Monday, June 14, 2010

Shabbat Dinner in Tzfat

After mincha/dancing Carlebachish Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv at the Ascent Institute, we got sent to the houses of local Chabad families for dinner; they made sure to segregate us by gender for this, though I'm not entirely sure why; I've never heard of a mechitza being required at the dinner table and certainly the wife in the family was sitting with everyone else at the table.

Ariel and Chana, both BT Chabad from the United States, hosted us. Chana was even mekareved by the Chabad Rabbi in Princeton; I learned this after she asked me "Where in Princeton?" when I said I was from there; rarely do I get asked that, as Princeton (or the Princetons, as it were) just isn't that big. Ariel (my guess is no more than 12 years into BT given how old he looked) is now the Rosh Yeshiva of a yeshiva in Tzfat serving other BTs.

When we reached their apartment, the two oldest kids, 5 and 4, were still awake. After one of them started misbehaving, saying he would turn on the lights, I made a wisecrack; "Oy vey, he's already going off the derech." Unsurprisingly, it did not go over too well.

In addition to three of us doing the Ascent seminar, there were also 4 yeshiva students there for dinner as well. Three of them were not particularly eccentric or noteworthy, but one, Shimon, was. He had spent a lot of time doing all the eastern religion stuff that apparently is not so uncommon for Jews who end up in Tzfat. He'd also been into the raw foods movement, and was an organic farmer in Maui, New Mexico, and elsewhere. He also wasn't dressed like a Chabad BT. For one, he had payos, and for another, he had techelet on his tzitzit. He also spent some of the dinner blabbering about this new electric coil that would give us free energy, after he heard I was (technically, at least) an engineer. He also mentioned how he thought the CIA did 9/11. I then brought up the various Jewish/Israel-related 9/11 conspiracies, particularly the "Jew call" to explain why he was being stupid. That also didn't go over so well.

Nevertheless, despite Ariel's dvar torah going into "animalkeit" vs. "yiddishkeit," and despite his going on and on and on about the "Holy Tanya" (Rabbi Yudi maybe mentioned the Tanya and the Alter Rebbe once, if that, in like 20 pizza/parshas I went to), and despite the major delay in the BTs figuring out which Kiddush to recite (it apparently being a Chabad custom for each person to do an individual Kiddush), I enjoyed it.