As I write this, sitting on my mirpeset and overlooking the courtyard behind my apartment building, I can see my neighbors in the next building over, who have moved their Pesach cleaning outside - there seems to be an entire stove out there, being cleaned. Stores and restaurants all around Jerusalem have signs announcing whether or not they will be open during Pesach and I saw a poster last night informing me when I could take my kitchen utensils and pots to be immersed in boiling water to kasher them for Pesach - right in my neighborhood! In addition to the holiday preparations that are everywhere in Jerusalem this week, the trees are blooming, flowers are budding, and the entire city smells like a flower shop (also known as hell for those of us with seasonal allergies).
I spent last week on a Pardes tiyul to the Golan Heights, in the north of Israel. I'd been to the Golan before, but mostly for tourism and learning about the history of the area, rather than hiking. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Wildflowers were blooming, everything was GREEN (rare for this region of the world), and it was so fully and entirely spring. On the first two days of the tiyul, we hiked to waterfalls with deep pools - and I was even brave enough to jump into the freezing cold water on day 2. Hiking in Israel reminds me that no matter what, despite all the challenges of living in this country, all of the heavy, complicated stuff that I write about and think about, I love this land. I am so happy to be living here this year, to have the opportunity to stay for another year.
At Shabbat services on Friday night, at Nava Tehila, a Renewal community in Jerusalem, we sang parts of Song of Songs, traditionally read/sung around this time of year, usually at the Shabbat during Pesach:
כי הנה הסתיו עבר הגשם חלף הלך לו. הניצנים נראו בארץ עת הזמיר הגיע
For lo, the winter has passed, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on earth, the time of singing has come. (Song of Songs 2:11-12)
Singing these verses at Kabbalat Shabbat felt like such an apt description of the past week. I love that in Israel, the liturgical cycle reflects the natural rhythm of the world, rather than feeling totally incongruous.
Yesterday, I went to the doctor to get my medical forms for HUC filled out. Only in Israel would the doctor be more confused as to why I needed a physical to go to rabbinical school than with the entire concept of rabbinical school in the first place. On his shelf, next to the usual medical books, were books like "Medical Ethics and Halacha." Another one of those "only in Israel" moments...