I have been told that I need to blog more. Sorry guys! Its crazy to think its already September and its been almost a month since the last post. I will try my best to update you on what has happened since then.
Adam finished his first term at HUC a few weeks ago (Hooray!!) and did very well in both of his classes. I am so proud of him! Today he started the Fall term, and many students are saying its the first time they feel like real Rabbinic students. His schedule is jam packed, but luckily I will be volunteering at the Gan 3 days a week, so we can have lunch together!
During HUCs short break in August, we decided to travel up north to Haifa and Sfat. Haifa is a port city on the Western Coast, and Sfat (Tzfat, Safed, Safad....Whatever you want to call it in English) is about an hour and a half inward. We took a bus up to Haifa on Friday, and really learned how travel without a car is all about going with the flow. We took a bus to the bus station, and bought tickets to Haifa. We were expecting a nice peaceful ride, but of course, we had some trouble. The bus stopped several times along the way, as the bus driver was dealing with some sort of technical issue. Of course he never told us what was going on, but eventually told us that we would wait for a new bus on the side of the highway...After an hour of waiting we finally got to head out again toward Haifa!
Since we were there on a Friday night, the cuiy was pretty mellow, but we ended up meeting some friends from HUC for dinner in a cute strip called the German Colony! (For those that remember, our apartment is in the Jerusalem German Colony!) We had AMAZING Morrocan food at a restaurant called "Fatoush"...I love that I'm getting to try a lot of types of food here, and it is always very authentic.
As we walked to dinner, we say the beautiful Bahai Botanical Gardens, where one of the only Bahai Temples in the world is located. The only one in North America is in Wilmette, IL! II've driven by the Temple in Wilmette before, and it looks pretty similar from the outside. The one in Haifa is quite a sight, as its built on the side of one of the many mountains that make up Haifa. There are 700 steps to the top, and the whole way up is a beautifully manicured garden. In the middle, there is a holy Bahai Temple. At night it is all lit up!
After a breakfast the next day, we were going to meet out friends at the entrance to the garden to take a tour down to the bottom. When we asked at the hotel how to get there, we were told, very emphatically, that we should take a taxi, because there was no public transportation on Saturday. For some reason, we thought it was a better idea to walk. Google maps told us it would be a nice 30 minute walk of a little over a mile. I don't know what we were thinking, seeing as though we were on a mountain, but we didn't take into account that the little walk would be straight uphill. Every time I thought we were close, there were 200 more stairs...And then 200 more...and a huge hill...and 200 more stairs. It was one of the most challenging walks I've ever done, but we were good cheerleaders for one another, and when we finally made it to the top, it was an incredible view! We took a tour down the garden, and it was fascinating to learn the history of the Bahai religion.
Once we got to the bottom, we met our friends (who were done with the tour because they were smart and took a taxi) for some more delicious food. After lunch, we all crammed into a taxi to go to the beach. The beaches were very nice, and the water was perfect. I am still getting used to swimming in salt water, but I love standing in the waves of the Mediterranean. We enjoyed laying in the sun, drinking a pina coloda. and reading and snoozing. That night, Adam and I were exhausted, so we decided to make some turkey sandwiches at our hotel and sit in the courtyard by our room. It was the perfect ending to a long day!
The next morning we headed to the bus to get to Sfat as soon as possible. This was another interesting bus ride! We got to stay on the same bus the whole time, but there were 30 (!) stops on the way there! Because it was Sunday morning, there were tons of soldiers on the bus returning to their bases after the weekend. The bus was so packed many people had to stand that whole way. Luckily we had great seats! Once we got to Sfat, we went to the old city. This area is famous for the creation of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. There are many artists located there, and they all sell beautiful paintings and works of art in the old city. We loved walking through the windy, narrow streets looking in artists galleries and shops. We bought a few small paintings, and of course went to the Safed candle store. This is where everyone gets their Hannukah candles, and they had some beautiful candles and wax sculptures on display. We also went to a tiny sandwich shop where they made Yemenite sandwiches. It sort of looked like grilled cheese on a thick, grilled round piece of bread. It was very tasty!
Adam was really excited to go to the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) in Sfat. Around the cemetery where several famous Kabbalists are buried, there is a famous Mikveh. I had to wait around the corner, but Adam tells me it was quite an experience...Maybe soon he will write a blog post about it!
After our long, hot, day in the old city we took another windy bus ride to the Safed Inn, a gem of a Bed and Breakfast about 20 minutes out of town. Its owned by a family, and it was a perfect place to relax and eat! We decided to hang out there for the night, and had Thai food delivered! We hung out in the hot tub and hammocks, and drank beer and played games.
In the morning we had a delicious homemade Israeli breakfast--complete with homemade cheese, jam, and bread! There was even real drip coffee, which is pretty much unheard of in Israel. Yum!
We took several buses back home, and it was nice to have the feeling we were home when we got back to Jerusalem.
My fingers are tired for now...But stay tuned for my next blog about our trip to the North with HUC!!