Shabbat in Netanya

Trip Start Nov 13, 2006
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Trip End Oct 21, 2008


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Friday, December 7, 2007

Religious and non-religious Jews alike like to have a family meal on Friday night to welcome the sabbath. People who know a single person will often invite them to their family house - even if its a stranger. The invitation to my uncle's flat was the opportunity to have a nice meal with nice company in a place infinitely nicer than the MKSH, but with the last bus leaving around 4pm, I knew that I'd be trapped there for the weekend, and as they were religious this would mean no TV, no computer and nothing to do! I accepted the invite and took the last bus out of Ra'anana at 16.10, which took about 20 minutes to travel North to Netanya.

Netanya is a seaside town that reminded me of Venice beach in California, with high rise apartments and activities such as basketball and an outdoor gym along the sandy sea shore. It is populated by a lot of retired jewish people from the UK along with Russian immigrants (who have brought the mafia with them) and there is tension between the groups.

Ruth's religious son Elan was there along with his family, and the meal was a typical Friday night meal - chicken soup followed by roast chicken with vegetables, followed by apple crumble; Friday cannot be a good day for chickens in Israel. The blessings before the meal were said and after the meal they benched - no not a workout (think pot bellies on religious jews), but saying grace after meals. This is where someone (not a woman) does a kind of cross between singing, muttering, and speed reading their way through about 15 pages of prayer while others mutter along with them, daydream, or some (usually women) chat amongst themselves.

After dinner I took a walk along the beach and had a play with the machines on the beach gym (they did not have heavy weights) whilst watching the ocean in the night sky. In the town square there was a little activity - kids on BMX bikes, and a convenience shope was open.
The square looked like a typical town square somewhere like Italy, with a pedestrianised area, and a fountain with surrounding cafes and shops.

The next day I spent the morning in bed reading until lunch and took Moshe(Elan's son and hebrew for Moses) out to play with a ball. He had long hair and Elan explained that this represents that a child should be free and unstructured until age 3. After lunch the family did what I think most religious jews do on a Saturday afternoon -  no not Torah study or introspection - they had a schloff (yidish for sleep). I took a walk along the beach again int he afternoon. This time there were a lot of people about taking walks, sitting on benches, and  using the gym - mainly jeriatrics. I sat on some rocks and as I listened to the waves crashing on the shore I drifted to sleep. The afternoon actually went quicker than I had expected and before I knew it shabbat was nearly over. I said goodbye and took the bus back to Raanana where Iris was having her birthday party.

She had hired out  a room in the MKSH and they had made it into a disco with flashing lights, and hooking up an Ipod to some speakers. there were about 30-40 people and I was starting to recognise most of the faces now. The first half hour or so was like a school disco with everyone standing around with a little too much space and some pretty cheesy music. But after a while the drum beats kicked, the music got faster something happened; the English guy continually waved his arms around like he was at a rave, the south African guy wadlled from foot to foot, the gay guy danced with more girls than anyone else, and the Brazilians ....they went crazy. Before long everyone was into it and inspite of the basic environement and 'eclectic' mix of music, a good night was had by all. 
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