In case you were worried, yes, we DID survive Shavuot, two day-ness and all.
On Erev Shavuot, we went to the Kotel (Yaakov is unfortunately confused between the "Kotel" and "Eretz Nehederet" and spent much of our time there wondering when we were finally going to to to the Kotel. I'm sure God is shaking His - or Her - head and wondering how on His good green earth I managed, as a parent, to screw that one up.) Anyway, the reason for the trip to the Kotel (only our second one since we came; sorry, again, God.) was that the family of a former student of mine was making a bar mitzvah there. My student, Deena, had emailed me months and months ago telling me they were coming in May for her brother's bar mitzvah and that they wanted to invite me. And unlike the hordes of third graders that you say a tearful goodbye to every June, promising to give each other big hugs in September, and then come September, forget the hug, they barely recognize you and they have only a vague recollection that the holes do, in fact, go on the left, Deena did remember me and sent an invitation inviting our whole family to davening at the Kotel and then a shindig over Shavuot/Shabbat in the hotel. It was really quite sweet and touching, and although we declined to join them in the hotel (a decision which many of our friends, specifically Robbie Sassoon, told us we were foolish for making, but come on, do you want to be sleeping for two nights in the same room as Heavy Breather and his sister, Bunny Rattle? I thought not.), we did join them at the Kotel for the davening/layning. Well, at least the kids and I made it for davening. Donny dropped us off and then went to look for parking, a feat worthy of Odysseus, and made it in time for the last strands of "Aleinu." But Deena and her family were thrilled to see us - I got a lovely bone-crushing hug from Deena - and when the davening was over, we said goodbye and "shmied" around the Old City with the kids. Walked around, bought some shoko - in bags, of course. Ariella was fascinated with the "sha'arim," having learned about them in school, and thus exposed our weaknesses when it comes to the ancient entrances to the city of Jerusalem. "That is sha'ar Yafo," we said authoritatively. "And that one is, um, also sha'ar Yafo," we said a few minutes later, a little less authoritatively. But our gig was up - we humbly admitted that we did not know the sha'arim and would look them up for next time, ma'am.
After Yaakov flew to the car (it's sooo much faster than walking), we headed over to Beit Shemesh to visit Aunt Leezy, Uncle Elie, Netanel, and of course, Geraldo. Tomorrow, God willing, Geraldo will be getting his real name. But I may still call him Geraldo, for kicks. He was tiny and cute and soft and enjoyed being held by Aunt Gila.
The Roses star in.....Escape From Dimri!
Yes, it was our first stunt scene for our upcoming movie. Walking home from shul on Shavuot, it was quite hot and the children, who had walked so beautifully on Thursday through the Old City, could now not handle a ten minute walk home. We decided to take the "through the building" shortcut. For those of you not familiar with the Dimri layout, there are 9 buildings. We are number six. There is not an indoor passageway connecting the buildings, but if you walk through each individual building, you can at least get out of the sun as you make your way to number six. So we arrived at Building #1. Many Dimri buildings have two entrances and exits - one for the residents, and one for the offices that occupy the ground floor. Donny opened the door to the office wing. "I don't think this is right," I said, (that's right, I WARNED HIM. Let this go on record.) "I think we need to go through the other entrance." But the door was opened, so we walked in. We reached the other side. Door locked. Haha, thought we. We will simply go back the way we came. The door must have been left open by accident, however (dimribyaccident), because when we reached the door we had come through, it, too, was locked. From the inside. We were in the proverbial pickle. Luckily, there was a window to the outside that opened easily (to deter the burglars, you understand). I hoisted myself up and out, a delicate sight to be sure, then Donny handed me Ariella and Yaakov, before coming through himself. We certainly provided entertainment to the nice grandfather out playing with his grandkids in front of the building. The truth is, he didn't even look at us so strangely. He must have not listened to his wife, once, also.
Second Highlight: The Kiddush!
In Which Random Jews Take Our Seats
We arrived on Shabbat to the festive, Super Duper Gala Deluxe Kiddush Rabbah! Yay!!!! In order to make this even more festive and Super, not to mention Duper, Gala, and Deluxe, they had set up tables and chairs in the (sort of) shade. This was a formal event, people. The problem was that there were not quite enough seats for all the people. Especially because there were folks there who I don't believe ever stepped foot in this shul before, maybe are not even from Modi'in, but got whiff of the shnitzel and Yerushalmi kugel, and planted themselves down. Took up an entire row. The best row. In the shade. And kicked me out. "This entire row is taken," they informed me, calmly removing my "I'm saving this seat bag" and placing it on a chair directly in the sun. Luckily, some nice people took pity on us and found us seats. We ate, we enjoyed, we went to the park, we went home WITHOUT getting locked in the building, we ate again. 'Cuz you can never eat too many lunches.
PS Every time we pass Building #1 Yaakov starts wailing, "I want to climb through the window again!" If there's a little blond Israeli actor who needs a stunt double, I have your man.