Monday, October 6, 2014

Shana Tova

The month of September brings with it a lot of new beginnings, one of which is the Jewish new year. 
For those who are confused: the Jewish calendar has 12 months (usually), just like the regular calendar, but is going by the moon. That means that a new month begins with a new moon, and the middle of the month will always be accompanied by a full moon. The first month of the Jewish calendar is Tishrey and it has 3 major holidays: 
- Rosh HaShana - the Jewish new year
- Yom Kippur - 10 days after Rosh Hashana, a holiday in which we fast for 25 hours, reflect on the  year we've had, and ask for forgiveness from anyone we've hurt, or for any bad deed we have done. You're not supposed to drive on Yom Kipur, and in Israel it is the most special day of the year, when nobody is driving, roads and highway are filled with pedestrians and bike riders. It is the most peaceful day. 
- Sukot - 15 days after Rosh Hashana is the holiday of Sukot (pop quiz: what is the shape of the moon every year in Sukot?) 

Weather you know us personally, or have just been following our blog, I'm sure by now you've realized we're Jewish. 
Jewish cruisers, it turns out, are a rare commodity, and since cruisers make close to a hundred percent of our world we were left to celebrate the holidays alone. Or so we thought...

Shortly after we've arrive to prickly bay we went to visit friends who stayed on land while their boat was out of the water. On the way to their apartment we passed  a sign that pointed up a hill to  "Chabad of Grenada". Chabad can be described as a Jewish mission. With over 2000 centers all around the world, they help serve as a Jewish home wherever there are Jews. We made a mental note to check it out, and of course, forgot all about it five minutes later...
A month later, on a Friday about 4 weeks ago, we went to provision and in the store I saw a tall guy with a baby on his arms, a yalmuka on his head and a beard. I said to Oren that I'm going to say hi to the Chabad guy. He asked why do I think it's the Chabad guy? I said I was pretty sure he looked like a rabbi, and if he was, I'm sure he is the only rabbi in Grenada. He had to be Chabad. 
And so I went and said hi and we started a conversation in English, until the kids joined me, and we realized we both speak Hebrew, and (this one is for you, Rozio)
Turns out that until he was five he lived in Tel Aviv basically in the same neighborhood I grew up in... Small world... We quickly learned that he and his wife came to Grenada less then a year ago to start the first ever Chabad here.  We also learned there are about 500 Jewish students at St. George's university! Well of course there are, There's a med school here...
Finally, as it was a Friday, we were invited to a Shabat dinner that evening. And so Baruch, Chaya and little Mandi came into our life and our hearts. 
That Friday was the day of Mika's Frozen show, and after a great meal, the Rabbi asked Her to perform one of the songs. Without hesitation she stood up and sang Let It Go to a crowd of about 50 people. She did Great! We had a great time and were surprised to enter what feels like a parallel universe. Spending so much time in the cruisers community we finally met the young students. The majority of which are med students with a few exceptions being vet students. They were intrigued by our life style and posed questions like: what do you do all day? Do you cook on the boat?! And where do you sleep? It was interesting to look at ourselves through their eyes. 
Our kids fell in love with Mandi and we promised to come for Shabat again. 
Which we did. And then came Rosh Hashana. Rabbi Baruch told us they were expecting about a hundred guests for dinner! 
Chaya has been preparing for a while, baking the Challahs and cakes, and cooking what ever could be prepared ahead of time. But so many things had to be done right before the meal, we've decided we have to help. In the last three days before Rosh Hashana we came over to their house and had a great time getting into the spirit of the holiday. Mika and Gur were busy wrapping the individual honey cake Chaya made for each guest, we helped setup and decorate the tables and I was in charge of the traditional symbols of the holiday that come from Oren's Iraqi side of the family, like the Karra, the Salka and the Lubia. The Ashkenazi version of the symbols include the Rimon, the apple with honey and the fish head. 

While helping we got to play and enjoy Mandi. Such a sweet baby! 
The meal was great. We really enjoyed being able to celebrate the new year with so many others!
At the end of the meal, Mika was aske to sing again, and this time came prepared with Bashana Habaaa, a song about the new year, and was joined by many voices. It was beautiful!
Our next visit to Chabad was yesterday for the last prayers of Yom Kipur and the breaking the fast meal. This year both Oren and I fasted, and we even rowed the dinghy to avoid running the engine :)
Mika was asked to sing yet again, and since it was no longer Shabat, this time we even have a picture! 
 Today the Rozmarin family came to visit us on our boat. Rabbi Baruch enjoyed driving the dinghy, while Chaya and I tried to fish. We had a great time! Just being able to chat in Hebrew with another woman is something I realize now I've really missed. 

Tomorrow we are going 'on the hard' our boat is coming out of the water and we're going to renew the bottom paint and do some other maintenance tasks. 
Wish us luck! We will spend the next week on land in an apartment we've rented. It will feel strange no doubt, but I'm sure I will enjoy an endless supply of fresh water...

I want to sign off wishing you a happy new Jewish year. May you make new friends and enjoy old friends, may fair winds be always with you. 
And as we say in Hebrew: Shana Tova!


  1. Shana Tove ve metuka. may you have only calm seas and lots of fun this year.

  2. Wonderful Post! I spotted myself in the kitchen :)
    You and your family are an inspiration to us all.
    See you Sukkot!