Thursday, December 25, 2008

How We Spent Yom Hag Hamoled

Last night (December 24) Liz and took our visiting friends, Burt and Alice, to Schmuel's, where we met up with our Israeli friends, Mauricio and Nurit. Burt and Alice arrived in Israel that morning. We fed them lunch and sent them off for a nap. We woke them a few hours later, fed them dinner (with potato latkes) and hauled them off to Schmuel's. We are very cool friends.

I wrote about Schmuel's last year when Mauricio got me warmed up for my Super Bowl all nighter. Schmuel has lately gone on a Brazilian music kick with a wonderfully talented trio playing on Fridays and other holiday evenings. Last night was the last concert for the lead singer, Nillson, who is going home to Brazil to pursue acting gigs. The group plays bossa nova, samba and lots of other mellow Brazilian dance tunes, some of which they wrote themselves. Listening to this under Schmuel's crusader arches is a transcendent experience. The crowd attracted to the music is largely Brazilian plus locals who know what's good. To get a better feel for the place than I can convey please check out for photos and music clips.

To protect the band, dancers and my drinks from the winds and rain, Schmuel has made large curtains out of coffee bean sacks provided by Mauricio. In addition to being Brazilian music night, it was also the fourth night of Hanukah and also the eve of Yom Hag Hamoled (The Day of The Festival of the Birth). As if Tel Avivans need an excuse to party.

OK, so everyone is merrily drinking and smoking their way through the evening. Lots of smiling faces and mellow dancing. Around 11pm the band takes a break. Everyone's attention is called to the bar where Schmuel and Nillson are about to light the menorah that has taken up a prominent place all evening. Schmuel has put on a kippah and holds a prayer book (kept under the bar? kept with his stash?). He recites the blessings while Nillson lights the candles. The entire crowd of about 40 pleasantly inebriated people joins in singing Maoz Tsur (Rock of Ages) to a Samba beat. We really love this country.

Today, Liz and I got up at 5:30am, caught an early bus to Jerusalem to attend Joshua's Bar Mitzvah (Becky's friend Jesse's younger brother). Trust me, functioning on 4 1/2 hours sleep with a hangover is a young man's game. Nevertheless, the service was just fine (Joshua davened, read Torah and gave a good speech) The brunch was delicious. This all took place in the Mount Zion Hotel. The hotel doesn't seem to get a lot of buzz. Its built into a hill just down the road from the wall of the Old City. The view alone is worth the 5 stars this place gets in the guides. Family and friends from Israel, New Jersey and Skokie IL gathered together and had a fine old time.

This is not my vacation, this is now how I live.

Happy Holidays to You All.

No comments: