It’s my first shabbat in Jaffa. I couldn’t be happier, really. Yesterday, I booked it down to Jerusalem first thing in the morning for a class I take with rabbinical students from my school and three others. It was nice to see friends for sure, and when it comes down to it Jerusalem and Tel Aviv aren’t that far apart. Still, it took about 2 hours door to door for a 2 hour class, and then I had to get back up here, and, frankly, by the time I did I was more than ready to relax and do nothing for a bit. I’ve had a busy week. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but I’m the type that needs downtime, or, well, if not complete downtime at least personal creative time. I need to be able to write (both this and fiction), play music, and get involved in elaborate kitchen projects.
Luckily, until Sunday I’ve got that time. Oh I have homework, and tonight (shockingly enough for a Friday), shabbat begins. But at this very moment, the sun is shining, I’m stocked up on groceries (except for ice cream, which I may make a run for before things close this afternoon), and I am writing this… in my hammock. Which I have strung up slightly haphazardly on my balcony. Next week I hear that it will rain like crazy, but that is a future Emily problem. Present Emily is as happy as a clam who won’t be eaten because everybody nearby keeps kosher.
I still haven’t had time to go through my photos from Europe, so I’ll save my reflections on that for another post. For now, I’ll bring in this week’s blessing. This timing on this one is beautiful, because it’s almost a year ago to the day that I committed to doing a summer unit of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Stanford Hospital. One of my colleagues, a protestant seminarian, sent me a card a while back, with a simple but potent message:
Go you go you! Blessings on your year in Israel with all the cats!
The accompanying card now lives, as all disco cats ought to, on my desk here in Yafo.
Sure enough, there are cats here just as there are in Jerusalem. Yesterday, when I went down to my Jerusalem class, I came across two of my “kittens” who are now getting big enough to really be called cats!
And at BINA, where I study here in Tel Aviv, there are a number of resident cats. I am starting to name them and shall continue to over the course of the semester.
Tonight isn’t only shabbat. It’s also Tu B’shvat, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is known as the New Year for the Trees. This is a relatively minor holiday, one of the three Jewish new year’s celebrations that gets less air time than Rosh Hashanah. Still, I love that it exists, that there is a religious holiday (as opposed to the US’s secular Arbor Day) to celebrate the natural world. There aren’t a whole lot of traditions, but a lot of people here plant trees and have seders (special meals) with different sorts of grape juice, dried fruit, and nuts. Tomorrow night BINA is having a party of some sort to celebrate, and I may go check it out. Most things outdoors entice me, and BINA’s campus is gorgeous and largely outdoors.
In the meantime, I will be getting ready to enjoy shabbat lounging on my balcony, working on some musical pursuits, and perhaps getting in a trip to the beach…10 minutes walk from here. Because I am in Tel Aviv now. The Ark is soaking up sun in between bouts of rain. And everything is just a little bit brighter.