Shabbat in Jerusalem

I spent my first Shabbat in Israel at my nephew’s home in Kiryat Menachem, a growing suburb in the hills of Jerusalem. The city’s progress was evident through the anticipation of expanded train services and the sight of cranes in the air. Yet, Kiryat Menachem retained its charm as a “fifteen-minute city” where most amenities were within walking distance. This older settlement had preserved green spaces and access to Shvil Yisrael, the Israel Trail, which allowed us to take a leisurely walk and enjoy the vibrant hues of Jerusalem’s spring flowers.

During Shabbat, the kids excitedly showed off their Purim costumes. My seven-year-old nephew, Eitam, took on the role of the Saba, a beloved grandfather who traditionally dispenses candy to children during Shabbat services in synagogues worldwide. Armed with his grandfather’s cane and a bag of sweets purchased from a local store, he embraced his role enthusiastically. Meanwhile, my eleven-year-old niece, Yehudit, transformed into her teacher, donning dresses, a purse, glasses, and even a wig, a source of great amusement.

For my subsequent Shabbat, I moved to my new home in the Katamon neighbourhood, a quintessential residential enclave in Jerusalem lying beyond the “old city.” The area is characterized by the mandatory use of the pink Jerusalem stone in construction, and my street was lined with distinctive pink stone garden fences.

Explore my snug apartment, where the indoors seamlessly blend with the outdoors through a charming enclosed balcony. In the afternoon, around 3 o’clock, I captured the essence of the space through photographs featuring children and their caregivers representing various genders.

Joyce, my neighbour who recently moved from Toronto to Israel, gifted me her delicious homemade challah. I decided to try some cooked food from a local eatery that caters to the Shabbat crowd. Our neighbourhood has many synagogues, including the Chabad House Synagogue, where I learned about their post-service lunch tradition. I attended their Friday night services, and on my way home, I encountered a group of people in the middle of the road. One of them recognized me as the broker who had just bought her mother’s apartment and warmly invited me to join them for supper and lunch the next day.

The next day, on my way to the synagogue, I passed a school full of children. Once inside, I found the adult service and listened to a woman give the Sabbath talk in an Orthodox prayer service. Later, at Chabad’s post-service kiddush, I sat with two English-speaking women with extensive experience living in Jerusalem and Israel. One was visiting her in-laws, and the other was a divorced woman starting anew in the neighbourhood. We discovered that we all had lived on Lake Street in White Plains, NY, during nearly the same period many years ago.

It’s incredible to see how interconnected our world can be!

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