What a nice Shabbos! Of course, every Shabbos has been great since we got to Israel. It's so nice to meet so many different people. Last night we went to the home of a Russian/Israeli couple we had met at someone's house a couple of weeks ago. They came to Israel via Atlanta several years ago. Michoel told us how he was able to go to university in Russia in the late 60's and how he got into computers, and all the anti-semitism they encountered. He and Anna were lucky to be able to leave Russian when they did. They just brought his mother over from the states (also from Atlanta) this past December; she has to be in her 80's. She joined us for dinner. Mostly she lives with Michoel's brother practically across the street. It must be so nice to have family living close by! Michoel was so funny; he has that dry, Bob Newhart kind of humor where he says things with a straight face and you're left wondering if you should laugh or not. We were talking about tipping the movers when our lift arrived, and other peoples' experiences with the movers asking for more than what you had planned to give them. Michoel took care of it in a rather unique way. After his stuff had been delivered, the movers told him they wanted 200 shekels each as a tip. He offered 100 each. They countered with 175. He came back with 50. He said they looked at him like he was nuts and asked for 150. He told them, "25. That's my final offer." But then he gave them each 100 which was what he planned to give them, and they were satisfied, although he said they walked away shaking their heads at the "crazy guy." He was just giving them back what they were dishing out!
This morning I finally made it to the shul that David's been going to - Aish Kodesh. It had an Agudah-like atmosphere to me, although like all shuls around here, the women were actually in a metal-like building that had been added on to the side of the (small) shul, with 2 open and curtained windows between. I was a little nervous about going there, and more than a little embarrassed when I couldn't get the door open and a woman finally opened it from the inside. Seems I was trying to pull it open and all I had to do was push! I had brought a backpack with me with my siddur, a bottle of wine for our lunch hosts, and a bottle of cold water. They were in the middle of Torah reading, and I was actually able to find a Chumash on the shelf and find the right place pretty quickly, even though it was all in Hebrew. The family that we were going to for lunch were waaaayyyy over on Lakish; a pretty far distance, and they had said they wanted to eat by 11. Since Aish Kodesh doesn't even end until 11 and it was at least a 20-25 minute walk in the sun (with no shade along the way), David had told me he'd daven the mussaf Shemonah Esrei during the rabbi's speech (which is in Hebrew anyway). We hadn't exactly finalized those plans, but I went ahead and did the Shemonah Esrei and Ashray, and then packed up my backpack and went outside and around the building to wait for David. Unfortunately, the men were packed in like sardines (it's the only thing he doesn't like about this shul), and he didn't get out of there for awhile. I felt pretty foolish standing outside with my backpack on.
We got to the house we were eating lunch at by a little after 11 anyway, and they weren't ready for us because they thought we were coming later. They were such a nice family! I had met Sora Dina last Shabbos when I was walking home with Shifra Gitt, and she had called Shifra for our number. They moved to Israel 8 years ago when she was pregnant with their 6th child, and nefesh b'nefesh wasn't around to guide them through the aliyah process. Their kids were very sweet and helped their mother from setting the table to bringing out the food and then cleaning up. The older boys are normally at yeshiva but are home on break now, and the oldest girl is 17. She was telling me all the options she had for school next year. Baruch, the father, is originally from South Africa. We talked about how those of us who make aliyah just seem to have that spark inside us that makes us realize that Israel is our home and we need to be here. They've never gone back to the states in the 8 years they've been here! Their families come to Israel to visit them. Amazing.
David's going into Yerushalayim tomorrow night for a siyum at the convention center. He has a learning partner now every night, and that's the guy who's driving them. It'll be in English.
We finally got the tarp to put over the pergola on our large mirpeset. Just in the nick of time; we have a glider that we were going to sit on last night when we got home from dinner, but the pigeons beat us to it. At least on our smaller mirpesset we have our patio table with an umbrella and that seems to keep the pigeons from landing on the table or chairs.
Next Shabbos we're having company! Rivki, who's learning at Neve (a women's yeshiva) and got to Israel just before we did, is coming to stay with us. I hope Avital (also from St. Louis but has been here about 6 months already) will come also, but I haven't heard back from her yet. Rivki says she's working as a madricha (kind of a dorm mother) at Heritage House during their summer break from Neve. Heritage House is an outreach organization in the old city.
David keeps teaching me Hebrew nouns, and then later he'll ask me what the words are. Sometimes I remember...