Thursday, April 30, 2009

Special Prayer Session

One of the most contested things about Israeli Independence day among various religious sects is whether to say hallel and if so, with a bracha or without. Before moving to Israel, I had never celebrated Israeli Independence Day (though as I'm writing this, I seem to recall a BBQ at my parents house once). After I got here I joined a religious zionist community and started celebrating the independence. I have been going to special prayers every year since I got here, though I still haven't said hallel with a bracha. It's a lot more then just hallel, they add in a whole bunch of stuff including blowing the shofar at night and reading a haftorah (without a bracha) during the day.

This year after the bris, we had thought we were going to hang out with my aunt and uncle who are here (for the first time) on a mission. We couldn't get ahold of them right away so we decided to go to the kotel for a little bit. They called as we were driving to their hotel and told us that the group was doing something that evening, so they wouldn't be able to get together with us until the next day for the family BBQ. We realized after we hung up that their hotel was across the street from the parking lot, so we stopped in the hotel anyways and visited for a bit. We continued on our way to the wall and the kids were all complaining that they were starving hungry (apparantly they forgot you are supposed to eat at a bris) so we stopped for pizza (70 shekel a pie in the old city, איזה מכה.

We then realized that we would be right on time for special prayers at the wall, so we hurried on down. They were just finishing up the speeches and we watched as they raised the flag to full mast and put out the big memorial flame that had been burning next to the Wall throughout Memorial Day. We then proceeded to do special prayers. Special Prayers (which includes the normal evening service) was very, very long. The first part was read repetitively half of a pasuk by the chazzan and the other half by the people, sometime. They were chanting sefardically as well (though nobody slaughtered a goat) and tried to throw in the tune of Hatikva as many times as they could during the reading/chanting. Hallel took way too long. Did you know that you could do the entire hatikva tune for each הודו לה' כי טוב. I hadn't know it was possible.

We decided to leave immediately afterwards and did not stay for the dancing.

We got to my brother's in Modiin (where we were staying) around 11:00 PM and then we started the grill up. My brother made a rub for the grilled chicken that was a bit strong, it was based on spicy paprika. It was a good way to end the evening.

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