Jerusalem Getaway, part 4: The end of the tour
The rest of that Shabbos was pretty chill. Since Seth and Rachel were both out of town for Shabbos, I was responsible for taking care of Meeko, Rachel's month-old kitten over Shabbos. Since he's so young, he had to bottle-fed rather frequently. I managed to acquire a nastly back-ache while sleeping in Rachel's apartment, possibly because I was unconsciously stiff with caution against rolling over and squooshing little Meeko.
On Friday night, I went to Kol Rina in Nachlaot for davening and caught up with quite a few old faces there. Rabbi Leibowitz even roped me into being the shliach tzibbur for mincha, "for old time's sake". I had Friday night dinner with my friend Justin and his new wife, Orna, and I got to see their new home. They had tried to collect more guests for the meal, but since they had arranged the meal as a bit of a last-minute thing, everyone they'd invited wound up declining, so it was just the three of us and the cat wailing at the window because Orna had made the mistake of giving it food once.
The following week wasn't incredibly eventful. I got in touch with a few more friends here and there, and just generally attended to my normal work schedule and hung out around Seth's apartment and around town. I went out a few times with various combinations of Seth and Rachel.
On Tuesday night, Seth and I went to a soup bar with a very homey atmosphere that was hosting live jazz music that night. I got garlic soup and Seth got an omelet. The music was nice; mostly just instrumental performances with a guitar, drum, string bass, and a little saxophone. There was also a short set that featured a female singer who had a striking voice and obvious talent. Her Israeli accent was barely detectable as she sung lyrics in English. The notable flaw in her performance, though, was with her volume control, since her voice would frequently and unexpectedly drop to a level where it wasn't clearly audible over the instrumental accompaniment. Of course, it's difficult to compete with the loudness of drums and a sax in such a small space, and rationing your breath is one of the most difficult aspects of singing.
The most festive event of the week was on the bris on Wednesday morning for the new baby boy of Seth's good friends, Moshe and Tamar. Moshe and Tamar live in a tiny settlement on a hilltop in the West Bank, a bit less than an hour outside of Jerusalem. There were about thirty guests coming from the city, and we all travelled together in three hired taxi vans. The bris itself was a simple, homey affair that took place outside, under a tarp teeteringly tented up for shade, next to the tiny trailers that form the settlement. The rocky desert views from the hilltop were wonderful. The curvaceous shapes of the landscape in that area have always struck me as exceedingly sensuous.
For most of the week, I kept waiting for the night when Seth would have the opportunity to make the special dessert that he'd been planning for a while, but the restaurant never seemed to be able to acquire the necessary ginger ice cream. So on Thursday night, I decided to quit waiting and go have a real dinner at Seth's restaurant, special dessert or not. I persuaded Rachel to join me, and she brought along Adelia, whom I've mentioned before, and Sarah, whom I hadn't previously met. I got chicken livers in wine sauce, Rachel got grilled chicken, and the others got sweet potato soup. The bread on the side was really especially excellent, and we had to keep ourselves from filling up on it before the main courses arrived. I gathered that there was a dinner party scheduled later that night, but it was still pretty slow while we were dining, so Seth had opportunity to get out of the kitchen and hang with us a little. And even though Seth's new dessert creation couldn't make its debut, the ultra-gooey chocolate cake-in-a-cup was a more than welcome encore.
For the last Shabbos of my little two-week vacation, I went to the Schechtman family whom I knew from Nachlaot and who are now living in a tiny settlement just outside the small town of Kochav Hashachar in Judah. Their two sons, about 3 and 1 respectively, are just adorable. I had planned to catch the free bus back to Jerusalem after Shabbos, but since I managed to miss it, I stayed one more night and we watched the relatively recent movie production of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and I appropriately hitchhiked back to Jerusalem the next morning. The following Sunday was just spent working and packing up to return to Tzfat in the evening. After wishing warm good-bye to Seth, I took a very crowded bus back north and got back to home sweet home just in time for Rosh Hashanna.