For our first Shabbat in Israel, we decided to host tefilah (prayer services) and a potluck dinner at our apartment. We made a baked lemon chicken dish for the main course, which turned out surprisingly good considering that neither myself, Liz, nor Jacob are veterans in the kitchen! Shabbat prep involved a lot of cooking, errand-running, and cleaning, not to mention service planning. For those who didn't want or have time to go to synagogue, we decided to have services in our living room about an hour before dinner. We made an outline using Mishkan Tefilah and Shireinu, and rehearsed all the melodies and harmonies beforehand. We had about 10 people at the start of the service, and more shuffled in over the course of the hour. It was a really fun cantorial collaboration, and we all had huge grins on our faces throughout the entire service!
We also invited our friend Ben to deliver a drash, which morphed into a really interesting discussion about some of the pertinent issues we face as Jewish professionals when we move to and join new communities. In the past, I have only participated in these types of discussions in a more formal, structured setting like a classroom or workshop. It blows my mind that we can have these conversations sitting in a circle in my living room, and that we are all so committed to continuing the discourse throughout the year.
The entire night was perfect, with the exception of our grumpy (and mildly terrifying) downstairs neighbor screaming at us in Hebrew as people were leaving at the end of the night. Even that didn't ruin such a wonderful Shabbat. We started and ended the night with guitars and singing, and spent the night surrounded by great food and even better friends. I woke up this morning and despite the pile of dishes in the sink, my cheeks were sore from smiling.
Shabbat Shalom l'kulam! I can't wait to update with more of our Israel adventures in the next few days.