Israel@60 Mission: Kabbalat Shabbat

It wasn't exactly Caesar's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, but for Israel@60 missionites, Mayor Gavin Newsom's arrival caused quite a stir.

Hours before his Friday night appearance, many missionites took advantage of a Shabbat eve visit to the Kotel (The Western Wall). It was another glorious late afternoon in the Old City (is there any other kind?), and the crowds were thick.

We only had 30 minutes, so after saying a prayer against the wall, I decided to look for a Chabad rabbi I had met there in 2003. He had shown me great hospitality on Shabbat then, and I promised to come back someday to visit again. Turned out I nisssed him by an hour, or so I was told by a half-minyan of other Chabadniks. One man among them -- not a rabbi -- told me he was a teacher of rabbis, and counted among his former students Rabbi Josh Strulowitz of Adath Israel in S.F. He also said he once took a walking tour of Joe DiMaggio's San Fracisco many years ago. When I told him about the Giants' dismal prospects this season he said, "There's always tomorrow."

I replied, "Yes but not tomorrow. Maybe the day after tomorrow."

After the Old City we enjoyed a spirited but freezing outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat service at the rooftop chapel of the Shimshon Center next door. Then, Shabbat dinner at the center (indoors). Midway through, Mayor Newsom and his fiancee Jennifer Seibel showed up looking happy and rather rested for having just come off that long flight.

Mayor Newsom at Shabbat dinner Mayor Gavin greets Mission participants at Shabbat dinner. Photo by Mark Schulman

The Mayor told us he had been wanting to come to Israel for most of his life, about the same amount of time he had known Sam Lauter, one of our esteemed missionites (Sam flew in with Newsom). The Mayor recalled that within a minute or two of meeting Sam many years ago, Lauter popped the question: "So, have you been to Israel?"

He said while here he is a student, and wants to learn as much as he can from all of us. Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Mayor.

This evening, Newsom met incoming federation CEO Daniel Sokatch. "So, you're the new guy!" he said to Sokatch.

Tomorrow the Mayor takes a walking tour of the Old City. We'll be there.

Shabbat Shalom,

Blog b'Omer (Dan Pine)

Categories: Israel


May 02, 2008


The Federation