the strings and discover countless connections.


Recall this is string and pins. Site specific with string going off on both sides.

Note the cell phones!















We must have spent a good hour enjoying it ourselves and watching kids of all ages enjoying it as well. When we got outside we discovered a maze for kids only and pleaded with the young ladies to let us in! We were all cracking up! Moses took pics of us being silly hanging yarn on the mesh walls.

close up of hanging dishes
children playing!















At the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed we saw the entire bible printed on a nano chip thru a special scope. Technology and religion at its finest!

Found a path we had never taken in the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden where we saw two spectacular pieces. We see so much more when we  are showing someone else!





Look closely and you will see a body on top.








 MOUNT OF OLIVES
Where Jesus wrote the text.
The next day we took a cab to the top of the Mount of Olives and enjoyed visiting once again The French National Domain of Eleona, Pater Noster Cloister. It is said that there was a text written by the Lord on a marble flagstone. It is the first evidence of a tradition according to which Jesus taught the prayer of the Our Father to his disciples at this place on the Mount of Olives, according to the Gospel of Luke (11, 1-4). The text of the Lord's Prayer is written on earthenware plates in 171 languages, many very obscure.



We spent considerable time at the top admiring the view as well as people watching. An entire busload of young women appeared covered from head to toe but using cell phones! Somehow this seemed incongruous to me and I snapped away. There were also two young women in pants and
t-shirts pointing out the sites..


Tomb of the Patriarchs
Looking down at the Tomb of the Patriarchs below, a praying rabbi happened to be visible.

   Wending our way down the narrow road admiring the greenery and the thousands of Jewish gravestones we could see thru the wall on the side of the road and ahead.
Two young Danish women asked us why there were stones on top of the graves and we couldn't answer. Called Rabbi Marc but he couldn't answer either so I called upon Rabbi Google the next day. The consensus seems to be that placing rocks has been a custom for many years as they show someone has visited the grave and they last forever whereas flowers die. However, there are numerous other ideas floating around but this one seems to make the most sense to me!

Our visit to the beautiful Russian Orthodox Church, also known as The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, with the gold spires that can be seen from many vantage points, was especially memorable. While Moses went up to visit the church and Herbie and I remained below, several young nuns were carrying sliced watermelon to their private houses. It was very hot and the watermelon looked very good so I said rather loudly, "that looks really good"! One came right over with a big smile and gave us a piece to share! I joined Moses in the upper church but was not allowed to photograph. Got this one in quickly before being stopped. Really beautiful!





Thought to be the original tree.
Unfortunately we missed the Tear Drop Church but will return if we have time. The last stop was at The Garden of Gethsemane with its eight massive olive trees thousands of years old with younger ones mixed in to replace the cypress. The DNA of the original eight is the same which leads scientists to believe that there was one tree that actually witnessed the arrest of Jesus that Thursday night before Easter.  The others were cuttings taken from the original. The old man who took us around was so proud of the trees and took us into the church providing a wealth of information. The church has come to be known as The Church of All Nations due to the small flags adorning the sides.




Classic male multi-taking! (and  that is not a musical instrument he has in his mouth...



 Till next time, visits and wedding festivities...