Mountains, Mysticism, and Moxie

So Nice…

to be in Israel.

Amazing actually.

And now, I need a rest. After two and a half whirlwind weeks, even in the holy land, one gets tired.

The City Of Kabbalah

Friday, my son Koby and I met up and went to Tzfat. This ancient city in Northern Israel is about three hours from Jerusalem. High up in the mountains, Tzfat is considered “the city of Kabbalah”…  very spiritual… mystical actually.  Cobblestoned streets and winding alleys lead to medieval Synagogues, art galleries and all sorts of captivating nooks and crannies.

With our last minute planning, I was frantically searching on Thursday night for our “second” Shabbat meal – which would be Saturday lunch. My son had set us up for Friday dinner and we had a place to sleep, but nowhere to eat Saturday. We were already on a very tight travel schedule and I was nervous we might not even arrive before sundown. Once the sun sets Friday, you are in “Shabbat time” and all the stores and restaurants close. You don’t drive, shop, spend money, cook, text, call, yada yada yada. In our quest to eat on Saturday, I texted my friend Shimona in Brooklyn, NY, asking if she might happen to know someone across the world in Tzfat who would be able to host us for Shabbat lunch. Of course I knew not a soul in Tzfat and of course Shimona, very engaged in the Jewish world, did! I quickly contacted Shimona’s dear friend Nechama in Tzfat who told me that though she was unable to host for Shabbat lunch, would we like to come for Friday dinner. I thanked Nechama but said my son already made us dinner plans and I hoped we’d meet in the future.

Shabbat In Tzfat

Once in Tzfat, Koby was very excited to return to the Caplan family who had hosted him and his friends once before. This time, my son was bringing me to meet these favorite people of his.

Our big adventure was this lovely dinner. The Caplan family live high up in the already high mountainy area.  Koby’s “Tzfat family” gave us an extremely warm welcome, shared delicious food and fascinating Torah conversation. In fact, Mrs. Caplan teaches Chassidus and Torah, and I’ve already followed up with plans to learn from her during my stay in Israel.

About two thirds through the meal, our wonderful hostess mentioned, “Funny, but there is another Rivka who is here in Tzfat this weekend trying to arrange a Shabbat meal.     
(**Side note to readers: Rivka is my Hebrew name)


wouldn’t you know…

We quickly identified that Shimona, across the world in Brooklyn, had connected this mystery Rivka with Nechama Caplan to ask about Saturday lunch plans…
The Caplans invited this other Rivka to Friday night dinner instead but Rifka had to decline because her son had made prior plans…
And yes, the one and the same Rivka (a.k.a. me) sat there at the one and the same   
Nechama Caplan’s table.

Apparently this unexpected serendipity is standard operations in Israel. The “coincidences” just flow. 


When Krav Maga lessons dropped into my lap during my first Shabbat in Israel (see: “A Krav Maga Surprise”), when I was standing at the Central Bus Station en route to Tzfat missing one thing (Shabbat candles) and a stranger walked up asking if I wanted any, when I was taking the bus to my cousins my first day in Jerusalem nervous I would get on the wrong bus and my cousin just happened to tap me on the shoulder on her way home from work, when I needed a place to rent in Jerusalem less than one week before I left the U.S. and it just happened that Leah mentioned that she needed to rent her apartment in Jerusalem, and when the now regular “coincidences” keep rolling in, I say…


The Road To Jerusalem

Sunday Koby and I caught the 2:00 pm bus back to Jerusalem. I said hello to the four young women I had met the day before at synagogue who happened to be on our bus. I chatted with the man sitting behind us who happened to know one of my best friends back in the U.S. (this I learned when he spoke just loud enough for me to hear him mention her name)…

After the six hour trip back to my cousin’s neighborhood due to highway traffic, bus and train transfers, and…

a little “persuaded” dancing with my son at the shuk:

… I got it in my head that I had just enough energy left to go to the hour and a half krav maga class on my way home. With my suitcase with me, I had what I needed to quickly change as the class was just about to start. One big problem was I didn’t know exactly where the school was. I had only been there once before and it was dark then and dark now. I had a rough idea of the house address where the class was held in the basement, but I couldn’t make out the numbers as the bus drove quickly by buildings and homes.

The lovely American family on this last bus ride had just moved to Israel. Striking up a conversation, I learned they were also interested in learning krav maga. When I told them the guesstimated address of the class, it just happened they lived four doors down. I got to where I needed to go and after the fantastic krav maga class and a long full weekend, I pulled my suitcase up the hill back to my cousins.

Now…. after these two and a half whirlwind weeks, I am tired… and happy.     

Laila tov. So much more to be revealed. 

Love, Vivi (a.k.a. Rivka)  ©

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Photos from Vivi and passerbys, Sleeping animal Photo by

4 thoughts on “Mountains, Mysticism, and Moxie

  1. Linda Disselkamp says:

    So exciting to hear of your travels and adventures in Israel. I hope that you are keeping a journal so you can remember all that you have done and all that you have met when your visit is over.

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