Brining in the Jewish New Year

15 Sep

Israeli Life

One month has passed since we arrived. Daily living seems to present greater challenges here than back home in Austin. For instance, when I first started shopping at the grocery store, before I would even get in the door, the security guard would stop me to check my purse, which is rather large, initially this took some time, but now he knows me, we greet each other and I breeze right in. The small aisles of the grocery store are packed with all sorts of local and imported food. The neighborhood we live in, G’vat Hananyah (Hill of the Gift of God) is strongly international, with a fair share of UN officials mixed in with American Expatriates. G’vat Hananyah, neighborly sits next to Abu Tor, (Father of the Bull) an Arab village, so when walking through the aisles of “Super Deal” it’s common to hear Arabic, Hebrew, English, and French floating all around you (just to mention a few). Somehow, I’ve managed to speak to just about everyone there since I’m trying my best to figure out if I’m buying yogurt, cottage cheese, or sour cream. I’m asking lots of complete strangers questions and trying my best to appear well educated in the midst of smiling and saying, “do you know if this is yogurt?” You see, after a week of using salt in my dishwasher thinking it was detergent I’ve decided it’s best not to leave room for error when I’m not certain of what I’m buying.

Succat Hallel Life
Peter and I have begun some of our responsibilities with Succat Hallel. At present we lead worship on Tuesdays from 10am-noon – which is more of a congregational set with songs that are familiar to those that are gathered – no question by the end of that set, my fingers are aching. I’m still gaining endurance for such extended times of playing. Every other Saturday night Peter and I get the chance to lead worship from 9-11pm – which is our “creative set.” This is more of a time for meditation with a wider space for creative expression and spoken prayers. We’re grateful for the liberty to delve deeper in artistic expression and have it embraced as authentic worship. After all, isn’t God the author of our creativity?

Succat Hallel also offers a three month internship for young people interested in the work here and understanding the significance of prayer for/in this region. Peter and I were asked to help lead the internship. We have 10 interns, one from Switzerland, one from Finland, another from Australia; the others are Americans. Six of the interns are talented musicians and will be available to help lead the prayer/worship vigils. As you can imagine, sustaining 24 hours of prayer and worship every day of the week requires a lot of volunteers, so were are grateful for their help.

We plan to take our Hebrew language courses after the Internship when greater space in the day will be available. Although Peter already has the alphabet down and is beginning to read Hebrew words. Yay for him, my Hebrew growth has been mainly in the area of learning new Hebrew songs, guess my brain is wired to learn through music (like a lot of us.)

Keep praying about the recording studio, since Peter and I have arrived we’ve learned of some technical difficulties, which are delaying the onset of the recording projects. Of course, this is all part of life here and not without surprise. However, Peter and I are quite eager to begin to invest ourselves in this opportunity.

House of Peace Life
My parents arrived in Israel two days ago and we are seriously glad to have them back. We had no idea what taking care of a house this size really meant. In the last three weeks Peter and I have hosted over 11 guests. Having guests in your home brings with it a lot of challenges, washing endless amounts of sheets and towels (no big American washing machines here), cleaning all six bathrooms, constantly sweeping the stone floors – lets not talk about the dust that’s in this country, cooking food, and keeping conversation flowing. However in light of that, we’ve seen God’s face shown to us through the those that we’ve met, and like Abraham entertaining strangers, we’ve received more than we’ve been given.

The Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year began Wednesday night, in Jewish culture, the day begins at sundown, which is why I say Wednesday night. We were invited to dinner with some close Israeli friends who live in a suburb of Jerusalem. It was our first time taking part in a Rosh Hashanah meal, which was all in Hebrew – thanks to Abby for translating for us. It was really beautiful to share this evening with friends. I’ve included pictures, to help you get a sense of the night.

This is at Youval and Valarie’s house, all their family is gathered around taking care of last minute details.

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Look at the beautiful table, set with fresh figs and pomegranates, lovely!

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The night begins with prayer, a blessing over the wine and the Challah. The Challah on Rosh Hashannah is circlular, because each year starts and ends with Rosh Hashanah, it’s also made with lots of honey, so that your year may be as sweet as the challah.

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Then we ate apples dipped in honey, so that our year would be sweet. This is Yonadav, Youval and Valerie’s son, enjoying the sweet treat.

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Then we ate beats, so that God would cause our enemies to “beat it.” Somehow the Hebrew/English translation of this works. After we ate our beats we ate some of the fresh figs sitting on the table, since figs are the first fruit of the year. Then we also ate pomegranate seeds, to also symbolize the sweetness that the year would bring.

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After all the prayers and eating lots of little sweet things, we ate our dinner, which was a feast prepared by Youval- a chef at one time. Needless to say, it was delicious!

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Peter and Youval

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Valerie and me and then Abby and me.

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Thanks again to the Yanay family for inviting us to this lovely meal!

Peter and I are beginning to acclimate to our new life here, thank you for your continued prayers, emails, thoughts and support, without you, we would not be able to be here. We are grateful!

Much Grace,
Peter and Joy

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