JJC Israel Journey Day 9
Breakfast in Israel (and more specifically in Israeli hotels) has no equal. People may talk about the great Schwarma or Falafal joint, but as we know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Each hotel tried to outdo the other- in Hagoshrim, a kibbutz known for its hospitality, we have pizza, fish, chocolate milk, shakshusha, fresh fruits and vegetables, cakes and more. What’s most interesting to me is the chaotic beauty of watching people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds (a large Muslim guest list) all eat together. Food does seem to be able to bring people to the table!We also happen to bump into a native Jacksonvillian, Bobby Brochin, who was childhood friends with Bruce Horovitz!
On our way to Tzefat (or Safed, or Zafed, or Zafad), we make two pit stops. The first is the Naot factory store- a place I went to on Ramah Seminar, but during my rebel phase, when I refused to watch Titanic or wear sandals like everyone else my age, I never even entered the store. I’ll be sporting from stylish shoes next week for Israel Shabbat. My how times have changed!!
Our second stop is in the border kibbutz Malkiya, steps from the Lebanese border. The head of security describes the matzav (mood)- there are two things he prides his community on- strength and identity. The kids are happy running around outside while we get a tour of one of the bomb shelters decorated with wall to wall animal murals. He is honest with us- when they do use the bomb shelter, all bets are off- up above everyone is cordial, but if two families share a tight space below ground, bickering is a common language. Moral boosts are a must- it reminded me of the film Rock in the Red Zone!
We meet a few soldiers who appreciate our gifts before heading to the base itself to meet with more soldiers.
I encounter my long lost son; or kindred spirit; or 2nd doppelgänger. Barak is in the Golani brigade (check out Facebook for pictures) but is a trained musician who has played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center! My first doppelgänger experience was at an A Capella festival- who knew lookalikes had talentalikes!?
We head to the center of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism (think life is like an onion), the city of Joseph Karo and Isaac Luria, the city where I once searched for 7 hours in a cemetery looking for my great grandfather’s grave only to realize it had been destroyed during an early 20th century earthquake, the city of Safed, the city where “anything can happen.”
We walk through the artist section of the old city, where I highlight a great micro calligrapher, who shows us the entire Torah written out in one painting. I stop by a familiar art gallery and notice a painting of a familiar face- the artist Kaszemacher. The gallery owner asks me to stop taking a picture, thinking I’m taking a picture of his works. I tell him I am taking a picture of the man (see below), since my family met him on multiple occasions. Kaszemacher passed away a few years ago, but have painted an photographed even after he became blind. I tell him how 25+ years ago we used to get a tour of Kaszemacher’s studio across the street as he explained the meaning behind his work. The man appreciates my own appreciation of the artist. The man is his son.
I look through many of the galleries and find one with 200 hebrew name charms for females. No Dafna. No Rena. No Leora (photo attached) What is the world coming to?!
We meet with an expat Avraham, who gives us a brief summary of Kabbalah and how it inspires his own work. He talks about the power of a name and how each letter is intertwined into the Kabbalah map outlined in the Zohar. He shows us a series of paintings which are the computer imprint of the sound waves of the 100 shofar blasts we make on Rosh Hashana.
We tour two of the Safed shuls, including one of 4 Ari (Isaac Luria) shuls that had been bombed.
Dinner is at the Adin winery, preceded by a delicious wine and cheese tasting. When we return to Hagoshrim, we finally get the darbouka out for some festive singing and dancing. We also get to taste the date liquor I had purchased from the olive Oil factory! Highlights of our kumzitz include Shabchi
And our Israeli dance set, including Mayim, since we love drinking copious amounts of water!
Tomorrow is our last day (technically we have 30 minutes between midnight and 12:30am on Friday as well). It is great to see how much everyone has enjoyed the experience and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say next week at our Israel celebration Shabbat!