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Kosel Kalling: My Friday Night Seudah Gamble

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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: Kosel Kalling: My Friday Night Seudah Gamble

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kosel Kalling: My Friday Night Seudah Gamble

(Guest Posted by the Anonymous Bochur)

It’s Friday night, and I’m in that same place again. Wondering where to eat the seudah. One of the most classic of yeshiva bochur conundrums, the options are fairly numerous, and the spectrum quite varied. Obviously, I didn’t have a specific invitation, and I along with my friend were klerring the various options. Brodstein? Shwadron? A different open house? Or perhaps a chilled dira seudah? All these and more are heavily debated, each undergoing deep scrutiny before being rejected for some reason or other.

After much give-and-take, my friend and I decide we’re going to go to the Wall to find a meal. Should be interesting, right? Used to be, us Jews would make the pilgrimage to the Wall from all over the world to pray, but nevermore. Today, the Kosel is one of the best places to find a meal Friday night. We don’t enjoy the half hour brisk walk through the old city, being that we are, of course, late. We do, however, notice at least three separate Birthright tours, each with around 50 chevra or so. One of the teenagers of the group, a real Harry-ess is ticked with the loud comments coming from behind her and she calls out in perfect Har Nof style Ivrit “Sheket”. We’re rolling with laughter as we hurry along.

We finally reach the Kosel, and discover that the place is basically empty. We figure that we’re too late; I’m envisioning not-too-appetizing hard rolls from last week with some chummous older than that, but not to worry. As we walk up the path to the Wall, we’re offered two places to eat, not including the great Jeff Seidel option. Who by the way, has the most interesting brown/white shoes I’ve ever seen on a frum yid on Shabbos. Or any other time for that matter.

The latter of our two invitations came from a fine fellow who was clearly a Lubavitcher, although that didn’t put me off. A quick, potentially sensitive question later (“Do you eat Rabbanut Mehadrin”?) and an equally quick “I’m here on vacation and everything has been cooked by a fine Meah Shearim caterer” response settles our Kashrus worries.

We agree to meet our host at the Kippah stand after we finish Ma’ariv. While we daven, our Lubavitcher friend manages to snag three more lost souls, and together we make our way to the most amazing dira I’ve ever been in. Not kidding. This guy was staying in a dira with THE ULTIMATE VIEW. That’s right, look out the panoramic living room window and see the Wall. And all the holy yidden assembled there to pray…or find a meal. And when you’re through doing that, turn around to watch TV on the 50” Sony Bravia HDTV. Life is good for some people.

Turns out that one of the people he’s hooked is a completely lost yeshiva bochur, of sorts. He’s learning here for the summer…sort of. Where’s he learning? The JTS. Seriously. I never knew this, but apparently, at the JTS yeshiva program here in Israel, there are 100 people. 50 guys and 50 girls. I ask half jokingly if they learn b’chavrusa with the other gender and he responds positively. I’m blown away. I feel like screaming at him, but manage to control myself. The other two people are an uninteresting couple (both teachers) from Queens who have nothing particularly interesting to say, except when the Messianic age schmooze begins. At that point, the lady perks up, and declares that she “would not want to live in that age”. Why not, we all ask in unison? She answers with this really weird moshel from…The Lord of the Rings. Something about Gollum and the Hobbit. I kid you not.

But by far the coolest part of the meal is the friend of our host who lives full time in the old city. A fascinating fellow, he lectures internationally on the Jewish faith, how it relates, or doesn’t, to Islam and Christianity, and in the process had scuba dived just about everywhere. Basically, we sit enraptured by the Jewish people’s history for almost five hours. In between, we discuss politics- both Israeli and American, cooking- how to make the nastiest cholent ever, and everything in between.

But this guy’s big shtick is the Messianic era. He has Tanach on his fingertips, and throughout the meal quotes liberally from it; chapter and verse too. And when one of the guests asks something out of John, he answers her with chapter and verse too!

By the end of the meal, us (my friend and I) and this guy have gotten into a mildly heated debate about Zionists, Ben Hecht, and Chassidish Rebbes while everyone else looks on. Soon, though, we decide that the time has come to end the meal (its one o’clock by now, and our host is poofing away- he’s retired some time ago). We bentsch and make our way out of there. According to the Conservative bochur, it was, and I quote directly, “the perfect Shabbat evening”. I couldn’t agree more.

So the next time you’re stuck for a meal on Friday night, head down to the Kosel; you may not enjoy the meal, but you’ll likely have an experience to remember. After all, this is the most interesting city in the world!

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