Monday, January 17, 2011



Zahara, Althea and I went to Yad Bashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. To get to the museum you walk over a wooden bridge meant to sound like the train to the concentration camp. The museum was underground and the exhibit was built as a zig zag line that you slowly marched through. It was dark except for a sliver of light from the skylight. Interviews, photos and stories got increasingly devastating until like a crescendo a sign tells you the very stones you are walking on are from the Warsaw Ghetto. I was mortified and could feel my skin crawling. A big part of the museum was humanizing the 6 million deaths. I had a knot in my throat that wouldn’t loosen for a good portion of the day.

I was fascinated by the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and the underground movements in the camps. Those men and women who faced so much evil and didn’t just survive but organized and fought back. So inspiring.

We went to the children’s memorial. A room completely black and filled with mirrors that reflect one candle again and again into eternity.

When you exit the museum you are on a mountain top overlooking all of Jerusalem. It was so beautiful and full of life.

I barely had time to process because we had to run home and prepare for Shabbat. We had to clean ourselves and get into schmancy clothes, prepare food for our various meals, and turn off all electronics/lights. We lit candles and welcome the bride of the weekend (literally what Shabbat means.) On Shabbat you are not allowed to use any electrical items, spend money, or use any mode of transportation besides walking. It’s a time to reflect and relax and differ from the normal routine so as to keep life sanctified and exciting.

We walked to Navah Tehilla for service. It was very non-traditional. Hippy Jews equipped with dreadlocks and kippas sat in the center in a circle playing instruments. Hippies on the outskirts danced and raised their hands up and prayed. As corny as it all sounds, nothing gets me more in the mood than dancing and singing and good music. I let myself go and sway and sung. When I was tired I sat in the corner and closed my eyes. What a phenomenal way to end a week and to welcome the weekend.

Our Shabbat dinner was across town at the son of one of the most famous Rabbis in modern Judaism. There were 15 of us walking across the silent city that night to dinner. Everyone was so friendly and interesting and handsome. Dinner was buffet style and we sat and got toasty off wine and challah and sang. I turned a laundry hamper into a drum and played it until my hands hurt. In the middle of one of our songs the sky burst open and it started to pour. People went around and told different stories from the Torah. I learned to beat box. At midnight, Zahara and I made the long walk home walking in between the raindrops.

Saturday morning we blearily got out of bed and walked next door to Althea’s house for coffee. Althea has a hot water urn that keeps water hot without having to turn on a coffee maker (which would break the Shabbat rule.) An appreciated loophole. We sat around the kitchen table and talked about Brachot. The Jewish prayer said before each piece of food or drink consumed. Bracha’s differ depending on the type of food and drink. The idea is to increase awareness and appreciation for the sustenance. It’s really the trick to spirituality. Someone should tell Opera. The trick is to change things up and make things different. To make the mundane sanctified and to keep focusing the mind back to the present.

We went to a Shabbat lunch and sat around a table filled with food and wine. I love how it is encouraged to start drinking at noon. Bitchin’.

We went straight from our lunch to our third meal. It was meal consistent of only women. Zahara and I slouched on a beanbag together, drinking more wine and eating more food until I thought I was going to go into labor. We sang sad songs and lit candles saying goodbye to Shabbat.

We head to a friends house and lay on her bed listening to great music late into the night. We talked about really tough stuff going on in our respective lives. Emotions that we hide in our stomach and try to digest with our bread. But we let it out that night and let ourselves feel aware in a way I’ve never been before of the feeling of the physical emotion rising up and out. And with the help of Leonard Cohen we laughed and cried and cried and laughed about it all again.

1 comment:

  1. "Emotions that we hide in our stomach and try to digest with our bread." "And with the help of Leonard Cohen..." yes.