Yom HaAtzmaut in Jerusalem

My last post gave a recap of the first two holidays in the period of the Yamim in Israel: Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron. The holiday that concludes the 10-day period of the Yamim is Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel’s independence day. The first 8-days of the Yamim – from Yom HaShoah to Yom HaZikaron – are incredibly sad, and the sorrow associated with these days seems to accumulate into one national day of enormous grief on Yom HaZikaron. How abrupt, then, it seems when the sun sets on Yom HaZikaron and the transition to Yom HaAtzmaut is immediate. Mourning turns into celebration, and the streets are filled with parties, dancing, and huge inflatable hammers (an odd holiday tradition). In line with the rest of Yom HaZikaron, the transition from sadness to joy is marked with a tekes (ceremony). The tekes Noah and I attended was at the Tahana Rishona, and the ceremony was led by a group of reform rabbis, interspersing prayer with song, readings, and stories.

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The tekes ended after the sun had set (and, thus, the next day – Yom HaAtzmaut – had begun), and Noah and I hit the streets with a few friends:

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I wasn’t kidding about everyone being on the streets to celebrate! I thought Purim was a big party, but that was seriously nothing compared to Yom HaAtzmaut.

Near Ben Yehuda street, we stumbled upon a huge rave of sorts with a ton of people smushed together dancing to a DJ:

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Also, the streets were full of small pop-up shops selling holiday paraphernalia and, of course, inflatable hammers!

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Noah and I bought an Israeli flag cowboy hat:

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Most of the people in the streets were wearing some sort of Israel swag and/or carrying flags, and it was fun to see some of the more clever outfits…are you rooting for this team yet? 🙂 :

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After spending a while in the Ben Yehuda area, we made our way to Safra Square where there was another large crowd of people (basically everywhere was just one continuous large crowd with some even larger crowds collected in some areas…) :

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Safra Square had a line-up of several bands playing all night, and people were collected there from about 9pm-3am dancing and listening to music.

At midnight, there was a fireworks show that we watched from Gan HaAtzmaut (Independence Park):

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Noah and I were back home a little before 2am – which would be considered early by most! This is definitely a night for celebration!

When we woke up in the morning for Yom HaAtzmaut day, we had plans to celebrate the holiday in typical Israeli fashion: with a BBQ. We have a friend from college who is from Israel, and some of his extended family lives on a moshav about an hour from Jerusalem. They host an annual Yom HaAtzmaut BBQ, and our friend invited us. There was no messing around at this BBQ – there was freshly cooked and deliciously seasoned meat as well as a large selection of salads and sides:

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It was quite the feast!

One small anecdote that I think highlights the cultural pervasiveness and celebration connected with this holiday: in the days leading up to Yom HaAtzmaut, during the Yamim and even a bit before, Israeli flags started appearing everywhere – literally, everywhere. Buildings had flags from their balconies, windows, and along their sides:

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And many of the cars on the roads had flags attached to their windows:

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I even saw some cars with Israeli flag covers attached to the back of their side mirrors!

In some ways, it was odd how quickly and completely the transition from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut happened, and some people have told me that for families who have lost someone close/recently, it can be very psychologically difficult to feel that they need to make the transition so abruptly. At the same time, it was incredible to see what this holiday means to Israelis and what the celebration looks like here. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good 4th of July parade and BBQ, but the atmosphere in America on 4th of July is nothing compared to the feeling of complete euphoria that fills the Israeli streets on Yom HaAtzmaut. Maybe it’s a being-a-new(ish)-country thing, maybe it’s a is-my-future-secure(?) thing, maybe it’s a people-die-for-this-country-all-the-time-so-we-might-as-well-celebrate thing…I’m not sure. But I can definitely say that this was one of my absolute favorite days in Israel this year and I hope I can be in this country for the holiday in the future.

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See my post on Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron here

 

Tahana Rishona

The Tahana Rishona (First Train Station) is a historical site that has now become a center for culture, music, and socializing in Jerusalem. Service on the train tracks that used the First Station ended in 1998, and after that it stood abandoned until renovation started to open it as a cultural center in 2013. Part of the initiative was also turning the train tracks into the rekevet pedestrian and bike trail. As planned, in 2013, the station – called The Tahana for short – reopened and has since become a great location for both Israelis and tourists to soak up Israeli culture, enjoy a good meal or drink, or even go to the ‘beach’ (there is a sandy area with a volleyball court and wave simulator!).

The Tahana features several full-service restaurants as well as places to get a drink, an ice cream shop, and a smoothie/juice joint. A couple weeks ago after Shabbat ended, I went with some friends to Fresh Kitchen for some coffee drinks and cookies.

