As a part of our group activities, we did a Shabbaton in the Old City. For those that have been – you know that the Old City is very moving. I had, by this point, already been to the Old City twice, but this is SHABBOS! Ok, so I don’t want to pretend to sound excited when I’m not – but after a little consideration I realized that I don’t want to miss out on this. Jenna set up meals for us by her boss, Pamela and Aba Claman. Such great people! Though they don’t have children of their own, they have taken it upon themselves to adopt the men and women of the ENTIRE Israeli army and have them over for any and all Shabbos’. How beautiful, right? At the beginning of the night I’m not too thrilled to be there – and it all seems a little over the top. As we learn more about the lovely couple, their inner (and outer) beauty shines through.
A little of the “before” Shabbos…
Nicole and I are running like crazy from Tel Aviv to get to Jerusalem to get to the Old City…We finally get on an Egged, and make it to Tachana Merkazit Jerusalem, and hop on a last minute bus to get to Har Nof. Time for me to quickly shower (and for all you doubters out there – yes it’s possible for me to quickly shower, it just doesn’t usually happen…that’s a whole different story.). We prep ourselves for Shabbos and call a taxi – buses stop running an hour before Shabbos starts. Taxi time! (Please read that as – ugh gotta pay for a stupid taxi I don’t want to take…ladno) We get to the Old City and walk with Jenna to the Heritage House…
A little back story on the Heritage House – on my first trip to Israel, I arrived a little early for my JEWEL trip and Misha wanted to place me at the Heritage House. Thank G-d he didn’t. Though I appreciate their place, the bathrooms alone would have scared me for life. And, I should also mention that the spacing is not ideal…but back to the main story.
Nicole and I drop our stuff and do a mini-prep and leave. We walk over to the home of the Claman’s – it is HUGE. Especially for the Old City. They purchased an apartment building and rebuilt it to have a mansion with many rooms to accommodate as many guests as possible. WOW!
Back to Shabbos!
As we walked over to the home of the Claman family, I decide that I’m going to keep full shabbos – no phone, no electronics, nothing. It’s really not that hard, and in the end quite gratifying. We light candles, and then walk over to the Kotel to daven. We head back to their home for dinner after. I’m so hungry and tired, but since the food is supposed to be amazing, I try to stay awake. And it works during the first course, and most of the second. The mini-salads, appetizers and challah – omg it’s so good. And the meat – woah! It’s properly tender in all the right places, and so juicy. And they have sweet potato or squash – I can’t always tell when it’s made with certain sauces…But I just can’t keep my eyes open – and sneak away to Jenna’s room. I will mention that Jenna didn’t want us going there, but I was WAY to embarrassed to close my eyes for a “few” on the couch in the main room – I can secretly admit that I sometimes wheeze (NOT SNORE)…Since Jenna didn’t want us in there, I wanted to make as little of an impact as possible, so I fell asleep in the armchair at first. And when that became uncomfortable, I moved to the rug on the floor – YUP, that’s how tired I was. It was absolutely logical that I would sleep on the rug, so that I don’t mess up her room. Mind you, I was going on less than 2.5 hrs of sleep in the past 2 days – it’s very logical when you’re that tired. But, Nicole comes in and passes out on Jenna’s bed – hmph. I dunno, I couldn’t do that, but in the moment I was a little envious that I hadn’t done that. At the end of the meal, Jenna comes to collect us and we head back to the hostel. I barely manage to take my contacts out, and quickly change into pjs before I’m out cold. Oh how good it felt to sleep!
Before I continue, I want to mention that the table at the Claman’s was FULL of soldiers. They are so brave; tell us about themselves in a manner that lets us feel like we’re the amazing ones. These girls are strong in the heart and strong on the field. I speak with the captain of the girls, this little girl (Odeliya I’m so sorry!!!) barely weighing 125lbs at 5’6”. She has such deep brown eyes, full of wisdom and hope. There are a few other women from the army that I speak with who’s names I don’t recall, but each one is beautiful.
Since Jenna was collecting us in the morning, I slept and slept. Though the madricha at Heritage House tried to wake me, but to no avail. I remember hearing the girls telling her that we don’t need to be up at this point because Jenna was coming later to do so…Whatever, I rolled over and kept sleeping. Jenna arrives and it’s time to get up and make myself human-looking. I attempt to use the downstairs bathroom, but it smells so foul that I’m just not able to make myself go. Lauren tells me that the upstairs one isn’t as bad. I quickly get ready and a little while later we head back to Pamela’s.
Turns out that her husband wasn’t feeling well, so it was an all girls lunch. We helped set the table, and serve ourselves – as the staff went home late the night before and Pamela told them to come in late. During the lunch we went around the table and talked about where we each came from….And they started with me. Oy. I said my name and then right away Pamela said that my name is beautiful. I told the story of how hard it was for my mom to give me this name is the former Soviet Union. (I think all those that have access to this blog know the story – if you don’t, comment at the bottom and I will tell ya.)
We helped clean up after lunch, and wandered back to the Heritage House. Though I didn’t get to nap too much, I definitely enjoyed the lazy shabbos. Yea yea say what you will – but I kept FULL shabbos, and it was in the Old City. Sleeping is allowed…
For third meal we went back to the Claman house – this time for a different kind of meal. The soldier girls are back with us, and I sit with Odeliya again. After the meal, we do havdallah and dance around. It is probably my favorite memory of Shabbos in the recent past. These girls all join together – whether they speak English or not, whether we speak Hebrew or not – and we sing and dance to songs that we all know. Yiddishkeite has brought us together. At one point, the soldiers must leave – and it makes me so sad because we just started to get to know one another and I want to ask more questions.
During our third meal, a SUPER HOT (ex?) Israeli actor joins us. Turns out he was on a New York / Israel flight and happened to sit next to a very well known Rebbetzin. They started talking during the 10 hour flight, and when they arrived he went off to learn torah at Yeshivah. WOW. The power of words. Did I mention that he’s HOT? Ok, so maybe he’s not my type (he’s WAY too chiseled for me) but he’s dark and handsome and has the most beautiful…eyes (and butt) 🙂
As we’re leaving the Claman house, I ask Pamela for a bracha. She is so kind!
Alex and I head back to the Heritage House Hostel to pack our stuff. I’m so worn out from the last few days that I decide to take the sherut back to the dorms instead of sticking around the Old City.