Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fasting In Safed

it is 4:40 p.m. in the holy city of safed.  we have been fasting since 7:30 p.m. last night.  I asked the gardener what he eats before the fast.  he told me that he just eats some sandwiches.  he also said that eating too much makes it harder to fast.  I haven't suffered on a fast in years since I stopped drinking coffee.  I used to get the most extreme caffeine withdrawals and headaches.

I haven't been drinking much tea lately, either.  I've had a pretty bad toothache.  I've been applying  arnica oil and rinsing with peroxide every 4 hours. I found that chewing raw ginger seemed to have a numbing effect on the gums.  since we are fasting, I didn't rinse with the peroxide this morning.  nor did I chew any ginger.

I have been watching holocaust memoirs and movies all day.  it is hard to stay in a sad mode.  we are mourning for the loss of our holy temples but it not so easy to relate to.  there was a large march last night by the 'women in green' movement  through the old city of Jerusalem.  there has been a lot of violence perpetrated against Jews recently.  two young policeman were killed and three members of a family were butchered by terrorists.

the incident happened on Shabbat night.  they were murdered at their Shabbat meal in their family's home.  I know that I write a lot about what I cook for Shabbat.  it is impossible to grasp the horror of what happened to this family who were celebrating the birth of a son, grandson and nephew.  the Jews are not allowed to pray on the temple mount.  it is under arab jurisdiction.  they consider it to be one of their most holy sites.  the two policemen, who were in their early twenty's, were murdered because the government had installed security equipment on the mount.  the arabs didn't much like that.

the two policemen and three members of the soloman family have been buried.  the surveillance equipment has been dismantled.  and we still don't have a holy temple.  that should be enough to keep us sad for a period of 24-25 hours while we fast.  somehow it doesn't.  we need to read the book of lamentations but yet it still isn't enough.  so we resort to watching holocaust movies.  if you google 'tisha b'av' you can get a list of the 10 best holocaust films.

on Holocaust memorial day there is no regular television broadcasting except for holocaust documentaries and movies.  even though it is a regular day in the country you cannot watch regular television.  on tisha b'av, the saddest day for the jews and a mandatory fast day, it is hard to find a holocaust show on cable television.  so, I sit and lie in the computer room watching the 1978 movie 'holocaust'.  it is hard to believe it was broadcasted 39 years ago.  there is a very young meryl streep playing a berlin gentile intermarried with a jew.

I think I actually watched this television series when it was first broadcasted so many years ago.  it seemed so shocking at the time.  when I first came to Israel in 1984 I was bored.  safed was a one horse town and the horse had just died.  there weren't many cars and only one movie theater.  there was no supermarket yet and they had built a maul but it was empty.  I started reading books.  and I started reading about the holocaust.  I can remember entering my mother's bedroom on several occasions while she sat crying, watching holocaust documentaries. 

I never could relate.  after all, the holocaust had happened so long ago.  I didn't know of any family members who had been murdered.  my parents were born in America and my grandparents had emigrated at the turn of the century.  I never knew that my great grandparents and several of their children had succumbed to the Nazis.  it probably wouldn't have mattered.  we were so sheltered and spoiled.   in 1984 I got familiar very familiar with the holocaust by reading many books.  I still like to read anything about the holocaust.  I finished the novel 'the nightingale' on sunday morning at around 4:00a.m.

I used to be able to read the book of lamentations all day long.  I cannot anymore.  I struggle to be happy.  I respect the day so I keep with the program except for the praying.  I might try a little bit in a while.  I have been lying down all day.  I finally feel okay to sit up.  three weeks ago I went to the hospital in tel aviv on a fast day. the fast started in the morning.  I had stopped eating at 8:30 p.m. the previous evening.  I went 24 hours without eating and I felt fine.  it was hot and yet I travelled 3 hours to the hospital and another 3 hours back.  I was mobile and pretty active.  I can't move today.

I am beginning to think about what I want to eat when the fast ends in a couple of hours from now.  the kids came over last night to eat before the fast.  I wasn't planning on cooking anything.  it is extremely hot outside and very humid.  there is no air.  I thought that the heat wave had broken on sunday but it started right back up again.  I got out and went to the supermarket.  I bought a bag of green lentils, shallots, cracked wheat, bow tie noodles and a few sweet potatoes and a few white ones.  I bought a small cream cheese and half of a watermelon.  I have never seen shallots in my 66 years on earth except on a cooking show.  surprise, they are tiny red oinions! oh well.

I had to go back out into the heat to pick up the grandkids from their summer camp.  I truly struggled to get home with the groceries. I first stopped off at the bakery to buy a few baguettes.  cooking was even harder to do.  the house was so hot.  there was no breeze.  the fans blew hot air.  I made a lentil  soup with carrots, shallots and white potatoes.  I was going for stew but opted at the last moment for soup.  I cooked up the sweet potatoes and the bow tie pasta.  I made the cracked wheat.  I even cooked up a couple of beets.  the daughter-in-law loves beets. 

I was soaking wet after I finished cooking.  the kitchen was smoking.  I fed the kids pasta.  I also bought them each, two barekas at the bakery.  I wasn't feeling so well.  the granddaughter was being a real brat and I wasn't up for it.  I tried running away from her and sitting outside.  she followed me outside and continued her whining and screaming.  I was too hot to worry about the neighbors.  the grandson has been pretty easy going lately sans meds.

I continued to eat all day long.  the watermelon was not great.  I ended the day with a bowl of soup and a hard cooked egg.  it is traditional to dip a slice a bread or egg into a bit of ash.  every year I do this and every year I suffer.  this year I skipped the ash.  my son and wife weren't in a hurry to get home.  they seemed calm.  they said the food was good.  I felt dirty and smelly and couldn't wait for everyone to go home.  as soon as they left I got out of my rancid clothes and put on a robe and passed out.  I slept through the entire night.  I let the dogs out at 6:00 a.m. and went back to sleep.

the fast will end soon and the three weeks of mourning will end and then we will have the klezmer music festival.  the kids will be able to go back in the pool and I will do my laundry and go out and try to buy a new skirt or two.  I don't want to be sad anymore.

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