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Fresh has a lovely outdoor seating area and a broad menu with lots of appealing dishes – so appealing, in fact, that I went back for a real meal last night.

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The Tahana also features a rotating schedule of events for people to enjoy fitness, music, and dancing. Every morning there is yoga, Friday mornings there is a running team, on Sunday and Wednesday nights there is dancing, Tuesday nights feature a live Jazz Trio, Thursday nights there is Zumba, and every Friday at 5:00pm there is a musical welcoming of Shabbat!

Last Friday, I went to the Tahana’s musical welcoming of Shabbat to see the prayer/music group, Nava Tehila. The group playing Shabbat music at the Tahana rotates each week, but I assume that – similar to how it was with Nava Tehila – it is generally a lively playing of Shabbat songs with lots of singing along and dancing from the audience. This past week, there was quite a crowd for the welcoming of Shabbat, and it was a lot of fun to see all the people and families there – happy to enjoy the music and excited for Shabbat!

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Beyond the music and events, the Tahana also features rotating art exhibits…

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…stores where you can by Jerusalem gifts, jewelry, and knick-knacks…

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…and, during the summer, a daily arts and crafts fair as well as a farmers’ market on Fridays:

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Overall, the Tahana is a great spot for pretty much any activity, and I’m definitely planning on visiting more of the restaurants and taking advantage of more of the cultural activities in the near future!

 

Soak up the sun

Minneapolis has had a gorgeous summer. There were a few sweltering days in July, but overall the weather has been extremely pleasant – warm enough to enjoy being outside, but not so warm to get that sticky feeling. Given the sunshine, enjoying outdoor activities has been a major highlight of the summer. A few events of note…

the Ordway’s summer dance series

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The Ordway Theater in St. Paul offers free music and dancing on Thursday nights during the summer at Rice Park (right in downtown St Paul). Different weeks have different themes: salsa, polka, swing, etc. We went on swing night. I should take some dance lessons to learn how I’m actually supposed to move my feet, but with a wine+music combination, I think I did alright. 🙂

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the patio at Vincent A Restaurant

Like 112, Vincent A was also listed in the recent edition of Mpls St Paul Magazine as having one of the best burgers in town.

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Vincent A is right in the heart of downtown at 11th and Nicollet, and it has great happy hour timing: 4:30-6pm and again from 8:30-9:30pm. A lot of late happy hours don’t even start until 9:30 at most of the places in Uptown. The 8:30 start time was perfect for a late dinner featuring….

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and since it was happy hour after all…

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These burgers were no doubt delicious, but I’m still more partial to 112.

Obviously.

Ready for PROM

Hi folks. This morning I was working on a NROLFW Stage 6 post (something I’ve been procrastinating for weeks) when my internet went out. What is the cause of this?! Still unknown. Strangely, this happens at my apartment occasionally. Generally my solution (after all of the obvious thing don’t work), is to go away and come back later. Then, it’s working! Magic? Perhaps. One of my roommates fixes it? Perhaps.

Anyway, I don’t have a NROLFW Stage 6 post due to this incident. Probably just the world trying to tell me that:

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But, really, we all know that’s not true. How did the caveman live without Google?! Speaking of, I was just listening to one of my favorite NPR shows, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, and their celebrity guest was Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt. He definitely made working at google sound really fun! At the Googleplex – as they call it – there are events and activities and fitness classes offered all day long, and the only three rules are that 1) you have to wear clothes, 2) you have to have fun, and 3) you can’t bring your boa constrictor to work.

The final rule was implemented after someone interpreted the ‘pets allowed’ policy to mean they could bring their boa constrictor. Naturally, the snake got loose and caused a little bit of a stir.

Still, I can’t complain…my job is amazing. Just last night in fact my job was to go to Sebastian Joe’s.

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I got a scoop of “the flavor formerly known as Nicollet Pot Hole.” (Why it is only formerly known…I’m not sure) Let me tell you – this is the flavor for chocolate lovers! It is chocolate with sea salt and caramel and truffles. So good. It was super rich though – I could hardly finish one small scoop!

I am so fortunate to have a job where my main responsible is to do fun things with high quality people and give them love. ❤

In other news, I am SO excited for the weekend. Why? BECAUSE I’M GOING TO PROM!

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No, I am not having an underage rendezvous this weekend. Rather, I will attending the most rockin late 90s/early 00s dance party at First Avenue presented by Radio K.

In the immortal words of Dane Cook, “screw guys, I just wanna dance.”