Our new apartments—we are in the same complex of apartments, but in different buildings (LaDonna and Eva and my daughters are at one apartment and the rest of us are at the other)—are about a 20 minute drive to the city center. This area is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community, which has been a marvelous and instructive experience for us.
Many Jews follow the rule that you should not kindle a fire on the Shabbat. This includes lights, stoves, computers, cars, etc…from Friday night to Saturday night.
We are on the sixth or 13th floor of our respective buildings. The girls’ apartment building (13th floor) has two elevators, a regular one and a Shabbat one. Our apartment (6th floor) has just one elevator that has a Shabbat mode from Friday to Saturday night.
Shabbat mode is either off completely or extremely slow—staying in the lobby for five minutes and then going all the way to the top and then back down one floor at a time, stopping with a loud buzz on each floor. That’s been very interesting for us!
Driving to church at the Jerusalem Center was interesting as well. Our reserved parking spot is RIGHT next to the local synagogue. This synagogue apparently is too small or something, because they were holding a meeting in the parking lot. When we needed to turn on our giant van and drive away, right next to their meeting. Awkward!!
Also, in Orthodox neighborhoods, many of the roads are blocked off on Shabbat. Google maps showed us some of them, but not all of them. And there are interesting one way streets, streets only for taxis, and unclear directions—let’s just say, it’s a good thing we left for church 50 minutes early, because our 20-minute drive took 40. 🙂
Church was amazing!!!! The branch presidency was released and a new one called, the Bethlehem branch was changed to a group, and a new RS presidency called. And a ton of student callings were sustained. I really enjoyed Relief Society today—our lesson was all about ministering, and the way the women who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry served the Savior.
I think my favorite comment was from one of the BYU students. She mentioned the way she had been taught to think about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We are, at different times in our lives, each character in the story. Sometimes we are the thief (we hurt others and just leave them suffering). Sometimes we are the Levite or the priest, avoiding the pain of others. Sometimes we are the donkey (this was my favorite part), and the Lord asks us to carry someone for a time. Sometimes we are the innkeeper, asked to care for someone until they are well. It was a great new way for me to think about it.
Elder Christofferson’s talk is titled “Abide in My Love”.
After church we explored the Jerusalem Center gardens, and then went home to plan the next week/take naps/eat spaghetti/have a devotional. Our next week is going to be a busy one, I’m so excited!