The last day was a great Shabbat in Jerusalem. Last night, I arrived at Aryeh Bernstein's in the afternoon before an early Shabbat (candle lighting was a little after 4 with shkiah closer to 5). We went to the Minyan Shivyoni Baka and then to a great dinner at a friend's apartment. In addition to people from the Conservative Yeshiva, Pardes, and foreign rabbinical students, there was a couple from the US with two small children. The man, Alex, went to Maimonides with Deborah (even though they haven't seen each other since high school). Also, one of the rabbinical students has a brother and sister-in-law in Northampton.
It was a great night of intelligent conversation with people from a variety of Jewish backrounds. All of Aryeh's friends are intellectual and tend to be on the traditional end of liberal Judaism (or the liberal end of traditional Judaism). After a long, leisurely dinner, we walked back to Aryeh's apartment. At his apartment, we talked about critical Talmud study and halakhah until his lights turned out.
This morning, I went to Minyan Kedem. It was nice, Ramah-style davening. It did not seem like too many people spoke Hebrew as a native language. They had a great kiddush. Noam Raucher met me there. Noam was a CIT at Ramah and was a student at Hofstra when I worked there. It was great to see him now that he is a mature Rabbinical Student (at the Ziegler School in CA). He is spending his year at Machon Schechter. A JTS student and two HUC students visiting for their break joined us for lunch. I brough the Marzipan rugelach--yum!
At 3:30, I walked to the home of Audrey and Harvey Scher. Audrey is an proud Smith alumna who is friends with Renee. She returns each time her class has a reunion and is also the chair of the Pardes board. I spent around two hours talking to them about Smith, Northampton, me, and we played a few rounds of Jewish geography. They know people living in Northampton and their daughter worked one summer at CRNE as mishlachat. I returned to Aryeh's apartment after havdalah. Aryeh was hosting a number of people visiting Jerusalem who had attended Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa with him. We all davened Maariv together and I got to hear him teach a little.
Thanks to Aryeh for an amazing Shabbat in Baka/Talpiot. Even though I have been to Jerusalem a few times since we last lived here in 1998, a Shabbat like this makes me realize that there is no place like Jerusalem (and especially no place like Baka/Talpiot/German Colony). I have to get my family here for an extended period (Deborah, I hope you read this. Start planning for a year here before Zev's bar mitzvah)!
Motzei Shabbat, I met Devorah Schoenfeld and we walked around, had some schwarma, and did a little shopping.