The Road To Jerusalem
Wednesday night after a kosher shakshukah run with our Birthright participants we headed to the airport to send back our group. I said my goodbyes to my Israeli guide, co-staff, medic and the rest of the participants on the bus. As soon, as I began walking downstairs to jump on the train I suddenly felt my energy start to deplete. I bumped into the logistical coordinator for Birthright Israel and after our conversation I slowly walked over to the ticket booth. I missed the train by five minutes and chose to wait for the next train, rather than taking a taxi which would have cost me over 145 more sheckles. Here I was sitting on a bench waiting for the train to arrive, with my large hiking back pack, large suitcase and guitar. Not a person was in sight, so I thought it would be a great idea to pull out my guitar and sing a few songs. As soon as I began to sing I felt a shift in the energy of this environment. I can’t explain exactly how I felt at this time. All I know if that I felt like I was being elevated by some mystical force. I closed my eyes and sang, “Rishon Rishon.” At the conclusion of this song I opened my eyes and to my suprise I was surrounded by a diverse group of travelers who were dancing. One of the men was recording me on facetime on his iphone and was broadcasting my song to his israeli girlfriend, named “Eli.” Wow. Eli is one of my favorite names for the divine. I connected very well with this young man who was broadcasting me. When the train arrived he helped me load my belongings. He shared that he is a professional hand ball player for the Israeli team and travels all over the world playing this sport. Little did I know I was hanging out with an athletic celebrity. He invited me to come stay with him in Haifa, and that he would come see me play when I perform in Zichrona. Tom was his name. Tom was a mensh.
I arrived in downtown Tel Aviv by train in about 20 minutes. I walked over to central station where I boarded a sheirut and commuted to my friend Nikki’s house. I arrived with a wave of exhaustion. She gave me sheets, a towel, a heads up for what to do the next day. I hit the pillow like a rock.
I had a dream that night that I was lying down on train tracks, and did not have the ability to move. The train was coming, honking the horn, I was yelling and screaming for help. The lights approached at warp speed, and I made impact. BOOM!
I woke up with a cold sweat. Modeh ani lefanechah…. melach chai v’kayam.. something didn’t feel right. I felt like I was actually hit by the dreamworld train. During the past 10 days as staff for Birthright, did I actually ever get sleep? I thought I did. I know I did.. but did I? My body was aching. My palms were wet. I was felt the chills. I told myself I was healthy so the feelings I was being present too didn’t persist. I went for a walk, and then returned back to the apartment. I was feeling really exhausted. My stay with Nikki was coming to an end so I hopped in a taxi and headed to Gal’s house. We jumped on his motorcycle and headed to the bar for happy hour. Here we met Nikki, and we had a few beers and pizza. I headed back to Gal’s with basically no energy. I admitted to the universe that I was sick and BOOOM. The fever kicked in. My language manifested my sickness. It was finally time to be sick. I needed to let my cells restore. I am in a new land and my body and mind is ready for my next transformation, so I let it be. I passed out. My dreams were scattered and I entered the dreamworld subway.
I woke up feeling like the sickness was going through me. The muckus was green. the fever was gone. So I headed to a cafe and had one of my final Tel Aviv’s breakfasts for a long time.
As I was sitting at this cafe contemplating my stay in Tel Aviv this sudden feeling came upon me. It was 12pm on Friday and Shabbos was coming. You could call it the “Shabbos Bug,” and yes I definitely had it. I traveled across the United States, got complete with my entire past so I could ‘live,” in Jerusalem. I didn’t want to waste my first free shabbos at a bar. So I bolted back to the apartment to pack my bags and headed for Jerusalem. I met Nikki to pick up my jacket that I left at her house. She asked me how I wanted to travel to Jerusalem, and I told her a semi-private van similar to a shuttlevan….. In Israel they are called “Shereuits.” She directed me to where I should wait on the corner for a sheruit to Jerusalem and every single one drove by without stopping. After waiting for 20 minutes, I realized that I should catch a cab if I wanted to get to Jerusalem before my housiing closes its doors for shabbos. I hopped into a cab and the it drove me to the bus station. I took a bus from tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and whoah was it easy and cheap. I know our western media says that buses are not safe in Israel. Forget what they tell you. I felt very secure, and the best part was it only took me 40 minutes for the entire trip.
I arrived in Jerusalem at 3:15 and I only had 45 minutes until the dorm doors closed. I walked from the bus station all the way to the shuk. I imagined that I would be bumping into this jewish rapper/singer that I jammed with the shabbat before. As soon as I reached the shuk I reached into my phone to look up the address for the dormitory that I’ll be staying in. I walked right up to this chabadnik and asked him, “ Where is Yosef Chaim street?” This man said, “I am Yosef Chaim,” So i said, “No.. really where is Yosef Chaim Street?” This black hatted Jew said to me, “Really! I am Yosef Chaim.” He pulled out his wallet and what do you know? Indeed it was Yosef Chaim. As we connected the rapping jew showed up wearing a sign with the kabblistic spherot which is a diagram mapping out how the energy flows in Kabbalah. I pulled out my guitar and we did a freestyle song. A crowd of 20+ people surrounded us taking pictures and dancing. We were two strangers creating beautiful free style music about the divine. I looked at my watch and what do you know it was 3:50pm and Yosef asked if he could put tefilin on me. Even though I was running late I could not turn down the mitzvah of putting on tefilin. At 3:55pm I rushed through the alleyways searching for Yosef Chaim. I was in a old city looking maze, and completely helpless. All of a sudden I heard, “Mikey.. Mikey.. is that you?” I turned around and a man wearing a thick coat, beanie yarmukle, and holding a bag of fresh challah and wine waived over at me. His name is Aryeh, and he is the owner of the dormitory. He invited me into the house which holds 18 men who are either in study or professionals looking for temporary housing. This place looks like a hippie commune, which is similar to where I lived wit Liz at the love-hub in Silverlake.
Friday night I joined a few of the roommates at “Kol Rina”, which is a Shlomo Carlbach singing kabalat shabbat minyan. It reminded me of “Happy Minyan,” which takes place in Pico Robertson area in Los Angeles. The big difference here is that there was double the amount of people, multiple harmonies, and people praying directly from the heart center. This is why I came to Jerusalem. I came to learn from the mystics who pray with the heart. We sang with all the chuzpah we had. Following the minyan I joined a few of the roommates for a kiddush back at the pad, where we had a few glasses of wine, mixed nuts, challah and freshly made tehina. We walked ffrom our house all the way to the old city where we danced and sang with the Breslov Jews. These hassids were dancing jumping like rabbits in a pumpkin patch. If only my students could see this ruach. Maybe I can take them here for a field trip next year. Anywho, I enjoyed the 20 minute walk back to our dorn and passed out.
More to come soon. For now I must pass out. BTW if you live in Jerusalem I will be hosting a new songwriters night here in Nahloat. If you want to perform please send me a digital demo (songs, picture, bio) to email@example.com. Lilatov and enjoy that SuperBowl Game!!!