On Friday we went to visit the Sassoons in Maale Adumim. We had a grand old time. First, we stopped at the famous Kinyon in Maale Adumim, which is famous for being in Maale Adumim. We went to a bakery to get treats, of course, we can't stay away from these bakeries, and then to a separate bakery which specialized in bread. We picked up some ruglach and pitas and headed over to dine with the Sassoons in their sukkah overlooking the Judean Desert. As we've mentioned before, the Sassoons are REAL Israelis. They take busses, live in a desert, and think large bugs are cool. We had a delicious meal of pita and chummus and rugelach - by the time the chagim are over, we'll probably have eaten a bakery's worth of pita and rugelach. It's just so good! The Sassoons then took us to an authentic Maale Adumim park and the kids ran around for about 45 minutes. It was great to see them and we were glad Ariella had a chance to reconnect with Noam and Tehila.
Then, at 2:30, it was nearly Shabbat, so we said our tearful goodbyes and headed into Yaakov's favorite city, Shuh-shoo-shalayim. (Sadly for Yaakov, we did not blow the "fofar" while we were there.) We were staying at Donny's aunt and uncle, David and Adi Samson for Shabbat. Speaking of real Israelis, the Samsons are it. Even though David is a native English speaker, Adi is not, so their children grew up speaking exclusively Hebrew. They live in an apartment in Kiryat Moshe, which is very close to the Kotel and even closer to the Park Plaza Hotel, which I know because we stayed there (at the hotel) once and walked to the Samsons. So there's a little bit of Jerusalem geography for you. We were staying in an apartment about a block away, although in Jerusalem it's more accurate to say it was a few staircases away. The Samsons do not have a mirpeset, so their sukkah is downstairs. I went with the kids to shul Friday night, because I naively thought that since they each had a lollipop, I might actually get to daven in a shul, something I haven't done since 2003. Ha! Silly woman! Or, as Gandalf would say, "Fool!" The end of the lollipops coincided with the end of minchah. For those of you who have been out of shul for even longer, I'll explain: Too soon. There was a speech, so I took them out to run around. I figured once it was maariv, they would be tired enough to sit for a few minutes. Wrong again! I had to leave in the middle of shemona esrei because Yaakov kept repeating, in a very loud, American voice, "Is shul over? Is shul over? I want anana lollipop. Is shul over?" So I took him out. After shul, we walked home to the most amazing sukkah ever. It immediately reminded me of the Weasleys' tent at the Quidditch World Cup. It's in the back of their (the Samsons', not the Weasleys') building, and when you look at it, all you see are 3 sukkah boards next to each other. You're wondering, "How are we ALL going to fit in here?" The Samsons have a big family, some of whom are married with their own families and were there for Shabbat. Then, you get closer, and you realize the 3 boards are only doors to the actual sukkah. You open the door and walk down the steps to the hugest sukkah you've ever seen. There are 3 actual rooms, with doors and everything. There's a bedroom, a dining room, and a kitchen. In the kitchen, they set up a hot plate, so we were able to transfer food directly from the hot plate upstairs to the one in the sukkah. The kitchen also has all of your needs so you don't need to keep schlepping them for every meal - paper goods, drinks, napkins, etc. The coolest part was how they rigged a water line from their apartment and set up a sink so we could wash in the sukkah. The sukkah was big enough for all of us (and Friday night, we were 18, I believe), with extra room for the kids to play. Their favorite game was "Walk Up the Stairs. Then Walk Down the Stairs." It was a little hard to be a part of the general conversation, though, which was all in Fast Hebrew. Real Israelis.
Shabbat morning, Ariella and Yaakov entertained themselves with toys they found in the apartment we were sleeping at. Our children were born with homing devices in their noses which lead them directly to toys, no matter how old, dusty, or broken. (And these toys were all three.) As we were getting ready to leave for the Samsons, Ariella accidentally knocked a glass cup off the table. These Israeli floors show no mercy to glass, so it shattered into a million little pieces, which I tried my best to clean up. We then headed over to the Samsons for breakfast. The kids had cereal, and then Adi insisted that I try this cheesecake made by her daughter-in-law. So I did, of course, and it was quite excellent. Meiri, husband of the baker, walked in and sat down to have some cake as well. We had an enjoyable breakfast together, which consisted of eating our cake in silence and looking anywhere but at each other so as to avoid having to make conversation. Not that he's not a very sweet kind of guy, but his English is not so great, and we all know the status of my Hebrew at the moment. ("Shalom! Mah Shlomech? Hakol B'seder!") Donny came home and had kiddush in the sukkah, and then we hung around and played games with the kids until lunch. The lunch crowd was a little smaller, since Meiri and his family were eating at his in-laws, and we were able to talk more with the rest of the Samsons. They were impressed that Ariella knew her alef-bet, and that Yaakov knows his "chuf" (the only Hebrew letter he knows, since it stands for "kenisah" and is on our elevator.) In the afternoon, we hung out at the Samsons, with Ariella and Yaakov trying (unsuccessfully) to kill, or at least maim, each other, and Donny and I trying (unsuccessfully) to nap. Then, time for shul again! I tried sending Ariella to shul with Donny, but Yaakov insisted on tagging along, so I was left to my own devices. Meiri came back with his kids, and we had another delightful conversation of smiles and nods. His kids are really cute, though, so it was fun to just watch them play. Then - back from shul! More eating! And Ariella had the knack for needing to use the bathroom just as we sat down in the sukkah. After seudah shlishit, maariv, and havdalah, we headed back to the apartment. We left our hosts 20 NIS and a note explaining about the broken glass; hopefully it was somewhat understandable. I think it was more like, "Shalom! Thanks to you for your hosting! We are sorry but we broke your cup of glasses! Please accept this money of repayment!" Anyway, we headed back, even though Donny's mother and Yael were on their way to the Samsons to visit. We wanted to stay, but the kiddies needed (read: Gila needed the kiddies) to be bathed and sent to bed. Donny did some food shopping tonight because - this may come as a shock - we are actually going to be HOME for Simchat Torah. (In case you are wondering, Israelis don't know from "Shemini Atzeret." They call the last day of Sukkot "Simchat Torah," which is interesting because if you are going to pick one of the 2 names, you'd think you'd go with the one that's in the Torah to begin with.) Tomorrow we plan to do an actual Israeli tiyul - the Dead Sea, so I wanted to get our food shopping out of the way.
PS Some new Hebrew words we learned at Thursday's trip to the ice cream shop:
kadur - this can mean ball, bullet, or scoop of ice cream
gevia - this can mean silver goblet or cone.
So, if you want 2 scoops of ice cream, OR if you want 2 bullets in a silver goblet, you only need to know one phrase! What a fantastic language!
PPS The title of this post is pretty meaningless, just meant to highlight the radical difference in temperatures once the sun goes down. It was weird to be baking in the sun at 2:00 and then freezing our patootsies off at 7:00. Also, I liked the way it sounded.