Shavua tov! (1)

May 2010 003Jerusalem, June 2011 022-1

These are inside and outside views of our apartment in the Greek Colony (same windows in each). I myself have not taken any photos yet (these were provided by the owner), though I am anxious to take some shots of all the political posters around town, Israeli elections being held in a couple of weeks.

Chaim and I had a wonderful, relaxed Shabbat, catching up on much-needed sleep and hoping that our internal clocks are now in the right time zone. Last night we attended a vibrant Reform synagogue (named Kol HaNeshama), about a 15 minute walk from our apartment, which was my home congregation during my first year of rabbinical school in Jerusalem. Next to me sat a young Muslim woman from Jerusalem who was there with a group of young Jews and Muslims from Israel and Long Island, NY. The group is called Hamsa, a joint project of the Suffolk Y on Long Island and a Jerusalem youth center, and I was very moved especially when we sang the song “Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu/Peace will still come upon us” in which there is a stanza in which we sing “Shalom! Salaam!” To sing that song while sitting next to an Israeli Arab brought tears to my eyes. (Perhaps you can tell that I’ve been tearing up a lot so far on this trip!)

This morning that sense of hopeful possibility for peace between Arab and Jew continued at Kol HaNeshama, because the head judge of the shariya court in Jerusalem, Kadi (Judge) Iyad Zahalka, gave the sermon. The Torah portion today, the first in the Book of Exodus, speaks about Moses’ commission as prophet. The Kadi’s sermon was entitled “Moses (Mussa, in Arabic) the Prophet as Understood by Islam.” This was the Kadi’s first time speaking in a synagogue, and I hope it won’t be his last. Even with my non-fluent Hebrew, I was impressed by his knowledge of Torah and its similarities and differences with the Koran, and how the sharing of Moses between our cultures can provide a bridge of understanding. For anyone interested in Moses in Islam, go to Surah 28:7-43 in the Koran. This is the passage he shared with us.

For more information about this liberal Kadi and the courts, read the blog of my colleague Rabbi Ron Kronish, director of the Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel at

By the way (just to name-drop), sitting in front of us in synagogue this morning were Dan Shapiro, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief. I also ran into Rabbi Michael Marmur whom I was able to thank for an important and prescient pre-9/11/01 phone teaching he had offered me (and a group of rabbis) about 5 typologies of fear, based on a passage in Talmud Shabbat 77b. That teaching became the basis of my High Holy Day sermon that year post-9/11, and I have returned to it time and again in my Mussar studies and teachings about fear and equanimity.

In addition to Shabbat’s spiritual take-aways from synagogue, we were enriched by the company we kept over our Shabbat meals. My dear friend Bili (who has complicated my life by now writing her name in English as Billy, which I refuse to do after 40+ years of writing Bili) helped us inaugurate our temporary home by coming for Shabbat dinner. She caught me up on her family (which was my family-away-from-home during my visits to Israel, starting with a semester during my junior year of college) and her journalist husband, Mats (a Swede currently back in Sweden working on a film about a Swedish diplomat named Folke Bernadotte who was responsible for the release of about 31,000 prisoners from German concentration camps during WWII, but who was assassinated by a radical Zionist group in 1948).  Bili herself works for Israeli t.v. in the archives department (which is how she and Mats originally met, when he first came to Israel in the 90’s to research Bernadotte.)

Today Chaim and I spent Shabbat lunch with my friend Susan (a Reform rabbi who was in my rabbinical school class) and her family. She and Yosef have 5 children ranging in age from 9-20, two of whom were adopted from Ethiopia.  Susan is a writer and Yossi is working in the solar energy field. It was truly wonderful to be with them, and Susan offered me the opportunity to parallel play with her any time I want — that we meet in a cafe and each work on our writing. She also invited me this week to join her for the inaugural meeting of a Rabbis and Comics Torah Study Group that she is starting.

I will report back on any and all jokes that are worth passing on!

I almost forgot to mention that is has been pouring rain all day (and now into the night). As Yossi said to us as we walked through the rain to his home from synagogue, “In the desert, the more rain, the more peace.” If I can find a cheap raincoat, I will say, Amen to that!


2 thoughts on “Shavua tov! (1)

  1. Hi Pam! How exciting! Let me say, I am really enjoying reading your daily blogs! Your apt. looks lovely. I loved reading about your emotional responses to each part of your adventure. You mentioned Debra Freidman….I always loved the tune to “Lahila” (sp?), and figured it out on the piano. (not fancy, but simple and pretty) The sheet music is maybe available someplace, I’ve googled other things and found some, but I like to try and figure it out, it’s good practice. I played it when Emmy was here (remember I said we used to sing it when I kissed her goodnight?), and she cried. Well, enjoy the week, and give Chaim my best. xoxo, Roberta


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s