Just got back from the most exciting tie basketball game ever. We all got free tickets to watch an exhibition game between Ashkelon and Jerusalem. Quite an experience. I guess since it was just an exhibition they didn’t bother with overtime, which was kind of strange to see. Ashkelon blew a 3 point lead with 5 seconds to go because they couldn’t figure out that they were supposed to foul Jerusalem immediately after the in-bounds pass. Naturally the Jerusalem player hit a wide open 3 to tie the game. There were probably 200 people in attendance, including 38 from our group and a whole bunch of rowdy 10 year olds, where they’re parents were, we have no idea. There was also a guy who beat a huge drum throughout the game and changed his beat depending on who has the ball.
I spent Rosh Hashana at my cousin Datia Shaked’s house just outside of Jerusalem (we’re still trying to figure out how we’re exactly related but it does go back a couple of generations). I hadn’t seen her or Michal or Guy (her two children who are now 30 and 29) in close to 4 years so it was great to re-connect. I feel very fortunate to have so much family in Israel that is so friendly and welcoming. Some of these cousins I’ve met before and some I’m just now meeting for the first time. But everyone I’ve met has told me the same thing: let me know when you want to come over for Shabbat and you can come and spend the weekend. I’m hoping that after we get back from Sukkot vacation I can get to Jerusalem a couple of weekends a month so I can spend time and get to know all these cousins and visit the ones I know well.
In addition to these other relatives, I have two first cousins who are in Israel. Chaim is studying at a yeshiva and his sister Rivka just made Aliyah. So a fun little aside. I was about to leave Datia’s to head back to Ashkelon, when Chaim called me and told me he was going to be in downtown J’lem watching the Patriots/Jets game if I was around. So I switched up my plans and met up with him for a bit and watched about 3 quarters before I had to get to the bus station to head back (he called me while I was on the bus back to tell me the game had gone final and the Jets had won)
The day before Rosh Hashana I got to do something very special. I was one of 15 people from Otzma to help deliver packages of food to Holocaust survivors living in Ashkelon. We were split into groups of 3, and each group was paired with 3 Israeli soldiers to deliver the food. I went to 5 houses of Holocaust survivors and it was incredible to see how much joy and happiness it brought to them. One woman happened to be celebrating her 90th birthday that day, and another was so overcome with emotions she started to tear up. It’s unbelievable how doing something that seems so small can mean so much to someone.
That's it for now - we finally have internet in our rooms so hopefully I'll post more frequently and I'll get pics up in the next day or two.