Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jerusalem is NOT boring

Hello World,

So the title of this blog post is dedicated to the MANY people (mostly Israelis from outside of Jerusalem) who always say how Jerusalem is boring. I disagree. If by boring people are referring to the nightlife, while Jerusalem doesn't have the same nightlife as Tel Aviv, it still has a lot of options. There is downtown and there are many bars and clubs with many different feels. There is also nachla'ot which has some more chill bars, and there are cute places all over. Same goes with restaurants.

If you are not referring to night life there is still a lot to do here. I hope I have made that clear in my blog. Yeah there are a lot of tourists, but there are places where there aren't. Also the touristy places have GREAT people watching, well all of J'lem has that.

The most "boring" day in Jerusalem is probably shabbat if you are not someone who celebrates it. If you do want the shabbat experience Jerusalem offers a plethora of praying options (I still have some I need to go to) and a very restful atmosphere. If that is not your thing, there are restaurants that do stay open, they are harder to find but I know they exist. There is one on Azza st that I walk by a lot coming come from shabbat dinner and it always seems to be hopping.

In addition to all of this the Jerusalem municipality (or something) puts on fun events. For example, last week there was a food festival in the old city. I went there last Thursday night with some friends and it was super fun. There were all these different booths with yummy food set up. At first we tried to find the food in the Armenian quarter and got lost, so we ended up in the Jewish quarter. It was a gorgeous night, and there was a band playing. It was quite the scene. I had this delicious rice dish, I forget what it was called, but dang it was yummy.

So yeah, Jerusalem is awesome.

I had an eventful and lovely shabbat this week. I went to services at navah tehillah (the renewal minyan). Before doing kabbalat shabbat we sang some of shir ha'shirim (the song of songs), which was a nice change. I learned that if you are sefardi you actually sing shir ha'shirim every shabbat instead of the psalms that are used in the ashkenazi version. Good stuff. Then I had dinner at my friends and it was Mexican themed, which was amazing. I think I've mentioned before Israel's lack of quality mexican food, so this really satisfied my craving. They could teach the Israeli restaurants a thing or two about mexican AND it was all kosher, you can have good mexican without meat (or with fake meat).

After that I went to bed knowing I was going to have to wake up around 4:30am. yikes. Why?? To go to bakashot. A while ago during Israel seminar we visited this synagogue called Ades, which is a Syrian synagogue in nachla'ot. It is so cool it even has it's own wikipedia page. They are known for their particular style of chazzanut (singing of the liturgy) that is crazy complex. When we went on Israel seminar we got to meet a Chazzan and he talked to us about the style and gave us a demonstration. He also invited us for bakashot (literal meaning: requests). Bakashot happen during the winter, but super late at night/early in the morning on shabbat. Everyone gathers in the synagogue to sing special songs each week. So I really wanted to go check it out. And finally this week I did.

I'm really glad I went. It was definitely a totally new experience for me. I didn't know any of the songs. Probably because they were all from this syrian/aleppo tradition of music and I mostly only encounter ashkenazi style stuff. The singing sounded very middle eastern (I don't have good musical terms to explain it). I was sitting with my friend above the action in the women's section, which was cool because I could see everything that was happening. The men took turns singing solos, and wow some of them could really sing! It was great to watch. I HIGHLY recommend you go, if you are in Jerusalem when it is happening. There are only a few more shabbats left until they go on haitus for the summer (I'm pretty sure), so get there! People were very welcoming, they came around with coffee and tea, which was much appreciated in the early hours. (If you are interested more in bakashot, the wikipedia article is also pretty good).

So after a few hours of bakashot, I went home and went to bed. I slept through my alarm so I didn't make it to morning services. I was a bit bummed because I like going on saturday morning, but I did need the sleep. Then I got ready and went to a picnic lunch. It was super nice out today so I wanted to make sure I enjoyed it, which was the logic behind having lunch outside. We had the picnic in gan hapa'amon, which is beautiful right now. There are these really fragrant purple flowers in bloom.

Then I went home and took another epically long shabbat nap. Which always messes me up for falling asleep on Saturday night. oy. I forgot to set one of my clocks to the hour ahead and then I forgot that I forgot so I accidentally had an extra hour of shabbat. I was confused why it was so dark, haha oy. I fixed the clock now so that won't happen again.

Yeah so life is good. I'm starting to feel the time pressure, because I leave for America in less than 2 months (May 24th). April 1st marked my completion of my 9th month here, which is nutso. So I definitely feel the pressure to get to everything that I have been wanting to do and putting off. ahhh. and I also have school, haha.

ok homework time...

Shavua tov,

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