and Leora Rochester.
Little Leora's first
A friend of mine turned to the
Conservative Yeshiva to see if someone would be willing to help a
single mother at home as part of the volunteer program. When the
woman called me to get directions and I was going to tell her what
bus to take, she responded, "I don't take buses." I thought to
myself, "But there hasn't been a bus bombing in Jerusalem for
quite a while now." Not that anyone here has negated the
possibility, especially with Hamas in power now. But life has
resumed a normalcy in Jerusalem, and we have become a bit blasť
The Shavuot celebrations start here about a week before the actually
holiday. The first sign is at the supermarket; free samples of
various dairy products are offered to shoppers, and kits to make
cheese cake are put on display, as a salesperson tries to sell it. I
politely declined the kit. When I make cheese cake, I don't do it
from a kit. This year I decided to make Chocolate Cheesecake Ice
Cream and Sour Cream Chocolate Cake instead. The cake won me first
prize in my synagogue's Shavuot dessert contest two years ago.
The night before Shavuot there was a street fair in the Moshava
(German and Greek Colonies) in Jerusalem. They closed off most of
the main street to traffic and had police searching everyone who
came in past the barriers. (A small inconvenience worth the
security.) The streets were lined with vendors and every few meters
I ran into another friend. I bought brownies from my friends?
daughter, selling them as a fundraiser for school. I also got cotton
candy, orange juice, and corn on the cob --- the dinner of
champions. There were arts & crafts stations set up. And there
was a little parade that Leora watched with wonder. At one end of
the street there was a woman playing the harp. In the middle a jazz
band. A little farther someone with a keyboard. My favorite was the
drumming circle set up for kids. Kids took turns echoing and playing
along with the leader. Even though Leora wasn't able to play, she
seemed to enjoy this. I hope this isn't a sign that she'll want
to play drums when she gets bigger. The neighbors might have
something to say about that.
On Erev Shavuot, my synagogue, Kehillat Mayanot, had an Italian
style pot-luck. This was one way to ensure people would be there for
the tikkun (learning session) after dinner. They had
different classes set up for different age groups. In past years,
I've gone "tikkun hopping" to my shul: Pardes
where they have the study sessions in English: and possibly another
shul or center, if there was a topic of interest. The word "tikkun"
literally means "fixing". (Tikkun olam means
"fixing the world.") It is a tradition to stay up all night on
Shavuot and study until the morning, with the help of caffeinated
products. At 1, 2, and 3 o'clock in the morning you'll see
people walking from one to tikkun to another. But this year I
didn't make it to any other tikkunim.
I was also planning on going to the Kotel but didn't quite make
it. There's a tradition of dovening shaharit (the morning
service) at the Western Wall at sunrise. On the way walking there,
usually around 4 o'clock in the morning, you are joined by people
coming out of the side streets, heading in the same direction, and
you soon become part of this mass flow of thousands of people
heading to the Old City. The walk itself is an amazing experience.
Then once you get there, dovening while the sun is rising
above the walls of the Old City and Temple Mount is awe
Since the egalitarian minyan has been dovening at
Robinson's Arch, in my opinion, it's become a more spiritual
experience. I don't like the fact that we don't have the right
to doven in an egalitarian minyan at the Kotel Plaza, but in
getting us out of the way, they gave us a more peaceful and
beautiful spot. Standing in front of these walls and stone that,
like the Jewish people, have survived thousands of years, while the
sun comes up, and singing the prayers and Hallel is something
I cannot describe in words. You really have to be a part of it and
feel it. I hope next year to take Leora to experience this.
Speaking of the "wonder baby," each day she gets more wonderful.
We're now experimenting with food. She's also into spitting now.
Sometimes there's more food in my hair than in her tummy. She
seems to enjoy the sweet potato and squash. They also make for
better photo ops than the applesauce and cereals. I also gave her a
taste of my chocolate cheese cake ice-cream. She really liked that.
That's my girl!
She also now sits by herself. I wasn't quite ready for this. We
went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and she asked me if Leora
can sit by herself. I said she can sit up against something but I
didn't know if she could sit by herself. So, I sat her up on the
examining table, and what do you know! She sat by herself. Not even
I have some other good news. As of 1 July, I will be gainfully
employed by Gesher. Gesher
(Hebrew for "bridge") is Israel's oldest and largest
educational organization dedicated to bridging the gap between
different segments of the population in Israel and between Israelis
and the Jews in the Diaspora. It will feel good to be earning a
paycheck again and to be with adults for a few hours a day. To
celebrate, I bought Leora two really cute outfits and a tambourine
yesterday. She liked banging on the tambourine and sometimes tasting
it as well.