Our first Shabbat on this trip has come to a close, we have finished the oneg (post shabbat dinner) and are relaxing. The Barking Fox and I are blogging, Silas has been drumming, Dorothy, Katie and Jeremiah are dancing while several conversations are going on between others in our group.
Last night was most interesting as we settled in for a wonderful dinner. My hope was that after dinner we could dance and worship, but what we got was so much better!!
Dinner was wrapping up when our host, Tzemach, and his girlfriend, Olga, dropped in. Immediately we seated them at the table with us, poured each a glass of wine and began to fellowship. The conversation turned to dancing and before you could snap off, ‘Shabbat shalom,’ we were pulling tables back and opening up a big dance floor. Fun!!
Initially, we danced one, then Tzemach excitedly exclaimed, ‘I must get my friend! He is a dance instructor. Very good!’ And, he ran out the door.
What we didn’t realize until introductions a few short minutes later, the tall stately 40-something gentleman he spoke of ‘happened’ to be a house guest downstairs. As we got to know he and his family, we discovered they were in for the night from two hours north of Jerusalem!! What a blessing!
He proceeded to teach us several Jewish folk dances with steps amazingly similar to Davidic dance, though movements and hand holding a bit foreign to us westerners more used to larger personal space. The conversation and interaction through broken English and the common language of dance led to a wonderful time of joyful laughter and engagement with our new found friends.
None of them are observant, though have some strict traditional practices. The most poignant question from our instructor was, ‘It is a big world. Why you want to learn Jewish folk dance?’ They were openly curious about this strange band wearing tzitziot, observing Shabbat, stopping to sing the Shema at the hour of prayer, etc. Honestly, we, just being ourselves, drew stunned looks and incredulous questions mixed with joy that we could converse and love each other as odd equals. How blessed we were to simply spend time with our brothers.
We finished with a couple Davidic worship dances that elicited longing stares, the last being Joshua Aaron’s Gadol Elohai. After our guests departed, we continued to dance for a while, though we kept the music turned down out of respect for the neighbors.
What a wonderful evening!
Before we went to bed, we were invited to ‘go for a walk at 6:45.’ I guess I misunderstood the request and six of us were up and ready to walk at 6:45 only we could not find anyone where I thought we were to meet in the village center. The end result is that the six of us walked around the neighborhood and at one point, found the synagogue as many men and a few women gathered for prayer. We were very much under dressed, but intimated that we would like to go. That request was gently avoided, so we chose to walk the neighborhood in the cool air, talking quietly and greeting those who passed on their way to synagogue.
Upon returning to our house, much of the rest of the day was spend in individual Bible study, naps, snacking and conversation.
Late afternoon, again, another group of us set out to walk the neighborhood. With each passing trip we are seeing more people, hearing more greetings and exchanging more smiles. I look forward to each Divine appointment the Father has for us as we spend time here in Gibeah simply being who we are, B’ney Yosef.