Monday, July 8, 2019

A Month of Vacation in a Week

5 Tamuz 5779.

Last week was one for the books -- a whole summer vacation in just a few days, Israeli-style.

Yom rishon (Sunday) was lit and colored by the Jerusalem Light Festival.

After an enjoyable meal with friends at a restaurant in Mahane Yehuda called Ishtabach serving fascinating Syrian meat dishes inside delicious pastry, we walked through the holy City to join the "blue route" of the tour. (There are also a green and red route, which may be interesting if we ever attend more than one evening.)

Each year, this well-attended event seems to get better and more creative. This year there were people dressed in mosaics of mirrors, fairy princesses and unicorns laced with lights raised above the crowd on stilts, explosions of light in the sky above, groups of young musicians playing jazz that would make their grandparents proud, and the trademark stories projected on Old City stones.

You say APC, we say Warrior Taxi.
On yom sheni (Monday), the Dearly Beloved and I enjoyed the IDF Tour at First Station in Jerusalem. We didn't expect much. A few tanks, maybe; a little history about the military's contributions to building and protecting Medinat Yisrael.

We were quite surprised by the hour-long interactive program aimed, we were sure, at persuading young people that their future required military service might be more fun than burdensome. There were stations with computer consoles beckoning young competitors to polish off enemy ships, opportunities to virtually see and feel flight and parachuting and undersea combat. The room was filled with budding heroes proving to their parents that time on video games such as Armored Brigade and Warhammer is not entirely wasted.

I was surprised by how deeply moved I was by the short film about the IDF's role in the creation of the State, as well as its many necessary wars and operations to defend our home. Even though I know the history, the video was well-made, eliciting all my emotional support for the job our boys and girls must continue to do.

After the show, we had an excellent meal at Lehem Basar (aka Meet and Eat, illustrating once again that literal translations often miss the mark). We have found that the secret to dining out on our budget is to always choose the business lunch special, and sometimes to take advantage of the only-in-Israel option to split a meal. (I say "only" without knowing if this is allowed in other countries. My experience is that in the US and Germany, we were not allowed this privilege.)

Over yom shlishi and yom revi'i (Tuesday and Wednesday), I had the last-minute pleasure of going to the Galil with gal-pals and staying at a cabin in Yavniel.

What a beautiful and inspiring adventure! We hiked along Nahal Amud -- something my body reminded me for a full five days after the one-day outing it hadn't done in decades! -- and enjoyed the cabin, pool and lovely catered breakfast like wealthy college girls. Every few years, a girl's gotta experience a little luxury...

Enough already, right? Not a bit of it.

We met our dear mehutanim on yom chamishi (Thursday) for lunch at Pat Bamelach Bakery and Restaurant in Efrat to catch up on our summer travels and adventures, and to share stories about and photos of our kids and grandkids. The food was excellent, the company, as always, divine.

We capped the evening and the week with a trip to Tekoa for the annual Beer Festival. Being aware of the need to conserve funds, the Dearly Beloved and I were satisfied to "spend" only the complimentary first beer chits that came with the exorbitant entrance fee (and we split the free beer our hostess/driver chose not to drink). It was a fun evening with music surprisingly not-ear-splitting, due to the layout, and a very Woodstock feel, with huge mats spread on the ground for sitting, and booths pitching homemade crafts and food.

There were families everywhere, many young people and older folk communing together -- exactly what we've come to love about the atmosphere of Tekoa. A special bonus was meeting friends who have been only virtual for a few years. Though I love the access to the world the internet provides, it is always special to meet "old friends" for the first time in real life. As entertaining as the festival was, the best part of the adventure was visiting our hosts in their home, shmoozing over their kitchen counter. A reminder that one needn't go far from home to participate in what matters most.

We had a quiet at-home yom shishi (Friday) and Shabbat to recuperate from our adventures, even though our "at-home" on Shabbat included an excellent English-language shiur across the street and an open-house visit to share the joy of friends in their new home. May they enjoy their time in this new apartment in good health, surrounded by people who love them, for as long as it suits them!

Of course, we spent our entire monthly allowance (and then some!) for entertainment in one week. Let's call it this year's summer vacation. Time to settle down, and get some work done, and shepherd the shkalim.

Besides -- I enjoyed the Yavniel adventure so much that the Dearly Beloved was prompted to say, "Feel like going to the cabin for your birthday?"

Well -- YESH.

Medinat Yisrael - the State of Israel / Lehem Basar - literally "bread meat" / Nahal - stream / mehutanim - the other set of parents of our married children / shiur - Torah lecture or class / shkalim - shekels / YESH - Israeli slang for the American slang expression, "heck, YEAH!"