Several days, one entry

OK, you try to find an internet hookup in the hills of Galilee.

This weekend was not just a retreat to the hills overlooking the Sea of G, but my first ever Yom Kippur.

Today is 10/4/03. It is now 10:38 PM

I am sitting on a hill in the town of Poriyya, above the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. the Kinneret), which I cannot see right now due to it being night-time. It is the sort of body of water that only a desert-dwelling people could name a “Sea.” Really, it is a very, very big lake. Fresh-water and everything. Israel gets most of its fresh water supply from this sea.

Right in front of me, five or so miles away and at the bottom of the hills, is the city of Tiveriah (Tiberias), one of the four holy cities of Israel. The other three are Safed, Jerusalem, and, um….. I should know this.

Across the Kinneret, and up that hill, beyond the few lights there, is Jordan. I can’t really see it now, but I know it’s there.

Even though it’s late at night, the work for the Yom Kippur Services is just beginning. A great many people will come here some time before noon tomorrow. The planners (and me) are in a comfortable after-dinner (for me: spaghetti, hummus, tuna salad) circle on the lawn, cricket songs well underway.

I drove up, following Chaya, with Azriel and Natan, who are doing some of the planning. Some of the hill highways here are a tad on the challenging side, but I am up to it.

My Eternal Roommate, Dafna, and I are staying in room #44, with 2 other girls. There is also a small Scottie running around, whose name is Tom — a name that means “innocent” in Hebrew. I do not know where he’s staying. Dafna, bless her eternally and may the light shine forever before her toes, has exactly the power adapter I need for Fluffy the Computer here. I broke mine last night the first time I tried to use it. It was a perfect power adapter, too. I shall miss it.

Soon it will be time for me to sneak away and get my suitcase from the car and lug all my stuff to the room.

Today is 10/5/03. It is now 10:51 AM

I live in a cabin with 3 females, 2 males. One of the males is Tom the Dog. The other isn’t. And they all, including the dog, like staying up and partying even later than me, which is saying something, since I was up till 2:30 watching CSI videos and reading e-books. It took me that long to even decide to try to sleep — my internal clock is off by that much. I brought melantonin to take, but I’m too lazy to take it.

Just dragged myself awake and dressed.

The Kinneret is flat and blue. Air is humid and warm.

Birds: Last night, heard an eagle owl. Yesterday, saw a Palestinian sunbird. Cats: today, a small black male cat has decided I’m his friend. Lots of cats (and dogs and cows and goats and sheep and horses) live out here wild. But the cats, at least, are totally friendly to humans. The cat was just curled on my lap while I was giving Azriel a tour of my computer.

Azriel and Gabriel are working on the music with Gaby’s guitar now. Dafna is off doing errands, and the rabbi has yet to show his nose. 11:20:23 AM

11:51:53 AM: People arrive. All in one chunk, from the bus. I play Gabriel Meyer’s CD on iTunes while writing this — special Bayit Chadash CD. Tom the Dog is a bit confused by the crowd.

Today is 10/6/03. It is now 6:32 PM

Yom Kippur, and the feasting that follows it, is now over. Well, the feasting is over for me at least, since a feast for me is a snack for other people.

Before Yom Kippur started, we all went down the hill to the Kinneret for a mikvah. The water was so lovely, and I had not brought a bathing suit, so I swam in my undies. Surprisingly, this did not startle a lot of people. They were busy ducking themselves underwater, anyway. Perfect, warm water. Small swimmy things in it, but no leeches that I could tell. I saw some small egrets there — tiny and white and terribly serene.

After dinner, the fast for Yom Kippur started. I found myself going along with it, and actually did a proper Yom Kippur fast. I did drink water, though. The people whose house we ate Shabbat dinner with had told me that I should do one thing wrong, because, since I’m not Jewish yet, it would be bad luck for me to follow exactly everything right. So I drank water. But that was it — I even let Fluffy the Computer sit stewing all day, sleeping on battery power.

It was a day of reflection, as it probably should be, today. And I found that any fast is easier to get through if you sleep through a lot of it. Many others had come to the same conclusion.

So I have broken my fast, and drunk a bit of wine, and I recline on my bunk amidst the mess that it takes 7 people and a dog sleeping in one room to make. (We did run out of toilet paper — I hope it wasn’t the dog.)

Dafna and Shai consume mass quantities over on Shai’s bed while listening to Fluffy play Jimi Hendrix. Eventually I have to pack, which should not be too hard, since I unpacked very little. The problem will be actually finding my things. Do not forget the car keys. Do not forget the car keys.

I will go pack now.

Today is 10/7/03. It is now 2:35 AM

It surprised me to find out just how many places there are open in Jerusalem after midnight. I thought we would all go home once we got to Jerusalem, but no. First, the rabbi’s son had to be dropped off at a friend’s house, and then we had to go, so Azriel and Natan said, to the Angel Bakery. Open All Nite, as they say in the USA. It’s where the yeshiva kids, who are up studying all night, go to fortify themselves with carbohydrates. Fresh rugelach.

Serious Jerusalem stuff, here. Tourists don’t find this sort of place. Because they’re all asleep. Right. Then, off to a small intersection in a scrubbier part of town with about five (possibly nameless) eateries, specializing in the slow roasting or quick grilling of some of our bovine friends. Nummy. Including the Carlsberg that went with it all. I figured I deserved it, at least.

So I am back now in my room at A Little House in Bakah. That’s the name of the bed and breakfast I always stay at. Good basic rooms. Clean bathrooms with proper plumbing. Cable TV with American stations.

I ain’t trading this for a suite at the King David.