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Monday, February 16, 2015

Israel 2015, Part 2 -- Safed

Monday morning we awoke in our hotel and had our first delicious hotel breakfast including shakshuka (love saying that word), potatoes, salads, pastries, yogurt, cereal... yum. So much delicious Kosher food to choose from.

Then, grateful at last to not have a deadline to meet, we took a quick walk to the Artists' Colony where saw some puzzle piece shabbat/Channukah candlesticks I was really tempted to buy. Then we hit the road to Safed.


Our drive North was very very slow due to construction and we were caught behind a series of trucks carrying tanks. Funny to be a tourist and not quite know what those tanks are up to, but have that all be normal routine in a country and small and with a military as active as that in Israel.

As a result we didn’t get there until close to nightfall and gave up the opportunity to "swing by" the Kinneret which beckoned temptingly on the map.

With so many reservations in so many places, I had failed to read the details on some of the confirmation emails. So we were a little nervous when Waze took us to an alleyway. We parked the car on the street and called the Guesthouse where a very warm, American voice answered and gave us lengthy details of how to walk to the Guesthouse. “You don’t have a ton of luggage, do you?” Not knowing how to respond I just left most of my stuff in the car and we dragged a few essentials single file down a narrow curb of a sidewalk, then down a flight of steps to a garbage-ridden alleyway.
Fortunately, we were hopeful that we were in the right place and had better to look forward to with the beautiful signs that pointed our way.
Our room's domed ceiling
Sure enough, at the end of the alleyway was a richly painted blue door which opened into a beautiful courtyard with geodes, crystals, an olive tree and herb garden. Several rooms looked out into the courtyard and we found our way to the hosts’ door. The hostess, Joy, came out to greet us, hugged me as if we were old friends and said she’d been waiting for us.
Guest House courtyard, daytime


She showed us our room which was dome-shaped and very homey, explained how everything worked, walked us through a map of the area, and then left us to go see if we could fit in anything that night. Our goals for Safed were to see a few of the shuls and to see and maybe purchase some art. By this time of evening, though, it was also to find some food. Alas, almost everything was closed including a Yemenite vegetarian restaurant where we could have sat on cushions and tried new foods.

There were a few galleries still open at least. ND and U. came really close to buying a few paintings, but I was too distracted by looking at all the tree shaped necklaces and finally bargaining down for one I really liked. (I’m saving it for a shechechiyanu at Pesach.) We also gave into having pizza, not for the first time at all on this trip, but enjoyed eating it in a little hole in the wall with lovely decorations, and Safed right outside.

I started off the next morning with Joy giving me a glorious massage. Then rejoined my family in the room where we ate breakfast together in our room with enormous pancakes and a plate full of fruit.

Mezuzah made by the glass blower who is making my yad
Back to the artist quarter then where I had a beautiful and moving experience of ordering a glass yad to be made for me for reading Torah. Hopefully it will be ready before Purim in time for the the women’s megillah reading that I organize. (Stayed tuned. Later I'll be posting an article about that. Below in this blog see a video of the glassblower.)

We also bought Kiddush cups, admired paintings, ran into Naomi’s first grade teacher who was also touring Israel, visited a few of the shuls and walked up the tall staircase back to our car and on our way to the next adventure.
Glass door to our room






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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Israel 2015, Part 1 -- Modi'in and Jerusalem

For Yeshiva Break this year we went to Israel. This was my first time since 1994, U.'s first time since about then and ND's first time PERIOD. Why did we go now? It was time to do so. ND felt (though not quite accurately) that she was the only one in her class who had never been. Likewise, we just wanted to go and to have a nice trip there together. Why during such a short vacation? The summer is hot and more expensive, so this is what we've been planning since last summer when we realized we just couldn't pull off a last-minute summer trip.

The last day of school was Wednesday, January 14. We left school at lunchtime. At the airport we saw two Noam families whose children I'd taught, all of us heading out on the same flight. In stereotypical Israeli fashion, instead of just calmly waiting in seats as I usually do on a flight out, we had extra security and then all crammed forwards in a mob as if it we didn't fight to the front we wouldn't get onto the plane at all.

The flight was mostly uneventful. ND and I watched Bears and then tried to go to sleep as it was already nighttime in Israel. Alas, very little luck. It was just too early to sleep. So we pretended to sleep, tried to sleep and dozed about an hour or two before arriving after 10 hours of flying at 9:25 AM on the 15th in Tel Aviv.

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