Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jerusalem Weekend

I just had a great and crazy weekend in Jerusalem and today is also my Birthday.

So after class on thursday I decided to head to Jerusalem to meet with some friends and spend a restful shabbat. It was pretty easy to get there by bus, just two buses. I wanted to go to this event for Lone Soldiers/ future lone soldiers. They had workshops and information and a chance to meet others in your same position. The only problem was that I got on the 5pm Bus to J-Town. I arrived in the German colony of J town, where the event was and all I had was a small note with directions written very vague. I saw two other guys speaking english looking for the same place. We walked around in a few circles for 30mins trying to find it. Once I got there it was about 8pm and most people had left and there was no more beer. But right as I walked in Becca Baskin, a great friend from CU. She happens to live in the same spot as the event in a dorm like place. It was really good welcome to J town. We decided to go and meet some of her friends up near Ben Yeduda street to have some drinks and chat. I also called some other friends to meet up. Caitlin from my IsraeLinks trip last summer and Lisa Braverman from CU. It was a really good night and we had fun. I went with lisa to stay the night and she had a very nice apartment. On Friday, Yom Sishe, Lisa and I went for brunch and a walk around the hills of J town. It was a very nice day, but we also wanted to go check out the mall. The mall was very busy and we got some coffee and window shopped. After that we went to the Skok. Now if you don't know the Skok, you would be info a surprise if you went the last few hours until Shabbat. Hundreds of people getting their last minute food and the vendors want to get rid of all their stock before lots of yelling, prices dropping, and people running over the top of you. We also met up with two of my friends from the Ulpan...Eillor from Sweden and Casey from Minnesota. We then said good bye to Lisa and went to find our Hostel.

Now this is where the story gets interesting. I was really smart and booked a hostel online a few days before for the three of Us. Not really thinking about where near the old city meant. We took a taxi because it was getting close to shabbat and we needed to get ready. The taxi driver did not know where to take us, so he dropped us off at the Jaffa gate to the old city. This is in the Armenian quarter of old city, Jewish friendly, very touristy. But our hostel was near Damascus gate, christen/arab quarter. So Its friday night of Ramadan, I don't know what this means, but I guess it was the time for all the arabs/Muslims to congerate near the Damascus gate. There were tour bus after tour bus letting off Muslims in their full dress. Mostly women. We found ourselves pushing though the crowd of thousands of them to get to the hostel. We finally make it in to the hostel, which had no security and no main locked door. Now in Israel most places have a security guard and a locked door, esp for a hostel. We get in there and everything is in Arabic and English...they told us to wait for 20 min for the manager...we sat down looked around and ran out of there as fast as we could, back in the the growing crowd of arabs. It was quiet frightful and we did not seem as if we were welcome...we did not have our Kipot on and my friend had to cover her Jewish star of David, because we were getting very unfriendly looks and stares.

Now we had about 45min until shabbat. This means we really had to find a last minute hostel close by. We went back into the old city and straight to Jeff Sidel's office. A Jewish Student hospitably organization. Which I knew of because Jeff was already setting us up for Dinner with a family. We got a guy to bring us to the Heritage House right in the old city with not much time to spare. 50 shekles for shabbat. The only problem was that the girls slept in another building then the guys and we were two guys and one girl. But we had no choice. Casey and I sit in an office with this guy David. David is arguing with his Mom on the phone about how guys see the world differently then women. Not only was this weird for us, but when he gets off the phone he continues the conversation with us. The next 15 mins or longer were about his and his mom's relationship and how guys see the world different than girls...then we had a few minutes to shower and go to the Kotel (Western Wall/Wailing Wall/the closest place to the holy of holys for the jews to pray. We have our quick Kabbat Shabbat service and then go to meet someone from the family we are going to eat at for dinner. We walk for 25mins to their house. It was us three, and four other random people doing the same thing as us with a family of four kids...half Canadian and American.

*The next day. Yom Shabbat

We get woken up at about 10:15am to head to the kotel to meet up with the next family that will be hosting us for lunch. We had no clue that we also had a place for a shabbat day meal. We go to the kotel, wait awhile and then go to an older couple's house in the old city. It was an amazing meal...even with a good english Cloant. They even knew Rabbi Yisroel's father from England. After the meal we went to go take a nap under a tree just west of the old city in a nice park. While hanging out, a young guy about 20 years old starts talking to us. He turns out to be this random, Christian Arab. My friend Eillnor is really friendly and starts speaking to him...all in hebrew. The next two hours we are walking around with this guy just speaking was good practice, but really really weird. He was tottaly trying to hit on her. So after we had enough we decided to make up that we need to go meet someone and that we have to leave him...he leaves after an awkward kiss he gave to her...

We then had too much time left on our hands before the buses start running for our ride back to Kibbutz.
We go to a few bars and just hang out and have a few drinks. It was a really great time and the three of us became even closer after our shabbat bonding.

So what a shabbat. I hope I get to have many more experiences like this.

Next Blog... My first day at work and my Birthday!

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