March 6, 2020
Many homes in Israel are equipped with motorized roller shades on their windows, mostly because the heat of the sun is unbearably hot throughout most of the year; however, in some cases, they could potentially provide some protection from rocket attacks. In our case with the apartment, it also provides shelter from the crazy high winds we get on the 12th floor. Either way, these shades create complete and utter darkness in whatever room they’re installed, which would explain why we didn’t wake up until after 9:00AM. What finally woke us up were our upstairs neighbors who we have lovingly nicknamed “the chair people.” At all hours of the day and night, regardless of what room we’re in, all we hear are chairs being dragged across tiles. If not for them this morning, we wouldn’t have gotten up at all.
The worst thing one can do while staying in Jerusalem is to wake up late on a Friday when you didn’t go shopping for Shabbat on Thursday. To make matters worse, it’s pouring rain…and hailing Biblical proportions. What’s next, locusts?! Naturally, motivating ourselves to even get out of the house to shop at Machane Yehuda for our Shabbat food wasn’t working out so well. Sure, we had a fully stocked fridge and pantry, but for us it’s tradition to shop for Shabbat at the local shuk. Besides, we hadn’t gotten our Levy Brothers Falafel yet – the best falafel in Israel! And we would arrive just in time for a late lunch.
Getting back to that unbearably hot sun – I have been told to never pack a raincoat because it is sunny with a 0% chance of rain at least nine months out of the year. On six of my trips to Israel, I did not pack a raincoat, but this time I did. Remember that conversation with the taxi driver two days ago? The rain this past winter in Israel was insane. Not only did it fill the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the only potable water source in the country, it overflowed and water had to be diverted to the Jordan River through the Dganya Dam. Knowing this ahead of time, there was no way I wasn’t packing my raincoat.
Opting to take a taxi, we made our way to Machane Yehuda, me donned in my full-length raincoat visiting Israel for its first time ever. First stop, on the kid’s insistence, Hummus Arbase (Chick Pea) on Shilo Street across from the shuk. According to the kid, it is the best hummus in Jerusalem. Believing in my daughter’s taste in hummus, we ordered a large container with sautéed mushrooms. Not only was it the best hummus I’ve ever had, I went back the following week to tell the owners that it was the best hummus I’d ever had after being told it was the best hummus in Jerusalem, the old man next to me declaring, “It’s the best in Israel!” And it is.
Second stop, Levy Brothers Falafel, the best falafel in Israel. For several months I’ve been learning Hebrew online, most of my ability being the ordering of food. Not only did I order for me and the hubby in “perfect” Hebrew with my “perfect” Israeli accent, the falafel guy was truly impressed and understood every word I said. I was proud of myself, despite major eye rolling from the kid cuing me to stop trying. Shoveling down our falafel in the pouring rain while standing under a tiny awning of the restaurant next door, we were amazed by how many other people had not shopped for Shabbat and were willing to be out in this weather. Within minutes we were walking up and down the streets in search of Shabbat food while fending off vendors who insisted we needed whatever they were selling. Not only did we need to get out of this rain, the clock was ticking louder and louder, reminding us that we also needed to cook the food we were buying. Opting, once again, to take a taxi back to the apartment, the frantic cooking began.
The issue surrounding my hysteria was thanks to the kid deciding she was now a vegetarian. Being able to slap together two complete meals as carnivores is a piece of cake, but coming up with vegetarian ideas requires at least a day’s notice for me. Thankfully, she decided to help cook…an hour before candle lighting. As we cooked, we listened to the news about the new cases of COVID 19 cases cropping up throughout the world. So far, so good in Israel – no cases whatsoever.
I joked that Purim would be cancelled, which it can’t because it’s on the calendar regardless of corona, right? Then we started to hear that Purim events would most likely be cancelled. What?! It’s the only reason we came here! Well, that and the kid’s birthday. And now they’re talking about closing the borders?! Will we be able to get home in two weeks?! The hubby reassured me that “this will all blow over by then.” On the other hand, I guess being stuck in Israel indefinitely wouldn’t be such a horrible thing – the apartment was available thanks to the next tenant’s inability to occupy upon our departure. And now schools in America are starting to close…
I still feel like I’m missing something…
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’,
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world…
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan