Well I must have done something right at the first Hadassah meeting I participated in because before I knew it I was accepting a wonderful invitation by the President of Hadassah Southern California to be the lunchtime speaker at their big winter conference in Los Angeles! I was so excited to share my story with more wonderful women who pledge so much time and money to support Hadassah and Israel that I jumped at the chance to once again stand on the podium and share my experiences as a (not so) new immigrant, former East Jerusalem resident, and live witness of both an offensive and a war with the Hamas controlled Gaza strip. Plus it gave me a great excuse to visit my sister and explore Los Angeles for a weekend. The conference was wonderful, but by the time Bubby and I got back to the hotel we were so wiped out that we decided to stay in for the night and see my sister the next day after she was done with work. As it was she had an AIPAC event that first night anyways so it was a good time to just stay in and relax.
When Bubby and I woke up the next morning we woke up to the end of what was a supposedly very intense rain storm that we managed to completely sleep through. Since we had to occupy ourselves until the late afternoon when my sister was done at work we decided to venture to the Century City mall to pass the time and do some shopping. Luckily the rain stopped because, as we found out when we arrived, Century City mall is completely outdoors. It took us a while to get moving in the morning so by the time we arrived to the mall and parked it was already noon and we figured we should probably get some lunch before we braved the many stores. We found this really fancy Italian restaurant and decided to have a nice meal out, ordered a very rich pasta and a gorgeous dish of mussels in a white wine sauce (that we are not allowed to tell Stephane that I tasted or he will be really mad at me :-p), ate until there was no room left, and then started to do a bit of shopping.
I didn’t really have much to buy for myself but I did know that I wanted to try and find something really nice for Stephane’s mom, and to my surprise and utter pleasure, the stores I frequented had Israeli staff and I was able to do all of my shopping in Hebrew. I felt right at home, and it was so nice to have a conversation in Hebrew again which, in the last 6 weeks, has only happened when I call Stephane and his mom is around to talk to.
After a few hours at the mall it was time to return to the hotel to meet my sister and get ready for our Friday night Shabbat plans. This was a really special Shabbat for me for many reasons. One being that I was going to meet my sisters boyfriend of over a year for the very first time, and another was because we were going to see my “big brother” Seth lead services at the gorgeous Wilshire synagogue near Beverly Hills where he serves as one of their head Cantors. My family and Seth’s family have been friends since my sister and I were babies and both Seth and his little brother Peter are as much family to us as anyone, and we were going to not only see Seth but also Peter, their mother Jayne, and their step father Big Peter. It was truly going to be a family reunion.
Services were really wonderful (even though I normally would not frequent a reformed synagogue), and Seth, along with his children’s choir, were fantastic. It was so fun seeing him in his total element, and I was sitting next to his amazing girlfriend and mom who were just beaming at him the whole service. After services were over we were given a private tour of the synagogue which is the largest and oldest in Los Angeles, and I discovered that it was even used to film the movie “Keeping the Faith”. It was the most breathtaking synagogue I have ever been in and the best part was that Seth decided to ascend the stage and serenade my grandmother with the most overwhelmingly beautiful Chazanus (cantorial music). His talent knows no bounds, and he made my grandmother the happiest person in the world. We are all just so proud of him!
We’re Jews, we like to eat!
After our personal tour it was time to partake in an experience I have never had the pleasure of trying before… KOREAN BARBEQUE! Since the synagogue is so close to Korea town (which is gigantic), we decided to join Seth, Sarah, Peter, Jayne, and Big Peter for a very fun dinner. I didn’t know this at the time but with Korean BBQ they basically bring out a lot of raw meet and we cook it ourselves. We had unlimited food for about $20 a person, and it was some of the best meat I had ever eaten. The fact that we cooked everything ourselves at the table made the meal one of the most fun I have ever had, and I found myself really wishing Stephane were there with me. He would have loved it and might have even eaten non kosher meat out just once to experience it! I’ll have to try and see if he’ll come with me when we are back in California this summer.
It was all in all a truly fantastic day… Until I got back to the hotel. I guess the rich pasta lunch and the Korean BBQ decided to have a fight in my stomach and, of course, I got sick (I’ll spare the details but it was a most uncomfortable evening).
Holidays at the Grove
After getting as good of a night sleep as I could we woke up the next day, met Brian and Elana, and headed off to the Grove for some lunch and shopping. The Grove was beautifully decorated for the holidays and we decided to have our meal at Umami Burger, which was a most excellent choice. After eating our delicious truffle burgers and mounds of sides we ran into a good friend from High School and decided to head in to a candy shop that would make any child cry with excitement.
After spending $50 dollars on pounds of candy my sister’s boyfriend, Brian, decided he wanted to have each of us try the most sour thing in the store to see how we could handle it. We were each given our Super Sour gumballs (the most sour thing in the shop) and… well you will see by the pictures that my sister and I did the worst, Brian seemed to be alright, and Susanna (our friend that we met) was so completely not phased that she might as well have been chewing regular gum!
After we played “kids in a candy shop” we made our way to Nordstrom, where, in California, you can apparently bring your dogs. I was in heaven surrounded by designer clothes and shoes and puppies… EVERYWHERE! It seemed like every dog in Los Angeles was in Nordstrom when we were there and I was totally fine with that, although it made me miss my puppy even more. I was having a bit of separation anxiety during my 3 days away, but I knew he was in good hands with his Mimi!
As much as I wanted to spend all day in what I would term “heaven”, my lunchtime burger decided it wanted to do to me what the Italian and Korean BBQ did, and low and behold I was sick yet again… In Nordstrom… NOT FUN. So we wrapped things up pretty quickly and then headed back to the Hotel. We were going to meet my sister and Brian later that night for dinner but with the way I was handling LA food I thought it would be better for me to stay in and try and recover so that I wouldn’t have a problem on the car ride home the next morning. Luckily I had an incident free night and the next morning Bubby and I headed back home to the desert. I had a great time in LA but I was ready to get home to my pup!
We missed you terribly this trip, Friend. In fact, most nights when Bubby and I returned to the hotel she wanted to call you to check in. It is still so strange that you aren’t here even though it has almost been a year. I guess it will take a long time to get used to that empty space we all feel.
Anyways, more updates coming tomorrow! I love you forever and always.
Until we meet again <3,