Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Playing Catch-Up pt. 1

It has been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and write, and as you can imagine a lot has happened in the interim. Let’s play catch up. Apologies if this isn’t a coherent blog post – there’s a lot to cover so feel to pick and choose to read what interests you! I've broken it up into 4 different posts. 

Yom Kippur (Friday, October 3- Saturday, October 4)

It’s not often that I say I’m excited to celebrate Yom Kippur. Previously, Yom Kippur was a day I spent watching TV and being bitter because I am hungry and fasting. I looked forward to the holiday this year, though, because I had heard a lot about what it’s like to spend Yom Kippur in Israel.

Two of my roommates and I headed over to Rosi’s house for “the last supper,” if you will.  I usually try to stay hydrated before fasting and eat a reasonably sized meal.  That being said, I had no restraints when it came to indulging in Rosi’s feast. I also had shwarma earlier that day which happened to have a fly nestled in it so I’m pretty sure I was just trying to forget that whole experience.

A bit before sundown/ when the fast was to start, a siren could be heard throughout the city as a warning that there was 20 minutes left until Yom Kippur was to start. Since High Holiday tickets in Los Angeles tend to be extremely expensive and I just spend my time sitting in synagogue thinking about how hungry I am as opposed to atoning, I don’t usually go to synagogue on Yom Kippur. This year, though, I wanted to experience what synagogue in Israel was like. Rosi was more than happy to have my roommates and myself tag along with her family for what was my first time in synagogue during this trip to Israel.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I was not a huge fan of the experience. We attended services at a Yemenite synagogue. First, the synagogue was separated by gender. Men were obviously right in the center of all the action on the first floor while the women sat on the second floor. Just in case that wasn’t enough to keep the men focused on prayers and not the ladies, not-so-see-through curtains obstructed the view from the second floor. This was the first thing that put me off. MOVING ON- the second offense was the sale of mitzvahs and prayers for the service. This was something like I’d never seen before.  An HOUR of the evening was spent auctioning off opportunities for the men to participate in the evening’s service. For example, Rosi’s husband shelled out some big bucks (or should I say shekels?) so one of my roommates could carry the Torah. This was obviously an extremely selfless act; it just sort of upset me that an actual auction was occurring on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. In all fairness, American synagogues charge people for tickets to High Holiday services, but this happens BEFORE the actual holiday.

As for the actual service - which only happened after a short break was taken post auction – I could not follow along with anything that was going on. The siddurim (or prayer books) had no English in them, which I probably should have expected, but I am just so accustomed to my synagogue’s books, which have both English and Hebrew in them. So to summarize – not only was I clueless as to what was happening downstairs, but I also could not follow along with the only tangible part of the ceremony for myself.  I am glad that I attended the services so I wouldn’t be left wondering what if but as you can imagine I did not choose to return to synagogue the next day (sorry Dad).

After services, Rosi and her husband walked my roommates and me home. Given it is a Jewish state, no one drives on Yom Kippur. NO. ONE. Well except for ambulances. But other than that the streets are completely free of automobiles and FILLED with people. It was an incredible experience – I’d go so far to say that it was more of a spiritual experience than synagogue was. Once I got home I tried staying up as late as possible so I could hibernate through most of Saturday. I was able to sleep/stay in bed till about 2 pm, after which two of my roommates and I decided we would play cards and board games to occupy ourselves until the fast was over. And why play in your apartment when you can play in the middle of an otherwise busy highway?!

What?! I said I didn't eat, not that I refrained from electricity use!
Our time spent on the highway seemed to pass quickly and before we knew it, it was time to break our fast. While my roommates had planned to break their fasts with hummus and pita, I had bigger plans in mind. After some serious convincing on my behalf I was able to get my roommates to join me on an hour-long journey to Tel Aviv for some wings, fries, and ice cream cookie sandwiches. #exfatkidproblems. They were happy they obliged.

Almost worth the 25 hour wait

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