Levi’s food love update:
Tomatoes, plums, tea biscuits, watermelon, Chummus, and challah!
And, a more detailed breakdown of the week:
Memorial day weekend in US means that we get to take a long weekend while everyone else here leads a normal work day! As I have mentioned before too is that Sunday is the “Monday” of Israel so we like to do family day on sundays so we can take advantage of wherever we go being empty– so, we hopped into a 15 minute taxi and went to the Jerusalem Biblical zoo. I am not an animal lover (at all) (sorry to my animal loving people), but it was a completely different and loving experience getting to be there with Levi. I watched his curious mind explore animals, and we made sure to spend a little bit of time by each section teaching him about all the different environments that each species need — pretty cool actually.
Note: giraffe pants
I do have to say, though, that the best part of the zoo were the views! It is located on top of a cliff and each step overlooks the Jerusalem hills, lots of trees, and houses from afar. it has that “classic” Jerusalem feel that you see in the movies:: here is my yoga time:
After we hiked throguh the zoo (walked around 4 miles just there!) we went to the Malcha mall and treated oursevles to kosher Mcdonalds!! Glatt kosher! We also got some takeout chinese food because Y NOT.
Whenever we pass the bakery Levi kicks his legs and wild and gets excited because he knows borekas and danishes are nearby. Funnily enough, he was not in the McD’s, not even the french fries!!, so dada got up and went to get him some pastries. He munched on that while we devoured our happy meals.
In NYC life I made it a habit to take Levi on a walk to the park to ride the swings in John Jay park, or to do yoga with me while he sits in his stroller or I hold him. While we did this almost everyday for the first few months of his life, then it turned cold and going on morning walks just to get out for 20 minutes wasn’t “worth the bundle”. But here we are in the prettiest town I have ever been with a park across a quiet street. So in the morning, Levi has his bottle and usual boreka w/fruit for brekki, and then we head to the park for his morning “greens”.
He plays in the grass, crawls around, and goes in the swing yelling and pointing at the “adult” swing next to him knowing that I will be by his side. I love this time because the majority of the city is at work and the park is empty. Because he spent so much time in his stroller yesterday I want him to get a lot of free time and to be on his schedule. He wakes up at 7am, and takes nap1 at 10-11:30am. When he wakes up we walk to get coffee, do some light errands and exploring, play in the park more, until his 3pm nap. It’s memorial day so Josh has a light workload for the day and we get to have family time. We sit outside by Ben Yehuda for a Schwarma dinner, and do a little supermarket run to stock up after eating everything over Shabbat.
We go to a mommy and me music class at the OU center – he loves it! The teacher sings mostly in english, not what i was expecting, and there is a big range of “mom types” in there so I feel very comfortable. Lots of youngish looking moms — some in sleeveless, some in hair coverings– and I find that i fall somewhere in the middle in my skirt, short sleeves, and openly frizzy and natural hair. The time goes by quick so I stayed a little after for Levi to play with some of the other kids, reading books, and soaking up the environment. I cant stop “soaking up the environment” here! I have fallen in love with a place. It has made me fall in love with my boys all over again, everyday. When I leave the music class I find myself smiling as I walk home. This is a different feeling than ever — I want to keep walking, and keep talking to Levi about the blue sky and green desert looking plants that are all around us. It has been a couple of weeks but I still can’t believe we are here. Josh is back to work so after Levis’ afternoon nap I take him out to a random side street I found somewhere near the shuk and Nachlaot. We find a restaurant/bar and sit and people watch while munching on veggies and some wine. I put my phone in my bag and talk to Levi, read him books, and pointing out the sky and all the people around us. I Love seeing all the different types of jews walk up and down the street- and as soon as I think Levi needs to “Get moving” I join the evening crowd in walking through the streets. I love that we have started to feel more like locals everyday. My hebrew is OK– could be better, but there are some people that have told me they are impressed with how i speak it without even living there. I guess it really is all about perspective……
Levi wakes up early, closer to 7am, and we see the weather is getting really hot so decide to take an early morning stroll to the kotel. (again, ThankGd always on the same page about that!) We stop and I find a hub to do yoga while Josh gives Levi some snacks — a yogurt, and of course a cheese boreka. We make it to the kotel and this time I take Levi on my side with me so he joins me in prayer. My prayer turns to meditation as I have that same inner smile just by solely being HERE. i love it HERE, at the kotel, looking at the wall which stands for history and what the Jewish people have been through.
Josh tells me about his conversation with an older Israeli that explained to him that when he first came to Israel in the 50’s, most of the area was occupied by Arabs and you really had to be careful where to walk. It is amazing how accessible so much of Jerusalem has become for Jewish people. (bly eyen hara, without an evil eye!) I can’t stop saying this today but I love walking these streets!! Of course Levi is here to teach us the lesson of them all, though — and that is that in Jerusalem all you really need are your toes, and a boreka::
On our way back from the kotel we all get a freshly squeezed OJ, our family favorite. After Levi finishes his entire juice i feel a sense of “Every little thing is gonna be alright” because his little body now has vitamin C and natural water and sugar from the fruits of the land! Around early afternoon it got really hot outside **heat with love**, so we snuck into the King david and went into the pool!!! It was soo refreshing. I brought wine in a water bottle, ;)…
The rest of day is filled with playtime in the apartment and the park, and homemade Ravioli — our first use of the stove since we arrived!!
