Sukkot has been such a great vacation! But I can't wait for it to be over so I can relax a little....
The beginning was not so eventful-- building the sukkah involved all of buying schach and throwing it on the already existing frame. I prepared top make frozen pizza fingers for dinner, but totally misunderstood our oven, so we had delicious nothing for dinner. Well, there was soup and then challah with salads.
Then there was a one day reprieve during which we took advantage of the pool and got ready for the whole thing all over again, though we were invited to new friends for Shabbat dinnner, who were totally awesome! He is the fit it guy for our apt (I don't know if that's through the yeshiva or the kibbutz), but it turns out that he is also finishing up a degree at Maale, which is a religious film school in Jerusalem that Ross is crazy about. He told us about some of his films and they are SO interesting! And his wife has a degree in talmud and another in Jewish History (I hadn't even thought about it until just this second, but I also have those same 2 degrees, and she was teaching Talmud at the school but now she works for the local municipality. Their son is one of Abaye's good friends, and always has us in stitches (did I write about him when the yeshiva guys were here for RH?)
Sunday we met our good friends the Richters (whose daughter had her bat mitzvah and all their family was in town? Have I mentioned them yet?) at their hotel nearish by. We swam in their hotel pool all morning, brought in the very worst pizza any of has ever tasted ever (their daughter Moriah described it best as "Blah! BLAAAH!!! BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! (with much long tongue wagging), and then we went to Katzrin, which is an ancient Talmudic village where people dress up in ancient garb and give a tour and tell stories Colonial Williamsbug style-- very cool! With a film about the story of Elisha ben Avuya (big rabbi turned heratic in the Talmud-- read As A Driven Leaf-- Mom and Lon, have you read that? I think you'd enjoy it-- a novel recreating his life) and Rabbi Meir.
After the place closed, we stood outside and did the negotiating where to eat with 20 people thing, and the Loebs and Richters decided on a very popular place in Tiberias called Decks (the fact that the name is only in English says a lot). After negotations, traffic and parking, it was 7:30 when we got there. The place is a full city block (or most of one at least), and has a huge parking lot in back (which also says a lot around here). The restaurant is designed like a boat dock, and sits right on the water of the Kinneret. they had 2 enormous wrap around sukkahs-- one on the top deck and one on the bottom (each covering half the restaurant, so they would both be kosher). The place was packed, and they sill sat the 15 of us within 5 minutes in a very roomy area. (5 Richters had gone back to the hotel). We sit down and order from the menu which is several pages long, with all the food fitting on one page (the rest is drinks). Of the food page, most of it is a comprehensive list of every possible kind of meat (except the non-kosher kinds), offered a la carte in 3 ounce portions. But they have a fe elegant veggie things, all beautifully served, and cookd on separate grills to accomodate the vegetarian diner.
So we placed our orders, and I was a little nervous about the kvetchy wait of our weary underage travellers, when suddenly, just past the table next to ours, a waitress lights up an enormous bundle of sparklers, and on the loud speaker comes a heavily accented "Happy Berrrsday to yououououou! Happy Berssssday to youououou! A happy happy bersday and mazel tov to the Sasson family on ze occasion of zeir son David's bar mitzvah! On behalf of the State of Israel, we welcome you and thanks you for choosing to celebrate your bar mitzvah here and for choosing Decks!" then a boat which has been sitting offshore on the middle of the Kinneret starts making its way towards us. They invite everyone to the upper deck, so we head up there to check out the scene (not so different from a BT affair), and then they announce that the bar mitzvah boy and his friends will be going on a boat cruise. We go back down to our table, where the boat has docked right next to us. we sit down, but the boat has blocked the breeze from our table, and the neon lights from the boat's dance floor are roasting us. Now our entire party is dripping with sweat-- tugging at our collars and guzzling water. Finally the boats goes out for a spin, and we relax to enjoy our meal, which was delicious! All the kids had a great time, which is not something to be taken for granted. We had a lovely time, and just as we were finishing up, we saw the boat approaching to redock. we all agreed it was time to ask for the bill and book it out of there. But just as the boat was deboarding, there were more sparklers, and another announcement: "Happy Berrrsday to yououououou! Happy Berssssday to youououou! A happy happy bersday and mazel tov to the Stein family (I don't really remember the name, but you get the idea) on ze occasion of zeir daughter Heidi's bat mitzvah! On behalf of the State of Israel, we welcome you and thanks you for choosing to celebrate your bat mitzvah here and for choosing Decks!" On that note we paid and came home.
Then yesterday we spent the day at another kibbutz that hosted a festival for our whole kibbutz. it just so happens that good friend of ours from Baltimore live there (the Kings), so that was a blast. Home late again, and today we are seeing our friends the Potters (for you Vancouverites and now Jerusalemites who know them), and then we are off to "relax" at a sea side cottage overnight. Ross and I are not entirely in agreement about how relaxing it will be to pack up our family of 6 for an overnight and hang out at the beach all day, but Ross and Abaye are very excited about it (Shai and Tali less so), and it will be interesting to see how it goes. It will definitely be much easier for me since Ross is determined to show me it will be relaxing, so he plans to do most of the packing and stuff. I am sure it will be fun regardless. relaxing is perhaps best left to when the kids are in school!
We get back tomorrow afternoon, with minutes and minutes to prepare for the holiday (OK, probably a few hours, unless we get lost, in which case perhaps seconds...). And then we have Friday to prepare for Shabbat.
I have been asked (well, in a group email to everybody, but still) to read Torah in a woman's reading, which only happens once a year here, so that should be fun (if I can unpack the tikkun).
OH I almost forgot!!!!-- Friday night they asked Ross if he would like to give the sermon the next day!!! So he did, and he was awesome! He talked about how Shabbat usually takes precedence over Yom Tov because it is set by G-d, and it therefore has more kedusha (holiness), but he pointed out that when it comes to simcha (joy) Yom Tov takes precedence-- formalistically because we set the times for YT, but he mentioned Rabbi Saul Berman who says we have greater joy on the holidays because we were part of the history that mades those days worthy of celebration (leaving Egypt, agreeing to take the Torah, travelling around in the desert, etc). He finished off by saying that people have been so generous and welcoming to us since we got here, bringing us food and inviting us for meals, and it as been amazing, but we look forward to the time soon when we can also be giving back and participating more in the community and then it will be real complete simcha for us. It was great-- people really loved it!
Now I am off to get through the rest of these festivities (wish me luck!)
Have a happy, singy, dancy Simchat Torah!