Rehovot, Israel-- The weather has finally blossomed here and it is true what they say about it being the most beautiful time of year here in Israel. As our Birthright trip leader, Yinon, would say, "The sun is shining, the bird are singing, what a beautiful day." Ben and I are enjoying every minute in the sun, but don't worry Mom, we are drinking lots of water and I am diligent about sunscreen.
The Lowengrubs, dear friends of the Samson family, have been taking excellent care of us--we are so lucky that they were able to host us! Our seder with them was great, filled with love, meaning, delicious food, and a lot of joy. We were a total of fifteen people: seven Lowengrubs, Ben, me, and six Goldsteins (cousins from a nearby city). The Goldsteins are a crazy bunch who spontaneously burst into songs (often songs that they have written) It is very powerful to be in Israel for Passover, and everyone we've encountered has really relished the holiday.
Then there was the second Seder...For those of you who don't know, Passover began on Monday night, March 29. For Orthodox Jews not living in Israel, it is customary to have two days of Yom Tov at the beginning of the week and two days at the end of the week (actually the seventh and eighth day of Passover). Yom Tov, which literally translates to "Day Good," applies to holidays that do not take place on Shabbat, but for which many of the same Shabbat customs are observed. This means no electricity, driving, writing, etc. This discrepancy I believe stems from a time when it was impossible to be certain what day the new month began (Judaism follows a lunar calendar) and not wanting to celebrate a holiday on the wrong day. Now, even though we don't rely an Israeli high court to spread the message of which day is correct, we still uphold the tradition of two days. (This is my attempt at an abridged version.)
As Jews who are from the good ole USA, we personally hold the tradition of having a second day even though we are in Israel. That's all fine and good except it is REALLY hard to find other people who need to/want to observe a second Seder on the second night. The Lowengrubs spread the word, but as the first day drew to a close, we still had no seder to attend. Then, just in the nick of time, we got a message that the Shulls. a South African family from down the street. was having a seder for their son visiting from NYC. The son Gabi and his fiancée, Chaya, were a really nice, but we were joined by Gabi's daughter, Chani, who was a terror. She yelled about the seating, refused to ask her questions/ sing her songs and yelled about why the "chocolate frogs don't have tails." Then she downed three cups of grapejuice after dipping her whole hand in one and swirling it around. As we were leaving, she came in from the bathroom where she had been taking a bath and ran around naked, yelling "Tushy Tushy Tushy" and forcing everyone to look at her naked bum.
Thursday, Daniel and two of his friends took us on a really nice hike in the Ein Gedi region of Israel, towards the south. We thought it would be 14K in the hot sun, but one friend was not so keen on nature, so we cut it a bit short. It ended up being a sort of relaxing tour of some interesting Israeli topography, except for the loooong rope bridge across a river, a la Indiana Jones. We ended the day with a yummy barbeque on a "mangal," or disposable grill kit, and an extended session of good old American baseball...well, catch.
Other than that, we've been reading, drawing (Ben), playing tennis, lots of walking, and just enjoying the company. Our time has flown by and we are using every last minute before Shabbos to write this post. Hope to fill in any details and links soon.
Love to all!
P.S. We must admit that we are a little disappointed with the lack of comments on our Bob Marley reference. We just like to know that people are listening.