Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Highs on the Holidays

Yom Kippur went better than expected. My kids were asking me all sorts of questions - like my still AWOL son asking me - 

"Mom, what will happen if I break the fast?"

"Nothing really. You just won't feel quite part of the community at large if you do, but you'll feel really good if you don't break your fast. Like you'll have this amazing 'yay! I did it' moment."

My growling Hubby was continously reminding me of one sin in particular that I do (going to Arab homes/restaurants to eat their "halal" meat), so I left him at home to seethe with my sins in mind, while I went to synagogue for Kol Nidre services. I hadn't gone seriously to synagogue for Yom Kippur in years because I can't follow the Kurdish, Yemenite, Moroccan, Iraqi, Syrian services that are all over the place in my neighborhood, plus the familiar Ashkenazi one is too dry with all those perfect "real housewives of Maaleh Adumim". I don't fit in. Period. But a Conservative congregation just sprung up over the past year and they were really trying to make a go of it in this mostly Orthodox-ruled enclave. Afraid that it was going to be just a ho-hum service, I was happily surprised. For one, they began with three people, each doing a different version of Kol Nidre. The energy was good, inclusive and happy. They mixed in a bit of Sephardic (middle-eastern) melodic liturgy which I was thrilled to sing along to and was able to easily follow. It felt like family. After all, isn't this exactly what my family has become with my daughters all marrying/dating into Sephardic families from Tunisia, Turkey, Spain and Morocco? So I really felt a kinship with the service and with the congregants who were also a mixture of Jews from all over the place, albeit without any Ethiopians. The next day I attended the "Neila" closing service, which was led beautifully by an Orthodox woman who was open-minded enough to do the service in front of a mixed-seated crowd (Conservative congregations have mixed gender seating, as opposed to Orthodox, which separate men and women during services). People brought cakes, fruit and soft drinks to break their fast and it was lovely to mingle afterwards with this very friendly new-found community.  I brought in the Muslim Ramadan custom of breaking the fast with a date and water and explained this custom to a few people.

Sukkot is probably my favorite holiday because I get off from work, and there are no restrictions on what you can eat, like there is on Passover. Having all meals in the sukkah with my kids and their friends smoking nargilahs in the sukkah make it very enjoyable.

On the first day, I trotted off to Tel Aviv rather early in mid-afternoon. I wanted to see the sunset over the port, which is always breathtaking and I knew that people would be in the holiday spirit ( would be crowded everywhere). We caught the last bit of sunset over the boardwalk
and wandered over to the indoor food market

where there were a few unique restaurants and sat ourselves down to the tapas bar and had a couple of dishes.
Grilled okra with zucchini and eggplant on the bottom

Even though I don't eat seafood, the grilled calamari that the man sitting next to me ordered looked so incredibly delicious, I felt like grabbing it off his plate, when he wasn't looking...just to taste...but I did control myself.  I did.

Walking around the port several times, we revelled in the hustle and bustle of the happy holiday spirit that was all over the place before heading over to Reading 3 for a concert (to be continued...).

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