Friday was a shopping day. I started off early by leaving the kids and going down to Emek Refaim where they have as market of local artists and goods on Friday mornings. I browsed for a bit and then came back to get the kids moving. The weather has shifted and it has gotten quite hot, so we decided to take a bus to Machane Yehuda instead of walking the 35 minutes or so to get there. But we should have known that Machane Yehuda on a Friday morning was not a good idea for the Oberlanders. Too much sensory overload, and other issues to be described shortly. The bus let us off right in front of a bakery with delicious smells wafting out, so we went in to pick up a few treats for breakfast. While selecting rugella, burrekas, and delicious pitas in this tiny store, Naomi started to get claustrophobic and went out to wait on the sidewalk. Within 3 minutes she was back inside, totally disgusted by something she saw out there. Reader, if you are weak of stomach, please skip ahead to the next paragraph. Naomi saw an older woman who was walking toward her reach back into her pants. Naomi thought maybe she was taking care of a wedgie. But in fact it was so much more, as Naomi saw her pull some poops out of her pants and throw it on the sidewalk. I saw the evidence. Needless to say, Naomi could not eat her bakery treats and now has an extreme aversion to Machane Yehuda.
We did venture into Machane Yehuda but between Naomi’s trauma, Eitan’s visceral reaction and disgust at all fish stalls, and Noah’s impatience with wandering we were there only long enough to grab some gummi candies and then we got the heck out of there. We walked from Machane Yehuda down Jaffa Street, where we stopped at New Deli for lunch. New Deli may have surpassed Burger’s Bar as the ultimate eating experience for the kids, but I have not sampled it as I have been able to eat meat since our week of 7 days of meat in a row. We also found a great vegetarian restaurant on Jaffa Street that has tofu – actual protein for Naomi to eat! We then continued on toward Ben Yehuda where the girls got some skirts, the boys visited the kippa man, we ordered Naomi a siddur, and Eitan realized that the shofar he liked was not actually kosher. Noah bought what he thought was a Washington Captials kippa, but on closer inspection the Israeli girl who knitted it misplaced the hockey stick in the logo and the kippa read" CapiLals." Gives it even more character. By now it was mid afternoon, and the kids were complaining bitterly about walking home in the heat. So, I gave them the cartissiya and the apartment key and told them to take the bus. I got to walk home browsing through more markets on the way and though I was sweltering it was nice to have some quiet time. And when I got home I found all 4 of them safe and sound.
Back home, everyone showered and got ready for Shabbat. We enjoyed speaking to Papa and wishing him a happy birthday! We were invited to dinner at Tova and Yishai’s apartment, and as it is about a 35 minute walk we planned to take the bus there. Tova told us which bus to take to get there and she was going to meet us at the bus stop. So I took the bus pass, no money or cell phone, and we headed to the stop (about a 7 minute walk). As we got closer and saw no one at any of the bus stops, and no buses on the street, we realized that bus routes must stop a little earlier than we had thought on a Friday afternoon... So we walked back to the apartment to call Tova and tell her we were taking a cab and to get some money, and we headed off again. As we were trying to find a cab, a car pulled over and offered us a ride -- he saw Noah’s siddur and figured we needed a ride to shul. It was really nice, but we were not going in his direction. We did get a cab at the Dan Panorama and headed to Tova’s neighborhood, Beit Yisrael, which is right next to Mea Shaarim and like Mea Shaarim is a haredi neighborhood. Our cab driver found their street, but could not find the house. He stopped to ask many people, most of them with long peyes and wearing a strimmel, where the house number was and we kept being directed up and down the same street but no house 31 was to be found. He tried to leave us there, saying it is around here somewhere, but I said no way, if you can’t find it how can we? Eventually he went a little farther down the street and stopped to ask someone on the front porch, and that someone was Yishai! Yipee!
We felt very honored to be at Tova’s and Yishai’s house – we were their first Shabbat guests! They live on the first floor of a 3 story apartment building, and the apartment is brand new and very nice. They look settled in for having been married only two weeks. Noah and Eitan went with Yishai to a nearby Moroccan shul, and the girls and I stayed home with Tova and looked at the gorgeous photos from their wedding. It was a great dinner, the food was delicious and we enjoyed visiting with Tova and getting to know Yishai. His mother is American and speaks English to him, so we spoke to him mostly in English and he spoke to us mostly in Hebrew. Yishai is very friendly and warm, he has friends all over the neighborhood, and Yishai and Tova are very cute and happy. It was a very fun meal, and after cleaning up the soup nuts the kids had somehow scattered all over their apartment Tova and Yishai walked us back towards our apartment. On the walk, the boys asked Yishai what he did in the army (he is in Hesder, he was released from army service a few months ago and is now learning in a yeshiva in Tel Aviv). He told them that he was a big gunner, he shot machine guns with bullets several inches long. And those bullets were much bigger than the 9mm ones that are in the gun in that he then whipped out of the back of his pants to show them. And he showed them the bullets. Yishai’s coolness factor went sky high. And then he told them how he gets to test all the newest weaponry, and how the bullets that he has explode upon impact… so the boys talked guns all the way home, and heard stories about Yishai’s experiences in the field during Cast Lead (when they asked his if he was afraid when he had to go into combat, he told them no, it was no big deal, he was too tired to be scared), and could not stop talking about it even after Yishai and Tova got us onto familiar ground and turned around for home. And all the gun talk aside, to be in Jerusalem on Shabbat, passing by the walls of the old city on the way home from dinner, is really special. The streets are quiet -- either completely closed or with much less traffic than normal -- the restaurants and shops are closed, the constant hustle and bustle come to a stop. It truly feels like Shabbat, in our holy city.