A sojourn in Israel, post Oct. 7
OpinionGuest columnist

A sojourn in Israel, post Oct. 7

There’s a saying that in Israel there’s never a dull moment. Three days into our trip we can attest to that truth.

Lou Weiss
Just before sunrise in Tel Aviv (photo by joiseyshowaa, courtesy of flickr.com)
Just before sunrise in Tel Aviv (photo by joiseyshowaa, courtesy of flickr.com)

Twenty years ago I took a class from Rabbi Danny Schiff on how to run a seder. He offered such tips as editing the Haggadah liberally and liberally noshing before the actual meal to maintain order.

His advice stood me in pretty good stead, and for many years I ran what I consider, in all due modesty, a pretty good seder.

Last year Rabbi Schiff and his family joined the 35 people at our seder and, unlike the failed Iranian drones, I actually bombed. As always, the food my wife Amy prepared was great, but I failed to “read the room.”

This year Amy thought that we would take a break from our sedering and attend one in Jerusalem run by Todd Warnick, a former Emma Kaufmann Camp unit head who went on to become Israel’s most famous basketball referee. Pesach lunch will be at the home of ex-Pittsburgher and matchmaker extraordinaire Tova Weinberg and her husband, Joel.

There’s a saying that in Israel there’s never a dull moment. Three days into our trip we can attest to that truth.

So far, we’ve been to an art opening where most of the attendees were as interested in the marijuana as the works on display. We watched a cable TV reporter talk about the empty streets in Tel Aviv before strolling down Rothschild Boulevard with thousands of Israelis walking their dogs and eating at cafés. We walked into a restaurant at 10:30 p.m., but they turned us away because they were jammed with reservations.

Out hotel pool was occupied by some kvetching kids. They became less annoying when we realized that they were part of the contingency of Israeli internal refugees unable to return to their border-adjacent homes. They won the lottery in terms of hotels, but I could see in their mothers’ faces that they would trade this beauty for home in a second.

We spent lunchtime before Shabbat in the Carmel market. We could barely walk through, there were so many people amid the kaleidoscope of produce and plastic products.

We sat at a café and caught up with old friends who we met decades ago on a trip to Italy. We met Ofer and Maya when they were just out of the IDF and now their sons are serving in the reserves. Their oldest, who looks like his mom, is a paratrooper recently serving on the northern border. He lost seven friends in the Nova rave massacre and recently lost his 28-year-old commander. The younger son, who resembles his dad, is in the Nahal Brigade and after a Shabbat leave was headed back to Gaza.

We visited the charming rooftop aerie of Rolando and Anne-Michele, he from Panama and she from Algeria. Rolando graduated from Carnegie Tech and was Bibi Netanyahu’s first boss in his family’s furniture business. We reminisced for a moment about Weinstein’s delicatessen, but they were concerned about what was happening in the U.S., particularly with the Jewish community. I didn’t have good answers.

Amy spent this afternoon at the Jaffa flea market. She found a couple of great dresses, but the place was pretty empty. Tonight, we will hear our daughter’s Michigan pals sing a cappella Yiddish jazz in their living room. At 79 shekels per ticket, it will be an evening well spent.

Oh, and last night Israel was attacked by 300 Iranian bomber drones, ballistic and cruise missiles. In a sentence that a Jew of the last 2,000 years couldn’t even dream of writing — the Israeli Air Force shot them down.

I have to finish now because rather than watching from Pittsburgh while Rabbi Schiff teaches a class by Zoom from Israel, I’ll be watching from the courtyard of the beautiful Jaffa Hotel in Israel as he teaches from Pittsburgh.

His topic? How to lead a post Oct 7 seder. PJC

Lou Weiss is a carpet salesman in Pittsburgh.

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