For all of you out there who video chat or skype with us, here's an outside look at what we look like when we talk to you!
Anyone ever heard of a little book called Everything is Illuminated? Written by Elijah Wood? I mean, Jonathan Safran Foer, his twin. We had the distinct privilege and pleasure of attending a few sessions of the International Writers Festival in Yemin Moshe. We saw Amir Gutfreund interview Jonathan Safran Foer, Andre Kurekov interview Etgar Keret and A.B. Yehoshua interview Daniel Mendelsohn. All fantastic. All informative. Altogether a very pleasant experience, except for the older members of the crowd pushing and shushing us cooler, younger members of the audience. It was hard because it was hot in the tent, but come on, people. The most articulate person was absolutely Jonathan Safran Foer. A.B. Yehoshua had the smartest, most well thought out questions. Daniel Mendelsohn was the most American. He kept using his same three Yiddish words of schlep, mishpocha and meshugga. Andre and Etgar had the best rapport. Etgar was hilarious. And Andre's English put ours to shame, and he's from Eastern Europe! Amir Gutfreund is still very sad about the Holocaust and has a serious self-esteem complex standing next to Jonathan Safran Foer.
We stood in line to meet Jonathan and Amir. I bought a couple books by them and they both signed them. Dafna had to do a little song and dance for Jonathan because Rachel was so star struck and dumb. Jonathan and his family are living in Jerusalem for a few months. Should Rachel have offered to babysit? According to Jonathan, if I sold his hard cover, first edition of Eating Animals I could get 75 bucks for it on the street.
Rachel went on a little Pardes Shabbaton to Achziv, a beach town near the beach town Naharriyah. Nahrriyah is for fun lovers! Achziv is famous because the Haganah tried to blow up a bridge there but were unsuccessful. The town still stands. We stayed at a field school there. The food left much to be desired, but the sunsets were niflah. Tugged at my Zionist heart strings to see the flag wave next to the sunset. I hiked in a cave and talked to my spiritual chevrutah, aka myself.
The following Tuesday, we went to the namal in Yafo to visit the theater company Na Laga'at, or Please Touch. It is the world's only deaf and blind theater company, and has been operating for three years. It's amazing. Before the show, we had dinner at Blackout, the theater's restaurant. It's pitch black inside, so it simulates the experience that a blind person would have. The waiters are blind, the food delicious. When we say pitch black, we mean COMPLETELY dark. No shapes or outlines. We eventually started just eating with our hands! This is what our waiter, Beza, had to say on the Web site about his experience:
"In “Nalaga’at” I'm doing something I never thought I'll ever do; being a waiter at a gourmet restaurant. Meeting real friends with the same disabilities makes me feel good and also working with good people who aren't disabled.“
Then it was off to the theater for the play, which is called "Not By Bread Alone." The actors are all deaf and blind, and throughout the show they make bread as they talk about their lives and their dreams with the help of super titles, sign language and other devices. The acting was excellent and we got to try the bread after! It was a very unique, very important experience.
The next day was Yom Yerushalayim, which celebrates the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem, which makes it somewhat of a complicated celebration. On the one hand, most Jews are very happy to have a unified capital. On the other hand, many of those same people understand how complicated East Jerusalem and the outcomes of the Six Day War. Has the 1967 euphoria dissolved with today's disillusionment? Is this a war to celebrate or to look back on with regret? Perhaps both. We didn't get to see it due to time constraints, but there's a big parade from Gan Sacher to the Western Wall, where thousands of children are brainwashed to believe in the Zionist project. KIDDING! They march with Israeli and Yerushalmi flags, and then wind up at the Kotel, where it turns into dancing! That night we went out and Dafna bumped into Edeet Cohen, old, old, friend from back in the day at Ezra Academy. They haven't seen each other since third grade. It was explosive and monumental. Dafna vomited near her. That put a damper on the reunion.
Yesterday we became hipsters and went to the T Market, a tshirt festival happening in major cities around the country. The one in Jerusalem was held behind the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Bling bling! We picked up a couple rings and a necklace. Rachel Pfeffer started the bow jewelery craze and Israeli artists have jumped on her bandwagon. Many tanks to her.
Last night we celebrated Shabbat at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. Women sit in a big, not air conditioned balcony (in stark contrast to the awesome AC at shira chadasha this morning). Usually there is a men's choir that sings on Friday nights. It reminded me of Glee.
Friends and family, please wish Dafna a very happy 37th birthday. Rachel's planning to throw Dafna a tasteful,it's-almost-time-to-say-goodbye-to-your-thirties party next week. Wine and cheese, Apples to Apples, a beer keg. Very adult.
Rachel's refrigerator is broken! So we had McFlurries aka glida pitzutz from the only place open. Thank you, golden arches for providing us with a traditional, lovely Friday night dinner. Our first since we got to Middle Earth.
HUC is ending its semester, so Keara and Carmela are hitting the old dusty trail. Wishing them happy years in Los Angeles.
We'll both be home pretty soon...until then, we're trying to devour all of the hummus in this city and soak up life with our trusty pita bread.