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The Normal and the Holy

Posted on 07/23/2011 @ 11:08 AM

Here in Tel Aviv we have spent a lot of time talking about the concept of חול וקודש - the normal and the holy.  Shabbat for PDI Cohort 2 in Israel's cultural capital is a perfect example of this principal in action.  For the first time on our trip, we were given the day off, and we all enjoyed the day off with a variety of activities across the spectrum.

Several people rose early and attended services at a local orthodox synagogue in Tel Aviv.  Services were very traditional and brief, and I'm told the oneg was sub-par.  Another group slept late after enjoying Tel Aviv's legendary nightlife on Friday, and then decamped for what may be described the typical Tel Aviv shabbat: laying out at the beach, and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.  The sun was high and hot, but the water was perfect, and the 6-8ft surf was just right for playing around and body surfing.  The free time also afforded an opportunity to spend time with local friends.  Many of us know Americans (who have made aliyah) or Israelis that live in the city, and took advantage of the day to catch up with them or enjoy a nice summer lunch in the city.

As havdallah approached, we regrouped to welcome the new week together by the seashore.  The warm sea breeze and gentle lapping of the waves on the beach was the perfect setting for the simple evening service.  After havdallah, we all took cabs to northern Tel Aviv to attend a concert by the band Divan Halev.  They are an eight person collective that is at the forefront of the Sephardi music revival.  They played beautiful, multi-instrument compositions influenced by world music, prayers, and the traditional music of Morrocan, Iraqi, and Yeminite Jews.  After the concert we returned to the hotel for a few hours rest before we began the new week bright and early Sunday morning with Hebrew class.  These one-day Israeli weekends will take some getting used to!

Aaron Bock

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