Thursday JUNE 7TH:
Drumroll please…. happy 3rd anniversary to us!! We paid some shekel to stay at the Hotel Yehuda and use their pool/lunch all day. If you know me, you know that I love to take advantage of stuff – we waited for after he got a good morning nap (thankfully he did thanks to our morning sprints around the park!)– and were able to be at the pool from 12-6pm!! We treated ourselves to pasta, salads, and pizza – and even got free french fries from this guy sitting next to us, we leanred he was getting married the next day (probably the reason he didn’t want the fries) – also pretty cool that we spoke to someone that will share a wedding anni with us, and his last name was Levi! Gotta love when Hashem sends random and cool connections. I have always been one to seek for “connections” in my life, and I have been feeling extremely grateful that lately especially during my time in Israel i truly feel the presence of G-d. I almost did not want to type that because I never want to loes that feeling – but then again, maybe by typing it I will hold on to it forever…
Anyways – we spend the day at the hotel, brought a blow up pool raft for babies and spent the day between the pool and the kids area where Levi was able to be free!
I have been finding that each day he needs more and more “free” time, yet he is such a good boy during stroller days!! Because he is so good in stroller days it makes me want to make sure there is not too much of that time and in the past few days I aim to make a lot of the day active rather than sitting in cafes feeding him bread so i can “relax”… as I was doing a lot more in the beginning of the trip.
Friday, June 8th:
Levi got to hang with his little Balsam girl cousins – Rotem, David, and their daughters came to Jerusalem for the day. We played at our apartment, hit the park, and had brunch by the shuk. When they left we stocked up for Shabbat – agreeing to a light Shabbat dinner and a heavy dairy lunch! Thankfully Joshua and I are on the same page always for food, too! We are blown away by the fresh kosher cheese here in Jerusalem and just can’t get enough. In NY I try to stay away from cheese because it is directly connected to a pimple appearing. The first few weeks (i didnt want to even say it) but I was eating endless cheese and my skin seemed fine, but this week 3 red pimples appeared on my face.. no bueno! Going to work on drinking more water and not overdoing the cheese.
One of the best parts of being in Jerusalem, which I am confident I am not the only person to say this, is the feeling the city gets on Friday afternoon AKA Erev Shabbat.
The streets go from parents busy shopping, chasing their kids in the park, talking loudly on the phone, being honked at by busses because everyone is rushing to cross the street to the most serene sounds of birds whistling because all else becomes silent. You can practically smell the peace. I never thought” peace” would be something you can smell, but in Jerusalem it is. You smell the flowers and the grass, and the quiet that has become by 6pm is the scent of pure magic.
Really though! magic!
I find that we take full advantage of the fact that Levi is still “little Levi” because when he is a little big bigger we will need to create more structure around Shabbos, keeping it consistent, with heartier and better planned out meals. But for now we can do WHATEVER WE WANT! I sometimes try to manipulate and plan Levi’s naps, and I get pleasently suprised when he seems to go with it. Or maybe it is that pure magic that Erev Shabbat has, where Levi has been napping from 4-6pm, so that when he wakes at 6 we walk to the kotel. I get dressed in all white – a new tradition I want to take everywhere with me — and push the stroller along with the thousands of other Jews through the streets. All of a sudden the silence turns into men walking to Shul and houses radiating good smelling food. We are in an area with lots of students and “young people”, so we see a ton of religious “youngsters” holding bags and heading to their friends houses. It feels like the entire city just got zapped into another mindset, a completely different zone. No buses are running and there are hardly any cars on the street. People are now walking slowly, a vast change from Friday AM, headed to either the Kotel or their family/friends for Shabbat. Our walk to the western wall includes walking by all the nice hotels, so we get to watch all the internationals all dressed up in heels and suits to have dinner at the King David or David Citadel. I love wearing my head scarf on Shabbat because it makes the holiness begin even before I light the candles. I will probably elaborate on the (insert: synonym for magical) feeling I get while lighting the Shabbat candles here in Jerusalem.
The peaceful sounds of the stroller bumping up and down in the old city leads us to a jam packed sunset time at the Kotel. We are here at the same time of all the birthright groups, so the entire old city is overwhelmed with large groups singing and dancing, socializng and praying, all to bring in the Shabbat. I am in love! again! with the feeling of being with J+L as Joshua once again shleps the stroller down the stairs so we could get there. and alas! we made it to the Kotel just in time to be a part. With Levi on the edge of his stroller I see enchantment in his eyes!!
And here i am left with no words that can describe how I feel when I seperate from my husband (for 20 minutes, sharp) so we can pray in the men/women area, respectively, while being overwhelmed with Jews from around the world on the same mission, to touch the wall.
The first week I was nervous that Levi was overwhelmed by the amount of people, and the heat, but the power of Jerusalem is that it always seems to fit all of these people without feeling squishy. Also once the sun goes down there is a cool breeze – even on days that the temperature is in the high 80s! I even thought of my mom that would have been unhappy i didnt have a “light sweater” for Levi, so I will be sure to bring one next time. Probably for myself too ;).
It is in the moment of emotion that I understand Shlomo Carlebach when he said “On Shabbat something happens to the world – the world becomes infinite again”.