October 22, 2012

Chillin' with Chani in Tel Aviv

On Nachalat Binyamin

Meet Chanaleh (I call her Chani), eldest of my cousin's 13 children. Chani's husband (they are parents of three little ones) drove her from their home in Kiryat Sefer to the Modi'in railroad station where she took the train to Tel Aviv and then caught a city bus to meet and hang out with me.

We checked out fabric stores in the shuk/market in search of raw material (wide!) for a tablecloth she wants to sew, found cheap gifts (one shekel each) that the kids would love, and sampled yummy spiced basmati rice tossed with pistachios and more spices at a specially-kosher-certified purveyor. Today, a day before the Haredi/ultra-Orthodox woman begins (unless there is a strike) a course on radiology technology assisting, she treated us both to a yom kef/fun day!

Way to go, Chani; you totally rock!

October 09, 2012

Daniel Zohar comes to Tel Aviv!

In the Tel Aviv Artists' Market with my cousin Daniel Zohar

Jerusalem-born Daniel speaks fluent Hebrew and Arabic, and enjoys practicing his English with me. On a recent Friday morning, the versatile and gifted student, musician, athlete, hiker, traveler, and gentle born leader accomplished much during a weekend leave from serving in the Intelligence Branch of the Israel Defense Forces. Nothing unusual for Daniel who also plays classical piano, reads voraciously (currently, Graham Green's The Quiet American, in Hebrew translation), and practices for the upcoming Nike-sponsored runner's marathon in Tel Aviv.

On Friday morning, we met in the Daf Yomi daily Talmud study group at Alma, Home for Hebrew Culture where Daniel read the source text and joined in the group's dynamic and spirited text inquiry. When the one-hour Talmud study session ended, one of the regulars said, "Young man: please come back anytime!" I imagine that almost everyone who meets Daniel thinks or says the same thing.

We then wandered through the charming historic neighborhood before Daniel left to meet Miriam in her home a short bus-ride away. The 90-year-old Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and Daniel have developed a close bond since the military's volunteer program matched them up.

(When he was a ninth grader, Daniel wrote a powerful commentary on the Binding of Isaac, and permitted me to publish it here, in the original Hebrew and with my English translation. This dramatic story, central to Jewish liturgy and thought, has challenged generations of commentators.)