1. On the Shabbos before her wedding, a kallah has a last hurrah, of sorts, with her community of women – mother, aunts, teachers, friends. The Shabbos Kallah isn’t really a bachelorette party; rather, it’s a chance for everyone to offer blessings and advice for the bride on her impending marriage, and to calm her jitters.
An alumna of my seminary got married last night, and on Shabbos the current students prepared a shaleshudes for her. We played wedding-themed games, sang wedding songs, and exchanged brachos, blessings, for the future. This wouldn’t be so remarkable, except that most of the students have just met her this week, yet somehow it went without saying that we were all responsible for her. In our community, this is simply what one does to make a bride happy.
2. Walking home one evening after school, about a week after my arrival, I was feeling maladjusted and uneasy, and wondering when I would start to feel at home here. Right on cue, two American girls with suitcases crossed the street to ask me, in Hebrew, to direct them to a particular address. I knew where to send them.
3. The school placed me, for Shabbos lunch, with a Sefardi family who sang the most beautiful tune for “Chai Hashem.” I’ve been humming it ever since. Both husband and wife are musicians, and upon learning that I played the oboe, he told me about a Gemara which says that one of the instruments played in the Bais Mikdash was an oboe.
4. I attended last night’s aforementioned wedding, just outside the Old City. The kallah was lovely, the chasan was glowing, there was nary a dry eye at the chuppah. After dancing with the bride, my friend A. and I felt like stopping by the holiest spot in the world on our way to the bus stop. We sat at the Kotel, saying Tehillim and soaking it in, for an hour before we caught, by sheer providence, the very last bus home.