Friday, January 28, 2011

Pics and points of view

So it's been little over a month since I last updated this blog and the reason is quite simple: it's been a rough month, but I won't delve into the sad specifics, suffice to say it's tough to change language, country, city and culture, and that when the novelty wears off, it gets tougher. Being single for protracted periods of time doesn't help much wither. Today I was supposed to go to Ramat Beit Shemesh to spend Shabbes with a friend, but unfortunately Egged had decided to runt their last bus there at 14.00, so I had to cancel. Below, please find some pics and action points.

* I did manage to get to Tzfat about a month ago, and it was a very pleasant stay in an environment very different from the one in Beer Sheva. I stayed at the Chabad run Ascent hostel – clean, friendly and cheap and I dearly recommend it for anyone interested in spending some time in Tzfat. Tzfat is located in the Galilee, high up in the mountains, on a mountain top, and it usually snows in winter. When I was there it was very cool and windy. It offers a fantastic panorama of the surrounding environs.

Blue is the typical color of Tzfat, and you will see it everywhere you turn - in Synagogues, houses and streets. The people of Tzfat is an eclectic mix of different Ortodox Jews and loudmouthed American Tourist Groups, mostly college aged kids arriving on tour buses and bustling around for a few hours, usually leaving around sunset. Tsfat is also home to a large artist community, and hence you will see a breed of people here that you won't find anywhere else – the religious Bohemian, dressed in an old color stained leather jacket, jeans, Dr. Martins and long, dangling peyot.

In Tzfat you will also find the below Sephardic Abyhav Synagogue,  which in my view is the most beautiful Synagogue in the world, traditionally richly decorated with painted details in vivid colors.

Among the many paintings in the dome of Abyhav is one of the Dome of the Rock mosque, which strikes you as sort of nice in these times of religious and ethnical strife. The text under the mosque reads "Place of the Holy Temple".

The most famous of Tzfats Rabbis was Ari Hakadosh, and he has two Synagogues called up after him. The one where he actually prayed is the Sephardic Ari Hakadosh Shul, which nowadays unfortunately is only open on Shabbes. The below one is the Ashkenazi Ari Hakadosh Shul, which by the way is the most beautiful Ashkenazi Shul I ever seen.

The Ari also constructed a Mikveh, and legend has it that anyone who bathes in this ice-cold cave Mikveh is guaranteed to make full Teshuva (repentance) during his lifetime. Below yours truly after a morning dip.

The last day I went to pray at the Ari's grave site, which like many tombs in Tzfat is painted blue. Saying the prayers at his grave I felt like caught up in a very strong electric field. It was a strong religious experience.

Some time after my stay in Tzfat I went on a blind date in Jerusalem. We had a nice time even though we won't be seeing each other again. Just in front of the Central bus station they've dug up a 100 meter deep crater, which I assume will some time house the station for the new tram. 

And a few more examples of the adventurous and often fascinating Beer Sheva architecure....

* I started the process to switch my drivers license to an Israeli one. In doing so I will have to take a few driving lessons. Which is funny considering Israelis can't drive at all.

* The cashiers at my local Supersol is breaking new records in how much time the can waste on every single customer. More generally it is strange that a people with so little patience as the Israelis have, have created a society that demand so very much of it.

* Winter has finally arrived which means that night temperatures are really low and daytime varies between 15 and 25.

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