THURSDAY, 18TH JULY
Jeremy's birthday today, so managed to catch him on the phone before we got too far into the morning. On a mission now to find him a birthday present, what an opportunity to get a Holy Land item!
The Siddur was based on 'For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe.' 'The great, the powerful and the awesome God' Deut. 10:17
Spurred on by those encouraging thoughts, we had our busiest day so far. Two Leviticus lectures in the morning, then in the afternoon we got down to the real present day stuff. Hana Bendcowsky, an Israeli woman who is on the Board of Bat Kol, gave us great insight with her talk on 'Relations in Israel'. For the second session Hana was joined by a Palestinian, and together they shared with us their own personal stance on their situation, how their lives are afftected and what are their hopes for the future. An evocative afternoon.
The day finished on an inspirational, spiritual high with a session on Jewish prayer led by Yair Harel who sang and taught us prayers, some of which have existed for up to 2,000 years. For more of this fabulous way of worshipping, visit piyut.org.il
And so to bed!
FRIDAY, 19TH JULY
Siddur, that great start to the day, was about the difference between human power (to destroy, subdue, imprison and take away freedom of the people) and the blessing of God's unlimited power to give life, to sustain life, to heal the sick, to free the captive and to raise the dead, defined in terms of God's acts of 'loving kindness'.
First lecture from Rabbi Alona Lisitsa was about the Jewish Festivals, a straightforward subject, followed by Mordecai Silverstein on Haftarah for Tzav. Marge Zdunich followed late afternoon with a great session on Parashat Vaetchanan.
Then it was time to choose between Shabbat supper or Synagogue, nine of us chose Synagogue, perhaps seeming like Maureena's disciples and sat around her. Then it was time to return to St Charles for a picnic supper which we had planned for the garden but finally enjoyed in the kitchen. We turned the supper into a Shabbat with the appropriate liturgy even if the food was perhaps a bit less appropriate - bread, cheese, houmous, salad, fruit and a glass or two of vino - with good company, perfect. Pictures will follow en bloc soon.
SATURDAY, 20TH JULY
More free day today, so breakfasted a bit later, 8.00 a.m. then three of us were off to the Synagogue for the Sabbath liturgy including the reading of the Torah. This service lasts about three hours but you can come and go as you wish so we stayed about an hour and a half. Carolyna and I took a taxi to the Old City for some souvenir shopping. Having looked at 'street' food we decided it might be safer to go to a cafe for lunch. To say we were surprised is an understatement when we ordered water, Coke and two sandwiches for which we were waiting over half an hour, only to find them being delivered from the 'street' food vendor!!!
Back for two hours of Hebrew, supper, and then the blessing of going to Maureena's for coffee and a chat. Re-energised I have now come back and caught up with my blog except for the photos. It needed to be done tonight as tomorrow we are out from 11 a.m. to late evening on an excursion to Ein Kerem, followed on Monday and Tuesday with the two day excursion to the Desert. Catch up again later in the week - till then prayers appreciated for two quite gruelling excursions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When I get back to UK I hope to be writing up all my notes of lectures, etc. and these will be available to anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the teaching.