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Monday, August 12, 2013

Ted’s Aliyah, Day 4

Again, this is not MY writing, it is the only-slightly-deranged musings of my very talented husband, Teddy (Akiva) MacLeod.  If you like his writing, check out his art (sort of!).

   IMG_00002393Day Four of the Israel Initiative
Okay, there you go! Our first Shabbos in Kiryat Yam, what an… interesting experience! Last night I was sent out to find a shul (synagogue) that someone told Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod was just down the street at number 25. Only problem is that none of the apartments or houses or whatever has an address written on it! It’s like no-one wants anyone to know where they live. So I walked up the street looking for a shul among a group of dingy apartments. (This really isn’t the richest part of town. Compared to Haifa next door, with its amazing architecture and quaint shops, Kiryat Yam is a bit ghetto)
Suddenly, boom! Like somebody plopped this beautiful building down from heaven, there was this grand, menorah topped entranceway to a clean, spacious courtyard leading into a stately entrance of a shul. “This must be the place” I thought, “that, or a great movie set for some probably tragic, Jewish movie.”
I went in with my little English translated siddur (prayer book), sat down and scanned through my book to see if I could find out where the congregation was in the davening (prayer service). And so I’m scanning and scanning, still waiting to see if I can pick up any key Hebrew words that will indicate where they are. And I was scanning for a really long time before I finally heard the beginning of the Shabbot night prayers. There was like 20 minutes of stuff that I’ve never heard before. What kind of a place had I stumbled into???
I went home to tell Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod about how this crazy place added about 30 to 40 minutes of material that was in MY book. “Are they Ashkenazi?” Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod asked. I wasn’t sure, but I said I would go back the next morning and look a little closer to see there were any clues to indicate that the heck was going on.
The next morning I sat there again and yes, right away they were adding more material. One guy came up to me out of the blue with a basket of little velvet pouches and said “take one” in Hebrew. I gave him the international expression of “what-is-this-for”? “Bar mitzvah” he said and walked away. The pouch was filled with candies, so maybe you are supposed to throw them at the bar mitzvah boy, as is traditionally done? But then I saw that all the men were putting the pouches away for later. When things started to get going, the women began to throw more candies, which maybe because there weren’t too many kids around, the men picked them up and also kept them for themselves. Crazy!
So I noticed the following things. Not too many kids around. Weird. The men there all looked like burly construction workers. It actually reminded me of the movie Goodfellas with all those mafia hitmen. Then there were a bunch of guys doing sign-language all over the place. Was it the Deaf Guy Construction Workers Shul? Or something far sinister???
The good thing about it all was the Kiddush (lunch after the services). They had a large table full of all sort of amazing treats and delicacies that I have never seen before. THEE freshest, light rolls and little sweet buns and cakes and small mini-bowls full of some creamy delight and… so MUCH STUFF that you don’t see in Canada!
Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod and the kids came just as the food was being served, “good timing” I thought. Oh yeah, the davening ended at 10:00 AM, so the whole day was still ahead of us!!! The kids split this giant, fluffy cupcake and fought briefly over the cherry on top, but they were quite content. I myself tried about five different pastries and downed it with about a litre of water in one gulp.
Which reminds me… How can I drink two litres of water on average, every day now and never really have to go to the bathroom? It is quite the mystery. I know that I wrote about arriving here and sweating like a stuck pig, but after that first day, I don’t really sweat like that anymore. Sure, I will start perspiring if I put on more than two shirts at a time, but thankfully, I’m pretty dry except for the occasional moist upper lip if I am in a room without a fan.
We spent the rest of the day walking around, locating various playgrounds for the kiddies and just enjoying the cooling, ocean breeze on a hot day. At one park, Naomi was suddenly surrounded by a dozen girls who wanted to play with her. They tried to explain the rules of some complicated game of Tag with her, using Tzivia Jennifer MacLeod as their Hebrew interpreter, but I think that overwhelmed Naomi and she went all shy on them.
After Shabbos, we were completely out of bottled water, (we haven’t worked up the courage to drink the tap water yet. I’m holding out until we can get a Brita water filter deal), so I walked up to the local corner store to pick 3 two litre bottles. On the way back I saw this pizza place buzzing with people so I went in and brought home a large, double cheese pizza for Tzivia and I to share. (Double cheese, kosher and very delicious for only $12, not bad!)
So that’s it. Judge my life as you see fit.

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