Monday, September 12, 2011

Postcard #1 from 9/1-8/2011

So much for Continental thru Newark that we heard so much about!  "Irene" saw to it that instead we left two days later, spent numerous hours walking around Frankfurt, arriving at Ben Gurion at 3 am several days later than originally scheduled! Amazing how busy the airport is at that hour as all the European flights arrive in the middle of the night.

detail Palace Hotel
Neighboring courtyard with hotel in background
Faux tile

Surprises awaited us: the Waldorf Astoria, built in 1923 as the highly acclaimed Palace Hotel is on its way to completion. The scaffolding is down, once again revealing the magnificent architectural details of this fusion of Greco Roman, Gothic and Ottoman architecture. It is being lovingly restored to its original grandeur with additional buildings for the hotel and private apartments; the buildings and the courtyard in back and to the side of us are essentially completed. Although certainly an improvement over what used to be there, upon examining the so called lovely Moroccan style tile work around the planter boxes, we noticed it was peeling, a rather strange phenomenon for tile. As Lauren pointed out, it's shelf paper covering wood! Now the noise and dirt are from the other side of us where a multi story building is going up where there was a lovely home. We think they may be building on top of it but meanwhile it is a continuous mess here with no end in sight! Poor Lauren!

Zayda doing the kazatsky with Zalman

Zalman, Alexander, Marc
A siyum is the completion of any unit of Torah study, book of the Mishnah or Talmud in Judaism. At barely 20, Zalman completed the Babylonian Talmud, considered quite a fete for his age. After the family shabbat on Saturday night all of us helped set up tables, chairs, etc for Sunday evening's celebration. Zalman's yeshiva friends and several rabbis, wives and immediate family attended the joyful event. As is custom at all celebrations, the young men of the yeshiva, along with certain male family members danced and sang and when I mentioned to Marc I recognized a song from the wedding he replied that Zalman had married the torah. The meal was "catered" by Sarah Batya, Rivi's mother Tanya and several friends. Alexander was the go to person in charge of the young men serving food to nearly 50 people, cleaning up and generally caring for everyone's needs. A job well done for an almost 15 year old!

Zalman has made a major decision concerning his future that is very exciting. He has chosen a course of study leading to being a judge in the beit dien or "house of judgment", a rabbinical court of Judaism.  Every city in Israel and some US cities that have large Jewish communities have religious courts. There is an order to everything done in Judaism. To become a rabbi one must pass 6 tests: shabbat laws; laws of kashrut or keeping kosher; laws on death; marriage; mikve or ritual bath for women; and the menstrual cycle. A student studying to be a judge may postpone the above 6 tests and take only one at a later time. However, the rules for becoming a judge include 7 years of learning the laws, being at least 27, married and a father. The reason for the latter is that in ancient times a judge could not sentence someone else's son to death without having children of his own. Now the criminal courts have taken over that job. It is amazing to learn the various laws involved, ie restaurants have laws re kashrut and the courts are in charge. 

Spent Wednesday evening with our friends Gloria and Mike Kramer, shmoozing on their Yemin Moshe balcony and gazing at the magnificent view of the Old City walls lit up. Being a long time docent at the Israel Museum, Gloria knows what's good and she told us to spend a minimum of 10 minutes watching The Clock, a 24 hour video by Christian Markley. Some 45 minutes later after tearing ourselves away (and on 2-3 person sofas too) from being totally mesmerized, we spent another hour walking through the art department including a wonderful retrospective of Micah Ullman. An Israeli, Ullman was responsible for the fabulous underground "library" in Berlin memorializing the book burning during WWII. On our way out we thought we would spend a few extra minutes in The Clock and another 45 minutes later we finally pulled ourselves away. It played at the Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC where people lined up in the snow and at LACMA but unfortunately not in our neighborhood. It is comprised of snippets of literally thousands of movies in all languages and each has a watch, a clock or dialogue referring to time and if you look at your own watch you will see that exact time. At some point each venue stays open 24 hours so those who can do it will watch the entire day. The scenes also flow from one to the other so you are never sure unless you recognize the actors if you are on the next one. It is a masterpiece in Real Time!

Moment of Glory
The Museum on the Seam located on the Green Line that divided East and West Jerusalem till '67 was a crumbling Turkish era villa until 1999 when Israeli artist Raphie Etgar beautifully restored it and currently serves as director. It sits on the edge of Mea Sharim and opposite Sheikha Jarrah.  He left the bullet holes but "turned the interior into a sleek shrine to contemporary art—but with a twist." "The idea is to combine art with a socio-political message."  The current show that has received publicity in the US including in our 'J,' has brought in seven of the 28 artists from Middle Eastern countries. An Egyptian and a Saudi still live in their countries, the others primarily in the West. Other participants are from the US, Europe, Asia and Russia. Some Muslim countries refused to let their artists associate with Israel. My personal favorite is a neon piece called "Moment of Glory" by an Iranian woman. It consists of the names of 15 world renowned artists with other countries from the other side of the atlas next to their names. To paraphrase her thesis, every artist has a double and is in dialogue with an artist from another country. 

Satisfied Shoppers!
Light Rail Interior
Ashira-16, Talia-11, Chana Tsipora-9 and Shalom Simcha-3 all needed shoes so we made it a fun trip for all of us by traveling on the month old light rail. It only took about 10 years to build, caused horrific hardship on downtown businesses, many of which either moved or closed and is still free of charge because the powers that be cannot figure out the machines! Like there are not a lot of other cities in other countries that have fare machines that couldn't lend assistance and who themselves would never think of allowing their citizens to ride free of charge?! Only in Israel! We ended our shopping expedition with a delicious Italian dinner at Kikar Safra or the City Hall complex, Zalman and Rivi met us and Ashira took the young shoppers home on the train that stops right in front. It makes Bart feel like the Bullet Train but since it still has to stop for red lights as it is all above ground and wends through a congested city the engineers need to figure that out as well. Give them another 10 years!
Light Rail on Jaffa Road

These were the highlights of our first week here but it admittedly took a bit to get over the arrival schedule! Never again we hope!!!! Till we meet again with  lots to tell about Jennifer and family moving back here.  Marianne

1 comment:

  1. Always love getting your Israel postcards! I'm glad you're having a good trip - give my love to the family!