Well, it has been a combination of finally having a "real life" here (meaning work, and lots of it, and not so much time to reflect and observe) and so many things going on (Israel's 60th anniversary, seeing friends, Galron things) and I have not had much time or inclination to write.
So tonight you get an update!
On Israel's 60th--picture July 4th, with a lot of editorials and polls saying the government should not spend a lot of money on a celebration, but put it toward the many social issues all countries have. The big buzz was Bank HaPoalim's marketing gesture of having flags made, only the magein (star) was wrong--the top point should point at the band of blue at the top of the flag, and Poalim's star had it so that the top point was pointing at blank white space. See the picture. They put the flags in ALL of the newspapers--everybody had one! It was quite a scandal!
On Lag b'Omer the medurot (bonfires) were spectacular and scary in some cases. Mike Cummings (who has been here for months--we have emailed and phoned but not met) had a lovely falafel dinner and some beers and a long talk, then went out to see the fires. No supervision, no fire department presence, just a lot of kids playing with fire! Mike commented about OSU football games and how people burn cars randomly--that never happens here, and Mike and I think it is because Israelis of all generations get the firebug out of themselves on this one night!
Shavuot I simply couldn't face--an all-nighter studying Torah, in Hebrew. I stayed home and made myself a meal with lots of cheese!
The fourth weekend in May saw the gathering of all of the Reform/Liberal congregations for a convention. The Shabbat services took center stage, and I was asked to lead the service (representing Beit Daniel) for the reading of the Torah--my first in over a year and a half. I studied the liturgy (there is more/different here) and put together my "book" and drove to the site the week before to be sure I knew where it was. Then there was "the day" and I met Cantor Evan Cohen, an emigre from the US who offered to help me and whom I joined for several prayers in an earlier part of the service. When my turn came, I was BACK IN THE SADDLE! What I didn't know, I had made up--and everyone sang along, because what I need is inside myself already. It was the loveliest chaos with all sorts of diverse people called to make the blessings before and after the readings. One was for all the people who came from other countries to live here--40 people, including me! I finally saw that I'm really "on the team."
Later in the day was the Cantor's Concert--I sang with Iris Weiner, Evan Cohen, and others. It was lovely...
A week later I led the Friday evening service with guitarist/singer Boaz. We worked out the issues of pitching his songs higher, and then I pitched all of my a capella stuff WAY TOO LOW!! It was terrible, to talk the song instead of singing it, and it was my own damned fault--I have lost the "feel" of starting some of the songs so that I can start and then the congregation can join. I will get it back , but I need more experience.
But as usual, everyone heard what they wanted to hear. (In this case, that's good!)
The next day I traveled with the senior rabbi of Beit Daniel, Rabbi Meir Azari, to a private home to "do" a bar mitzvah. My first mincha service, my first Ashrei (yes, my "born" Jewish friends, go ahead and laugh!!) and I was sweating it. Lots of new liturgy, and an audience of people who have spent their lives avoiding the synagogue so they didn't know much of anything to sing along.
I did it, they were surprised to see a woman, but not averse, and the young man aquitted himself admirably. And I DID it. And supported Rabbi Azari. On the way back to Tel Aviv, I told him how nice it was to meet Evan Cohen and Meir told me "you know, none of the cantors in Israel are 'ordained'"--well I didn't know that, and it made me feel much better.
So I am working on the parts of the Saturday morning service I don't know, and working for Hadassah, and figuring out when I can get back to the States to see my kids.
That's it, and good night!