Because this one was jam-packed with bizarre, positive, negative, and interesting.
It was a sabbath surrounded by two blackouts, randomly meeting a relative, following the path of a Jew who is also not a Jew, and eating what looked suspiciously like chometz (but wasn't!)
On friday afternoon I decided to check out the Good Friday observances in the Old City, just as an onlooker, of course, for the 14 stations of the cross. I wasn't going to go to the last 5 because there was no way I would go back into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but I did take a look at stations 3-8 on Via Dolorosa. I got there too late for the throngs of crowds, but I saw people pausing and praying at the various marked sites. VIII was literally a hole-in-the-wall. Nobody bearing a cross or being whipped (I arrived too late for that) but was interesting nonetheless. I also found maps of Israel that show it all as Palestine. Forget pre-67 borders, some of them want us pushed into the sea...
We davened at the Great Synagogue, where I ran into a number of friends. My mother remarked (in what I am awarding Quote-of-the-Day), "God, you know everyone here; you're like the mayor of Jerusalem." Following services, I talked with Cantor Eli Jaffe, the conductor of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir and creator of the CDs from which I learned how to lead High Holiday services, and he wants me to try-out for the Choir! Some guy tapped me on the shoulder as my dad was telling me how great Chief Cantor Naftali Hershtik was and said "He was good, but not as good as you". I was a bit confused until he told me that he heard me the day before leading Tal at the Wall (hey, it rhymes). I am constantly flattered by people talking about my voice. Everyone suggests I become a Chazzan. Hmm...
I went to my parents' hotel room for Shabbos Dinner, right across the street from the Great Synagogue. There was a blackout after we finished eating. At least there was a backup generator or it would be pitch black. Thank God the Shabbos Elevator was still working (I was on the 13th floor... yes there are 13th floors in Israel, it's not a bad luck number here), and it went back on just as I was leaving... I took the stairs down anyway, just to be safe. The apartment building next door to the hotel, at around 11:30 at night as I was leaving, it was pitch black there yet I heard joyous voices singing zmirot. As I passed the lights in the building turned back on. They didn't miss a beat and kept on singing. There were kids as I passed other places sitting outside their balcony and singing a spirited "Anachnu Maaminim Bnei Maaminim" by MBD. There was a blackout (aka hafsakat chashmal, the name of one of my favorite Kaveret songs) in Rechavia (and the traffic lights remained out... scary...) but the spirited sabbath mood was not extinguished.
The other blackout was when I tried to turn on the lights tonight and everything in my apartment went out. Actually I think it is a brown out because only one light remained.
I spent the afternoon watching dogs running around in the park below the hotel room. It was hypnotic, I don't know why I kept watching.
My father was walking into a store this Motzei Shabbos in our hotel, a shop that sells CDs and DVDs. He talked to the woman who runs the shop, a 22 year old girl from Scranton, PA. He said, "oh, we have some cousins who live in scranton, last name is Rutta". She turned white and said that that was her last name. Whoa, we found a cousin in Israel from my father's side. That was so cool!
For dinner tonight we went to a restaurant that translates as "Little Italy". They had kosher for pesach pizza and pasta. Whoa! It does not feel like pesach here, having eaten rolls and pizza and lasagna and wafers. No sirree bob, and I feel sorry for those outside of Israel that have to suffer from a lasagnaless Passover. "Diaspora" translates as "crappy pesach food".
Shavuah Tov, Moadim L'Simcha (Chagim U'zmanim L'Sason, et Yom Chag HaMatzot ha-zeh-eh-eh...