Shabbat was, theoretically, a day of rest, but I spent much of it wandering through Tel Aviv, which felt like New York--free, open, vital, very different from Jerusalem. This was the last day of the year? It was business as usual, since New Year's, CE version, isn't a holiday here. Strange. After a long walk on the beach behind our hotel (which took me by surprise... I had forgotten Tel Aviv was right on the water, and had no idea it would look so much like Miami, one big hotel after another), we had Shabbat services this morning as profound as last night's, and I chanted Torah for the third time. (I was so exhausted and overwhelmed by this point in the week that I couldn't discern one kind of amazing from another. I remember the day now as if submerged under a big wave of happiness, details all blurred together.) Lunch just a few feet from the sea, and then another long walk through this city pieced together from buildings old and new, massive and intimate, with lots of clubs and discos and a little of everything else, as well.
(I also gained new appreciation for being a designer who works in the English language. Hebrew is beautiful when written or typeset in a classic font, but looks really strange in neon. There aren't enough letters; a resh, nun, and samech together [as in "Renaissance Hotel," and other odd transliterations], minus serifs, calligraphic flourishes, and the interruption of vowels of equal stature rather than little dots above and below, look like a stick-figure drawing of half a face. The Romans knew what they were doing.)
Havdalah and candlelighting on the beach that evening, the menorah made of candles stuck in the sand, the besamim (spices) mint leaves, and our singing accompanied by the slow rush of waves. After dinner at a little boardwalk restaurant, the second walking tour of the day--Bauhaus architecture, of which Tel Aviv is a major world center. At midnight, a champagne toast by the water, reminding me for the first time in days that my home was on the other side of the world where such things mattered, and where it was a little colder than 70 degrees.