Friday, August 13, 2004

Column: Long Island Meets Tzfat

A couple of weeks ago I was happy to hear from my neighbor and friend, Genine Bar-El (Ginny Lederberger), that her friend and the publisher and editor of this paper, Jodi Bodner - DuBow, was on her way here to Tzfat. Genine invited me to a celebration at her home where Jodi would be in attendance. The celebration was the bar-mitvah of Jacob Rosenfeld, the son of Meir and Debbie. Debbie and Jodi and Genine are old friends.

When I arrived, the group of about 50 friends and family -- most of them having made the trip from New York -- were taking a late afternoon walk around Tzfat's old city and artist quarter. Rony Bar-El, Genine's husband and a chef and caterer by profession, was catering the party and was there to greet me. Rony suggested that I grab a drink and head up to the terrace on the roof. I was quick to oblige and watched the sun set over Meron.

When the group arrived the music began to play and pretty soon everybody was on the terrace. Jodi and I began to talk and then she started introducing me around and then everyone realized that they knew me from my column in the paper. Some said that they had recognized me from my picture but couldn't figure out from where until the introduction. I soon felt that I was surrounded by old friends.

The group had been in Nachal Devorah in the Golan Heights that day -- following the bar mitzvah which was held in the beit-haknesset of Joseph Caro in the old city here. I was told about the water falls there and the great time had by everyone. Everyone was praising Tzfat, its holiness and beauty and peacefulness. I was happy and impressed to hear about everyone's love for Israel. All were interested and involved and some visited very frequently. Many had family living or children studying here.

We went downstairs and sat down to a great meal in the Bar-El's garden. As the conversation at the table warmed up, Phil Rosen and I realized that we knew each other from years back in Lawrence where we had met at Beth Shalom. I hadn't seen him for years and while I knew he was on the board of this paper I was surprised to find him sitting right there. We had a long and interesting conversation about the political scene here and in America.

Soon, Jacob gave a great dvar-torah and Meir and Debbie spoke proudly of their son. Debbie spoke gratefully of their friends and family who had made the long trip to share in their simcha. Genine told the group the story of her meeting Rony in India and how they came to settle in Tzfat, raise a family, and open their catering and bed and breakfast business.

They currently cater in their home and outside as well -- all over Israel -- to groups of 15 or more. At home they currently host synagogue groups, schools, family simchas - bar mitzvahs and even weddings. They have a teudat kashrut from the Rabbanut of Tzfat. At this time they have one Bed and Breakfast - a luxury suite that can accommodate a family of 5-6 which is listed in Mapa's "200 Best B&Bs in Israel." The Bed and Breakfast is now being expanded into a "Kabbalistic Inn" and will hopefully be open in the Summer of 2005. It will feature 5 luxury suites and a restaurant which will be open daily. Visit their web site here and see what it's all about.

Also, you might want to check out my new blog, or web log. It is like my own web site, except it is free and I don't have control over the advertisements. It is called "galileeblog" and if you search for it on Google it comes right up or you can look for it here: . I post my articles there (new and old) and other writings and comments -- with links to interesting stuff. Visitors can comment by joining "blogger" -- you may have to create your own blog but you don't have to use it. So, send your comments -- I look forward to hearing from you. Afterwards, please look for my response to your comments. See you there and maybe even here -- in Tzfat.


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