To boldly go where too few have gone before
Week 2 of Yeshiva
My second and last week of Yeshiva was one filled with learning and experiences. Although the first session of the Yeshiva is 3 weeks, I’m going to the Cantors Mission in Spain next week and will miss the end.
This past week included a fascinating lunch time odyssey into a Jerusalem story, a visit to the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School and an Erev Shabbat excursion to the popular First Station.
There was an interesting synchronicity between my Human Rights class and Bible class on King David and his wives. In discussing King David’s reckless opportunism in seducing Bat-Sheva, I learned that her father and husband were both loyal soldiers of the king and her grandfather was a trusted advisor. Further, Uriah was a Hittite, not a Judean at all. Apparently King David was very wise in allowing meritorious non-Judean/Israelites to rise in the ranks.
This became even more interesting when the Human Rights class was discussing the views of Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn of the late 19th early 20th century. Although most authorities believed that the command to Joshua was to annihilate the seven nations was inoperable because they no longer existed, they still believed theoretically in the ‘command’ to do so.
Rabbi Hirschenson disagreed. He said even if we were to find a Girgashite or a Canaanite that we have good evidence that we should NOT annihilate them. After all, we’re told that King Solomon asked for tribute from them much later. Further, King David, who was no pacifist, certainly would have complied had he understood this to be a command as he was a brutal warrior. Not only did he not do so, but he even had Hittites at the top of his own military food chain. When he arranges for Uriah to be killed, it is not because he is a Hittite but because he wants to get away with his fling with Bat Sheva.
In Hebrew class, since they knew I was leaving for Spain next week, the teacher asked me to sing a bit for the ‘Shabbat’ portion of the Thursday class and I sang a few pieces from the South American collection of music, Ruach HaDarom, some of which will be featured this coming Kabbalat Shabbat in Madrid.
So I decided to go downtown for my lunch this past Sunday and after enjoying a schnitzel on King George, I walked back towards the Conservative Center. As I was walking on one of the small streets that are primarily pedestrian, I noticed what looked like a fascinating mural across the street.
I looked behind me and saw the first chapter of a 7 part story with a map telling me where the rest of the murals and plaques would be. The story was called Proposal and involved a couple of friends, one of whom loves Jerusalem and the other who can’t stop complaining about it to the point of boredom.
It was too late to track down the rest of the story so I went back to class and decided that I would find the rest of the narrative on Monday during lunch.
Know what they say about ‘best laid plans’? I have a pretty good sense of direction and can read a map. I even like to avoid using GPS systems when I can. I went to the corner where the map showed #2 and #3 should be and I was stymied. There was no indication of a mural or a story plaque on a wall. Was it a trick? Was I supposed to go into a store? Was it on the second floor of some building?
I tried the online site and it wouldn’t come up.
I walked in a different direction down Jaffa Street, looking for a lunch I hadn’t enjoyed in Jerusalem yet and just happened upon #6. On my way back, I stopped in a Tunisian restaurant and had a sandwich. They seem to like tuna (in an earlier meal I had the Tunisian Shakshukah which also featured the fish). Yum.
Tuesday I was determined. I would find the rest of the story. Literally. I walked where I thought #2 and 3 should be back and forth a couple of times and when I couldn’t find it, I went all the way back to #1 to regroup. Somehow, as I retraced my steps I saw the 2nd mural.
I looked behind me and saw the plaque. It was far closer to #1 than the map indicated. I had my first clue. Don’t take the map TOO seriously. The murals and plaques are approximate insofar as the map goes. The only thing that helped was looking up for the mural’s artistic style and then finding a wall from a decent vantage point where the story would make sense to be placed.
I was on a roll. Part 3 was not easy to find but I knew to cross King George and look in places that were not precisely placed according to the map and there it was.
#4 didn’t come easy either but, again, I didn’t take the map too seriously, simply looked for upper floors of buildings with mural opportunities and there it was on the other side of Jaffa Street.
According the map #5 was RIGHT NEXT to #4 and so it was on the same building on the other side.
To be honest, finding the plaque with the 5th chapter to go along with the mural was the hardest. It was on the corner of an alley off of Yaffo which felt like cheating. After all, it’s not so easy to see the mural from that vantage point (as it should be). I didn’t actually find the plaque until after I had found ALL the other murals and plaques and gave into the temptation of a 15 Shekel Laffa Shwarma.
Again, you’ll remember, I found #6 my second day of looking. Mural 7 and it’s plaque were one of the easiest to find and very rewarding.
It’s a very sweet story about a couple of friends who like to travel together and choose exotic locations for him to fake-propose to her and get free meals. The difficulty in the story is that they can’t find the right place in Jerusalem for a fake proposal.
If you want to read it, I photographed all the murals and story plaques on Facebook:
Sweet story, no?
SAM SPIEGEL FILM AND TELEVISION SCHOOL
If you’ve been following these blogs, you’ll know I went to an invitation only end of year showing of 3rd year students’ films. All were between 8 and 15 minutes long and all were very impressive. If I could get even one for the film festival, I’d be happy.
I arranged to go visit the school this past week and met Michal Sinai who works there to be very helpful. Apparently the best of the films go to the top tier Film Festivals first including such places a Cannes and only then 2nd tier like Munich and beyond. Film Festivals like Louisville are not first tier, unfortunately (at least, not yet!). However, we may very well get access to some films from years prior which are not available on Netflix or YouTube and so will be just as high quality as the ones that are being featured in Vienna this coming year.
She gave me 2 sets of retrospectives from the past 25 years of the school’s existence. They are working on a third as we speak. Perhaps we will someday soon feature one of those films or a retrospective at the Speed in the same way that has been done at MOMA.
The school had a break room for the students in which there were prayers in Hebrew, printed as if they were from an actual prayer book and in the style of traditional prayer, written for directors, screen writers and those suffering from writer’s block.
Here’s one of the prayers from facebook: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154266440414522&set=pcb.10154266440509522&type=3&theater
On the way back from my visit I found a construction site with a barrier covered with paintings, available for sale, by autistic kids. I took a few shots — they were pretty amazing.
SHABBAT AND SPAIN!
We have a final shabbat here before we go off to Spain and Natania returns to the US to serve on Ramah’s second session as a counselor for the Tikvah program.
We will miss the auf ruf and wedding of Jackie Wolff and Michael Friedman in Louisville. I’m sure it will be a lovely ceremony and we look forward to seeing them when they visit Possibility city next.