Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eat a Falafel and Chips for Me

A number of my friends, in commenting about “The Schmuck Parade,” my escapades in the I’m-searching-for-a-good-guy-in-NYC quest, have told me that they’re happy to take a back seat and live the adventure vicariously through me.

Although I can certainly appreciate vicariousness in certain situations, if given a choice, it’s not the way I’d opt to visit Israel. However, since it doesn't appear that I'll have the opportunity to visit there anytime in the foreseeable future, it’s the only mode of travel I’ve got at the moment. Lucky for me, though, with 300-some Reform rabbis gallivanting around Eretz Yisrael attending a professional conference this week in Jerusalem, I’m certainly getting a good dose of virtual Israel through them.

For starters, every afternoon at about the same time a certain rabbi calls from the Inbal Hotel to check in on what’s happening back home in New York. Bizarre as it sounds, when we chat, some of the magic of Jerusalem comes right through the phone and lingers in my office until long after we’ve ended our call. Yup, that’s Jerusalem for you.

Others are posting regularly on Facebook and their blogs. And so it is that I know that today, many of the women visited the Wall, where, as part of the observance of Rosh Chodesh, they created quite a ruckus by singing, which, according to traditional Jewish law, women are forbidden from doing in places where it can be heard by men. Here's a first-person account from one of the women who was there. And here's another perspective from one of the men. Although I'm not a rabbi and although I wasn’t there to sing in person, I certainly was there with them in spirit.

And then there’s the falafel. Before they left, I asked a few of the travelers to eat a falafel and chips for me. One, a young rabbi from Minnesota, gave me, again with the help of Facebook, a delightful description of his culinary experience yesterday:

Young rabbi: “I wandered around Jerusalem this afternoon before the conference started and managed to find my favorite falafel place at the Mahane Yehuda market. I didn't take the most direct route, but I found it, and had falafel in a pita with chips and hot sauce for you!”

Me: “You're the best! Thanks...hope you enjoyed it.”

Young rabbi: “I did enjoy. My stomach, not so much. :) But I'm still glad I had one.”

Me: “Should I take a Tums?!"

Young rabbi: “I think we'll be okay. :)”

Me: “Great! Enjoy the rest of the visit.”

Another, who’s hoping to post a lot of photos and video during the trip said, “I’ll try and capture myself with a falafel and chips…or more likely a schwarma." (Mission accomplished...that's him over there on the right.)

To which I replied, “Schwarma’s good too…enjoy!”

Indeed, in addition to falafel and schwarma, I hope that all those rabbis eat and drink so generously of the indescribable electricity, magic and spirit of Israel that when they return safely home they've got plenty left to share with the rest of us.

Travel safely and Godspeed, my friends.