I learned how to embed a YouTube video! Read to the end to enjoy it!
My Shabbat this past weekend was terrific. It started with Friday night at Elie and Micah's bible-scholar apartment. (They rent from the guy who is the authority on Leviticus.)
I joined the boys at shul in Nachlaot, a religious and crunchy neighborhood close to where they live, and close to the shuk. The shul, which came highly recommended by both boys, was tiny, with what I describe as a "friendly mechitza" meaning, that it divided the room in half, and the shaliach tzibur / service leader was right in front, and could be seen and heard from both sides of the curtain. I was sitting in the back corner of about 10 seats, but there area in front of me was filled with women during services.
I was still getting over a cold, but I didn't have a cough...until Lecha Dodi. Then, I was wracked with one of those coughs that can only be controlled with a bottle of water and a package of tissues. I had to elbow my way out of the services so I could blow my nose. The girl who told me the bathroom was unoccupied did so in English, and I remained surprised when, after services, everyone started speaking with each other in English. Another Anglo community!
Elie is a master-chef, and dinner was amazing. It is always fun to spend Shabbat with team Gainesville, minus Rafi (he was in the North). The walk back was surprisingly easy. I'd never walked from Rechavia to Emek before, and, as it turns out, it's not all uphill.
The next day, I went off to the Sheraton to visit with the Simons. It was quite the march uphill, but it didn't take nearly as much time as I'd anticipated. I used to babysit for the Simons back in the day (Their youngest son, of course, is in college.) and we spent lots of good time together in the hallowed halls of Beth Am. Anyway, Michael is now a rabbi of a congregation in Palm Beach, and I stopped by for a talk with the group, and then fruit and snacks and hanging out with the Simons. I kind of let the talk go where they wanted it -- what is it like to study in Israel for the year, and why I'm doing it -- and it was a pretty nice presentation. The participants seemed to enjoy it.
After the presentation, I spoke to a few members of the group one-on-one, and I started to pull their familial relationship structures out of the ether. The one large group of people related to the very-talkative Bubbie had a surprise in store for me.
After I finished speaking, I went upstairs with the Simons, and Bubbie's family asked me if I was a fan of Ben Kweller. Of course, I said yes, and all of a sudden, I was getting the life history of an artist I'd discovered (ok, Leah had discovered) back at UF. They showed me a cool photo spread of Ben in Death and Taxes, a new (?) magazine, and I learned that he is an alum of one of the super-cool Jewish summer camps with which I had the pleasure of working last year. The Kwellers were delightful, and it was really fun to learn about one of "The Bens" (Harper, Folds and Kweller) from proud Jewish parents, an aunt and a grandmother.
After enjoying long conversations with the Kwellers and the Simons, they were off to a walk through Nachlaot, where I had davenned the night before. I went back home to do some reading about Jewish Schools, Communities and Families. When Shabbat was over, I wrote an essay due the first week of camp (since I'm going to camp 3 weeks before school ends), and looked up the Ben Kweller music video, recommended by the star herself.