Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Shabbos walk around the Knesset? A Capitol idea!

If you don't get that, you need to realize that the Knesset is the Israeli Capitol building, and further that the latter phrase is a homophonous play on an old-timey expression. Whoa, I haven't used the term homophone since 1st Grade (Yeah, I was in the honors class when I was 6...).

Before I get into that I would like to mention the day before. Friday I used my oven for the first time for something made from scratch. I made a deli-roll for shabbos dinner which was probably the best I ever made. It included: cervelat salami, beef shoulder, and "Mexican" turkey, had a smear of a mustard and mayonaise mixture, both inside and on top, the latter of which I also sprinkled with a light amount of za'atar, tumeric, and sweet paprika. The puff pastry is much larger in Israel so I didn't have to flatten it out, which led to a much more doughy dough. It was very gooey and very good.

For Friday night services my flatmate took me to the Bratzlaver Shul, to which only two actual Bratzlavers belong. It was not what I was expecting (ie, it was not deep in the woods with a lot of screaming at trees), instead is was a service in Nusach Sfard, with one person in the back yelling and clapping his hands, but no one else. Also everyone mumbled their prayers slightly aloud.

Shira will appreciate this one: In attendance at this synagogue, in addition to other people I knew such as former campers) was none other than Rabbi David Weiss-Halivni. I talked to him after services and he invited me to come visit and sit in on one of his lectures at Bar-Ilan or Hebrew University. What topic is the class on? Who cares, It's Prof Halivni, anything he says is interesting. Of course, when I was in his class, interest didn't stop us from ignoring him and talking the entire class...

Now to the morning: I went with our houseguest to the Ariel Shul. It was a nice service and a quick one at that. I got out at 10:30 and decided to take a nice long Shabbos walk before lunch, tallis bag in tow. What a glorious day! The weather was outstanding! I took a walk through the Botanical Garden up to the knesset and its environs.

Upon exiting the gardens, I arrived at the parking lot of the Israel Museum which includes
The Shrine of the Book which contains the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered 60 years ago in caves by Qumran. I was quite surprised that they were open today, I followed a religious Jew who was walking in that direction and I thought that it might be free on Shabbat. I'm not sure if that is the case and I decided not to investigate.

I instead proceeded toward and past the knesset, past the new Flower Clock, which looks like it came out of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch (the one in Israel is better and has a seconds hand), and toward the visitors entrance to the Knesset. Instead of going toward the entrance, I hooked a left into the Wohl National Rose Garden. This rose garden is absolutely spectacular. I am going to keep it in mind as a very romantic date place and a place for a Shabbos picnic (I like Shabbos picnics...). It is not in bloom yet, but spring approaches, and this 2003 World's Greatest Rose Garden winner is already beautiful. Within it is the Garden of Nations which the Christian nations of the world (ok, just nations that are non-Musim...) have donated and dedicated various tracts of land on this 75 dunam park to plant roses and various sculptures. There is a beautiful pagoda donated by Japan that contains within it the flag of Israel, and a rock inscribed with Japanese calligraphy.

After spending a while in the park I went to see the National Symbol of Israel, the Menorah, which was donated by the people of Great Britain. It was sculpted in bronze by Benno Elkan. It took 8 years to sculpt (I remarked that the First Temple only took 7, including its Golden Menorah). Even though I had gone there 9 years ago, I didn't realize that there are a bunch of friezes depicting various events in Jewish history. There's this guy there who gives free tours of it on Shabbat (and has been doing it for 25 years) and he was very nice and I guessed most of the friezes depicted upon it. Can you guess the friezes that are depicted upon it?

Then I went home, had lunch, napped, and here I am...

Shavuah Tov,

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