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A Sweet Goodbye


 
The day was so clear
we could see down to Jordan.
Saturday, January 2, 2010

today (Shabbat) was a free day, so everyone did different things. The Janovers and Kahanes, together with Avi and Rabbi Goldsmith, spent the morning walking through the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. After a lunch of hummus and falafel at Abu Shukri (one of my favorite places to eat), they did a little shopping and visited the Israel Museum. The Schenkers went to the Jerusalem Zoo, where according to Olivia there were lots of baby animals, even baby kangaroos. The Cohns, as I heard it, had a lazy day that mainly revolved around taking in the sun. (It was an uncommonly warm day for January in Jerusalem.)

I “super-sized” my experience of home hospitality in Mevasseret Zion from the previous night and slept over in the home of old friends — not that Howie isn’t a great roommate, but I didn’t mind having a guest room to myself. I ended up meeting practically their whole family. Dinner was with the grandparents in Mevasseret. One brother, who is a musician, recently discovered the Reform synagogue in Mevasseret and now is attending regularly (much to the chagrin of his very secular wife, who is hoping this is just a phase). I showed him how to play some of the melodies from the service on the guitar. Another brother and his family were on their way back to Rhode Island, where they have been living for 20 years, and all the siblings were teasing them, “When are you coming back home to stay?”

In the morning, we went for a long walk, and my friend showed me the grove where the kindergarten had planted trees the previous Tu BiSh’vat. “Which one was the one we planted?” he asked, and his son shouted, “That one — the biggest one!” The almond trees were blossoming, and the weather was so clear you could see all the way down to the Mediterranean. In the afternoon, another friend picked me up in his car, and we drove up to the Old City in Jerusalem for some last-minute shopping and a snack of kanafe and mint tea.

The group met up again in the evening for a Havdalah service, transitioning out of our restful Shabbat and also our time in Israel. Everyone shared powerful memories from the past week, such as looking out on the Syrian border from the Golan Heights, having dinner with an Israeli family and crawling through Maccabean caves as part of the archaeological dig. We concluded our trip with another delicious dinner, featuring hilarious skits by the kids about each day of our time together in Israel. With hugs all around the table, we headed back to the hotel to pack our bags for early flights to the U.S.A. on Sunday morning. But before leaving, plans for meeting up again already were being made, with some families vowing that they’d be meeting Sunday night for Chinese food.

— Saul Kaiserman


Back to Israel Journal (2009)


Click on the thumbnails below to download and print
larger versions of the photos.


Avi shows a diagram of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Avi shows a diagram of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Preparing to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a tour with Avi
Preparing to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for a tour with Avi
Exploring every nook and crannie of the church
Exploring every nook and crannie of the church
The Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls
A model of Second Temple Jerusalem (circa 30 CE)
A model of Second Temple Jerusalem (circa 30 CE)
Some time for shopping in the Arab Quarter of the Old City
Some time for shopping in the Arab Quarter of the Old City
The sun sets on our wonderful time together in Israel.
The sun sets on our wonderful time together in Israel.
Enjoying a final meal together!
Enjoying a final meal together!
The kids recap the trip with a great skit at our closing dinner.
The kids recap the trip with a great skit at our closing dinner.
Taking in the nightime view of Jerusalem's walls after our closing ceremony and Havdalah service
Taking in the nightime view of Jerusalem's walls after our closing ceremony and Havdalah service
The next morning we all head to the airport with suitcases full of wonderful memories.
The next morning we all head to the airport with suitcases full of wonderful memories.