Friday, December 25, 2009

From (One Person's) Bris to (Another Person's) Funeral. And a Play.

On Rachel's first full day back, we went to a bris, a funeral, and a play. I reminded her that Jerusalem isn't like this all the time. But considering all of the other events that will occur in the next two weeks: two weddings, a bar mitzvah, New Year's, ... I'm not sure I convinced her.

A day on which you go to a bris, a funeral, and a play, is not a day in which you can get much else done. From birth to death to performance.

If it's 8:00 am, it must be a bris

Rachel hugging the sister of the imminent amputee.

Wednesday night we went to a birthday party for a Norwegian friend; most of the other attendees were Norwegian. Thursday morning's bris was for a Swedish couple, held at the Swedish something-or-other on HaNeviim street, and most of the other attendees were Swedish. Though each of these friends are dear to us and part of our usual social circle, neither of the circles at the events contained many people from the usual social circle; in other words, it wasn't a "shul" or "neighborhood" event.

The baby's three young, beautiful children all love Rachel, and had missed her while she was away. They always congregate on her lap in shul.

If it's 1:00 pm, it must be a funeral

A Mount of Olives burial, men at the graveyard, women (and many men) looking over the railing

The funeral was for the father of another dear friend of ours, who was supposed to be the next Rebbe of a certain Hassidic sect, but declined the mantle because he considered himself too involved in the secular world (he had an influence on Herschel, for instance).

Our friends are not Hassidic. It was hard to get close to the graveyard to shovel dirt on one's own, but anyone who wasn't wearing Hassidic garb was assumed to be a family member, and so I (and the gray-haired husband of the one who lost her father, see below) were specifically ushered to the grave for this purpose.

After the actual burial was completed, the women came down. The separation of the sexes at a Jerusalem burial (even the daughter, wife, or mother must remain behind the railing) is not one of my favorite customs (nor is it required in Judaism, I believe, but Haredim control such things in Israel, and their customs tend to prevail).

If it's 8:00 pm, it must be a play

Tal as a maid in The Pirates of Penzance

Tal is my youngest, 16 years old, who is somehow managing to perform in two plays (Pirates of Penzance, Another Antigone) and still keep up her schoolwork. I'm both stunned and proud.

PoP runs again next week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and is well worth the exorbitant ticket price for an amateur production; it's the best show I've seen in Jerusalem, excepting an amazing Shakespeare productions that I saw last summer in Jerusalem's botanical gardens. It has a lovely live orchestra and excellent singing. And it's Gilbert and Sullivan, of course.

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