[This, and the 2 posts below, were written yesterday & today]
Yitzchak and Aviva had invited me to go north with them and another couple (and their 6 children) on their annual vacation at an Orthodox settlement called Shavi-Shomeron. I was honored to be included and jumped at the chance to go.
We were to leave Ma’ale Levona on Thursday at noon, but the bus broke down on its way to us. Yitzchak suggested we walk to the entrance of the Yishuv (settlement) and try to hitchhike. Evidently the first bus stop at the entrance to each Israeli Yishuv has been designated as the place to get picked up if you don’t want to pay the price for a bus ticket.
So, we walked to the bus stop and waited with several others. And we waited and waited. Several cars stopped on their way out of the Yishuv, but no one was going to Jerusalem. It was very hot and Yitzchak was having trouble with the heat, so we decided to wait for the 2:30 bus.
We caught the 2:30 bus and it broke down as soon as it reached the next Yishuv, Shiloh. The bus had lost its transmission and couldn’t go forward. We sat for over an hour on the bus waiting for another one to arrive. I was really hungry and asked the driver if I could leave the bus and walk to a market which was about 100 yards away. He said, “Yes, but be sure to be back before we leave.” As I was getting an ice cream bar, the bus suddenly began to move forward. The driver had gotten the transmission in gear. When I saw the bus beginning to move, I ran back and jumped on. Just then, the bus again lost its transmission and began to roll backward across the metal knives which stuck out of the ground so you can’t enter the Yishuv via the “exit”. As the bus rolled backwards, the steel knives punctured the front tires.
Finally the replacement bus arrived and we made it to Jerusalem just in time for Aviva to join us, grab a quick sandwich and catch the bus north to Shavi-Shomeron.
We arrived around supper and the Neiman family was waiting for us with a bar-b-que they had just cooked. We put our belongings in what is called a Caravan (structures where the government puts all newcomers, but which are also used for visitors to a Yishuv). We sat around the rest of the evening eating and talking.
Friday we all rested and Dov (the dad of the 6 kids) and I went to the Yishuv’s pool. It was the “for men only” session (men and women don’t swim together in Orthodox Judaism). He didn’t take his kids since they are all girls. I learned a lot talking to Dov as he is very knowledgeable about his religion.
Friday evening the men all went to the Shul (Synagogue) to spend a couple of hours welcoming in the Sabbath. Of course, I didn’t understand a word of it and read my own Bible most of the time.
One of the highlights of my “vacation” was the time Dov, Yitzchak and I spent reading the Talmud together. Dov was teaching Yitzchak about Jewish Law and the Talmud (being the written commentary of the Law), is what you study. In the particular section we were reading, the ancient rabbis are having a discussion of what can and cannot be carried on the Sabbath. It was excruciatingly detailed and picky. One of the reasons it was so fascinating to me was because I came away from our time really understanding just how revolutionary Jesus’ words were in Matthew 6,7, & 8; how counter-cultural Matthew 23 was; and what Jesus meant when He said things like, “You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.”
We then went to a dinner at the home of a dear friend of Aviva’s. This lady was the most wonderfully Jewish women I have met in person: elderly, loud, funny, gracious, fond of company and a wonderful cook. I remembered just in time that Sabbath meals are served in several courses, so I didn’t eat everything during the bread, wine, fish, humus, etc., course.
Dinner was accompanied by lots of argument (ie. sharing of deep opinions) about every subject imaginable. Lots of laughter and more food. We went home around midnight.
The next day was Sabbath when all males go to Synagogue around 8AM. Dov was the only one who went. Yitzchak and I slept in. Then came Sabbath dinner (during Sabbath you eat 3 meals). Ytizchak was not feeling well and stayed in bed all day. This meal, also accompanied by several courses and much talk, lasted from 11AM to after 4PM.
We went back to our Caravans and slept until 6:00 when Dov arrived for our 2nd session of Talmud. After this, there was a short session at the Synagogue and we went back to Aviva’s friend’s house for the 3rd meal. This meal began with a ceremony to close out Sabbath and transition to the work week. We kept waiting for supper to be served, but our hostess was busy and we finally left at 9PM without eating anything. I never knew what happened to supper. We just went back to the caravan and had some coffee with the Neiman’s, talked some and went to bed.
We left the Neiman family at the Yishuv to continue with their vacation and we caught the bus back to Jerusalem. I finally got back to the apartment at around 4PM.
Although I was pleased to have been invited to join in on other families’ vacation, it was money I didn’t need to spend and took time away from working with Yossi.
Yossi called around 8PM to tell me he will be working for the next week and a half. He asked me if I could spend my time rewriting chapters that are currently in the book. I told him I didn’t think so based on our earlier experience of writing chapters together. The reason is that Yossi wants each sentence and phrase to have a certain “sound” that really can only come from him. Even if I rewrite chapters (which I have done already), he will rephrase each sentence until it achieves that sound. What we have done together is excellent; but I am not Yossi and I don’t think I can accomplish what he wants without his input.
We agreed that Yossi would call me again today so we can discuss whether or not we can really get anything done on the book, which means whether or not I need to stay in Israel.
Personal note: There is a movie (actually, a documentary) which the Jews here have been eager for me to watch. I watched it the other night and I want to highly recommend it to everyone who reads this blog. Since it took place just down the road from Crossville, it is appropriate for my Crossville friends, but it is a “must see” for everyone. Get a group of people together and rent the documentary, Paper Clips. Then, tell me what you thought of it.