Friday was another "vacation" day for us. We stayed in Netanya and went to the beach/kikar/pool. The beach was beautiful, and as it was Friday it was a bit more crowded. At one point we had a very Israeli beach experience. To the left of us was what looked to be a Russian couple on lounge chairs. He was wearing a speedo type suit and she was tatooed and wearing a thong and usually not her bikini top (but lying on her stomach). To the right, we saw an elderly couple walking down the beach towards us - probably in their 70's. He was wearing a black suit with his pants rolled up to his knees, still wearing his black hat, and she was completely covered. The juxtaposition was just amazing. The kids came up to the apartment for lunch, and the adults went to get more cash out of the ATM. We just had to stop for a smoothie (for Sima) and a shwarma (for Mike). We then picked up some more food for the apartment and Mike took the girls and Eitan swimming. This time, we were asked for the cartis (the card that shows that our landlord paid the dues for the pool). Well, it turns out that he hasn't yet. So, Noah will just have to call him to talk about that too. (And, that someone else keeps parking in the spot that we were told is for our use.) Still can't beat the location and views from the apartment.
We then showered and got ready for Shabbat and started our trek into the Shomron (Samaria - part of the "West Bank") to spend Shabbat with the Kampler family. Sara lived with us 2009-10. We have a very "liberal" GPS; no matter how hard we tried, it just would not give us directions to Karnei Shomron. We tried "bypassing Area C Override" and it still would not work. So, we called the Kamplers and they gave us easy directions. The GPS wanted us to take a route that would take 4 hours and it took us less than an hour. We encountered the first checkpoint of the trip, and they waived us right through. Driving through the Shomron, we saw Arab towns and Jewish towns. And, for the first time in almost 2 weeks, we saw a bit of a military presence. On either side of the road was a fence and a military road and the road was not so busy -- it was very different from the driving we have been doing through the central corridor. We passed through the gate in Karnei Shomron, found our way to Ginot Shomron, and found Sara there waiting outside her house for us. It was so great to see Sara and to meet her family. All of her siblings were home for the weekend, except for Shlomzi, her sister who just graduated from high school, who was at a shabbaton for her class. Sara's parents, Fruma and Mark, and her siblings Noam, Beneyahu, Shivi, and Adi made us feel so welcome. While Sara's dad worked on the Shabbat cooking, Sara and her mom took us on a short driving tour of the area. They took us through the Ginot Shomron hill and the Karnei Shormron hill. They also took us up to a caravan settlement on a nearby hill called Ramot Gilad. The views were amazing; you can see Hadera, Netanya, and Tel Aviv. And we got to meet Shlomzi as we passed her and classmates driving decorated cars in a "graduation Parade" around the yishuv. After the tour we met Sara's next door neighbor, Sara, who housed Mike, Sima, and the girls. We went to shul, and enjoyed a delicious meal with lively conversation. After dinner Noah went out to walk the streets and find the teen social scene with Beneyahu, and Merav's mom Rutie stopped by to say hello and we chatted for a while. She is so amazing, we will miss her visits to St. Louis when the Possicks return home.
On Shabbat morning we all went to shul/synagogue/beit knesset, which is much faster and more efficient than at home. The girls and Sara and Sima sat with Ruthie and made it in time for mussaf. We were back at the Kamplers by 10:30 to visit a bit before lunch. Mike and he boys went to a minyan that started at 9 a.m. and was over by 10:30. Sara's grandfather Jay Shapira stopped by to say hello; we had met him when he visited St. Louis a year and a half ago. Again, lunch was delicious. The kids all really hit it off and hung out together all afternoon. The adults napped, and then Sara took us for a walk around the yishuv, she showed us the wadi next to their hill, which is the nachal that separated the land of the tribe of Menashe from the tribe of Ephraim. The kids went to b'nai akiva, and the adults had a much less chaotic seudah shlishit, and before we knew it Shabbat was over. After saying our goodbyes, we got back in the car with our uncooperative GPS. The trip was easy, except for our delay at the checkpoint traveling back across the green line. We did not know which line to get into so of course we got into the slowest one, and the border patrol soldiers checked our passports and the back of our car, and then let us pass through and on to Netanya. So, now we are watching Israeli tv and blogging.