Saturday, October 25, 2014

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat (the Sabbath) starts Friday at sundown for Jews. Haifa's International School hosted a Shabbat dinner yesterday night for all of us Jewish and non-Jewish students. There are actually a lot of other non-Jews here. I'm not the only one who had this idea :)

It was pretty interesting because it's such a diverse group of people. Besides a few other Americans, there were people sitting around me from Romania, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands...and a lot more places I don't remember! It totally reminded me of the FLSR.

There was an orthodox rabbi there who led all of the traditional blessings and songs. He was kind of an eccentric guy who was really into what he was doing even when his audience was more into eating than singing yet another song. At one point he was reminding me of Norm Macdonald because he told this really long story that had very little point to it. One of my favorite parts was when his cute 2 year old daughter was reciting scripture verses for us. She was shy at first but when she found out she would get applause she wanted to keep talking haha.

I enjoyed my second Jewish Shabbat dinner! It was a good way to celebrate coming back to Israel. It was also fun to meet other people from the International School. I think it was worth getting the song Shalom Aleichem stuck in my head for probably forever.

Today, Saturday, I got up bright and early to go to Mormon church. That's a bit of an interesting situation. The only places that have LDS congregations in Israel are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Tiberias. Tiberias is the closest city to Haifa, which is funny because it's completely across the country. Thankfully, in a little country like Israel that only means it's an hour away.

On the Sabbath in Israel pretty much everything shuts down and there's no public transportation. Since everyone is so spread out, the church hires a taxi to bring people to church. I got picked up this morning, we picked up someone else along the way, and then trekked across the country from the Mediterranean to the Sea of Galilee.

The awesome thing about the branch building is its amazing view of the Sea of Galilee!

That's not an amazing picture, but you can kind of tell!

For a few better pictures of the building, here's my post from visiting here during the Jerusalem program.

Today I counted 13 people at church. Something I wasn't expecting was how many people spoke Hebrew. There are several people who have lived here long-term (some with mixed Jewish/Mormon roots) who speak Hebrew in their daily lives. For a lot of people Hebrew is kind of the lingua franca to talk to other people in the branch. I loved hearing the sacrament prayers in Hebrew :). I was laughing that I ended up speaking and hearing way more Hebrew at church than I did at a Shabbat dinner.

Here's a glimpse of the linguistic diversity of the branch- the program.

Today there were Americans, Israelis, Spanish-speakers, and a girl from Germany. I heard sometimes there's also Arabic speakers and Filipinos there.

I guess that concludes my first Shabbat experience in Israel. I've been pretty happy because I love being surrounded by international stuff.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes! Shabbat shalom, everyone!!

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