We went to the big mall tonight for about 90 shock inducing minutes. Crazy filled with people, kids on vacation and can stay up late tonight, religious and non-religious, Arabs and Jews, all there for some shopping, some chow (kosher food court, dairy on one side, meat on the other), maybe a movie and if you're young, to hang with your buddies. The scene was loud and frenetic and the decorations were all for Hannukah - large hanging dreydels and suchlike themes.
Friday morning, Ira and I made the shocking realization that we had done nothing for Hannukah except buy some candles. I confess that I had thought about Hannukah in an offhand way but I guess without all that Xmas reminding, I hadn't considered the whole present purchase thing.
Friday morning dawned at the early hour of 6:15 or so with getting Akiva off to school. That was followed by house tidy and prep for cleaning by a lovely Argentinian student who comes 2x a month. We stripped beds, started laundry and in between, did some cooking. Had done most of the cooking Thursday night but with Shabbat starting at 3:57pm, one has to make sure that as much is done early in the day as possible because it's just too stressful otherwise. I digress, big surprise.
Anway, I headed to the pool for my usual battle with all of the old people who don't understand lap swimming etiquette and arrived, horrors, in the middle of the water exercise class. This meant the lanes were even more crowded than usual. I got in and persevered. It's all about the jacuzzi anyway, the best thing about swimming at Ramat Rahel. Finished up, listened to the chitchat of the ladies next to me as I dressed - she's remarrying, someone non-jewish, I think, and will be getting married in Cyprus as she can't do it here in Israel.
Returned home, picked up Ira, picked up Debra Reed Blank, visiting here for a few weeks (teaching and such), and headed for the shuk. Did the usual, ate breakfast at favorite cafe (all out of brioche, DRB made do with croissant which she pronounced as good as Paris) after a bit of a wait for a table, a few pickups - recently discovered, courtesy of Alan Salzberg, incredible pastry with a sort of liquid chocolate interior or halva interior - and headed for shops in town. Managed a quick frenzied shop with all the other people thinking about simple stuff for gifts. Soccer shirt for Gabe, funny hat for Natan, some other clothing items, music and books for Akiva.
Sufganiyot/jelly donuts everywhere. New flavors this year - dulce de leche, chocolate cream and other interesting taste sensations to tempt those tastebuds jaded by basic jelly. People bellying up everywhere to buy them - large and pillowy with powdered sugar on top, hopefully filled with a good few bites of sweet filling. Both Ha'aretz and Jerusalem Post had articles recently rating local bakeries, Ha'aretz covering Tel Aviv and JPost handling the local bakeries. Intrepid reporters ate many donuts, ingesting goodness knows how many calories. It turns out that Akiva has a liking for sufganiyot, not seeming to care how high brow the flavor is. On Thursday night, we went to horseback riding and were told that there were sufganiyot to eat afterwards. I offered the treat to Akiva and Adina (with whom we go to riding) and Adina wasn't interested but Akiva sat right down and said, "sufganiyot, ok...sit on bench." He picked it up and took a bit bite through the center - meaning, powdered sugar on the nose, jelly coming out the sides - and proceeded to eat the whole thing. Today at lunch - he did it again.
Debra enjoyed watching the action of the city. It was high noon in the center of town, on the first day of Hannukah break (if you're lucky enough not to have school or work on Fridays). The sugar shock alone was enough to set everybody on a high for the day. I also introduced Debra to my favorite shuk person, the toothless man who sells pickled and preserved things. He knows me by now - I often stop to pick up his preserved lemons or pickled Persian garlic, as well as hilbeh (fenugreek sauce) and this week he has spicy carrots and eggplan with tahina (just made yesterday, he assures me). If only he made jams and jellies and pickled cukes, he'd be just like the toothless man in Becket, Ma, who ran off this year and was no longer pickling and making jams, when we stopped by this past summer. This guy is small and cute, though, always offering tastes and smiles along with his products, only available on Thurs and Fridays.
We finished up and headed back home. Did the last minute Shabbat prep and run for the finish line. Took Akiva and Natan and went to Shira Hadasha to meet up with Simkha Weintraub, next Bklyn visitor in line. Dinner with Simkha and some others, Akiva practically apopleptic at sitting next to Simkha, whom he as spoken about weekly, every Shabbat for the past 4 mos. Lovely to see Simkha and hear about his trip and work on developing Jewish chaplaincy work and the nature of Jewish spritual healing, mind and body, here in Israel. For those interested, I made couscous for the first time - you know, the couscous and then the broth and the veggies on the side. Excellent veg recipe and I honored the flesh eaters with some fish as well. Finished with a really good semolina cake - stayed in the middle eastern theme.
Today, usual synagogue split. Ira went with Daniel and Jess to Ma'yanot and the boys and I went to Moreshet Avraham. Had lunch plans with Rena Magun and David Ebstein (he once tried out for Kane St and was in Debra's, Josh Gutoff's and Debbie Cantor's graduating class at Reb school). Debra met up with Ira and then walked with him and Jess and Daniel to Rena and David's. Good meal, nice conversation - we all know each other a long time (Ramah, sister Sarah, yadda yadda), and it felt good to be with longtime friends. Headed home late, replete, tired and woozy but it was a good day. Cold tonight, supposed to be under 40. I actually put on my light, down jacket and it felt good but didn't need anything that serious during the day when the sun was out.
Hannukah festivities all week. Will report later in the week.
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