23. In my parents birthday card they mentioned how 23 is Don Mattingly’s baseball number. In my friend David’s birthday card he mentioned three things regarding the number 23. One is how Isaac Newton’s annus mirabilis was his twenty-third year. Another is that each parent contributes twenty-three chromosomes to start a new human life. And lastly, William Shakespeare was born and died on April 23rd. And now 23 is my new age!
Last Saturday, May 28, was my birthday. It was by far one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. I of course missed being with my family, and the day did feel a bit different due to that. But my other family, us OTZMAnikim, and a few others, celebrated with me and it was just wonderful.
Ariel was the first to visit on Thursday and when we met in the center of Jerusalem we were surrounded by a major influx of Birthrighters. We left the storm and went out to dinner at a delicious fish restaurant that was recommended to us. I got the “fishermans meal” which was mussels, shrimp, crab, and calamari in a tomato sauce. I think you can tell from this that I have not gone Kosher since coming to Israel. The restaurant was classy, lovely, and I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday meal than to be enjoying my food with Ariel. At the meal she gave me a card with a “surprise flap” on the inside telling me how a Starbucks gift card is on its way to Israel. Part of her gift to me was for the first few Starbuck drinks that I have on the states to be from her. How thoughtful 🙂
As a surprise for my birthday our waitress gave us each a glass of wine. I have to be honest, for a girl with stomach issues and that is into healthy eating, to me this glass of wine was much more enjoyable than cake. And it was a wonderful addition to an already beautiful evening.
Soon Ariel and I headed home and went to sleep. The next morning Ariel and some of my roommates and I hung around and drank some coffee. While doing so we planned the day ahead, which entailed Ariel, Tracy and I having a fun adventure at the grocery store. I purchased a sink squeegee for our kitchen which I was also excited about. Boy those things can be fun!
Before we knew it it was late afternoon and Vanessa, Rachel, and other OTZMAnikim had arrived! We all hung out, played some music, and cooked dinner. That night we had a communal Shabbat dinner which was beautiful. A few of us made pasta, sautéed up some vegetables, and had honey/horseradish marinated tofu (look forward to a future food blog post about this).
My friend Richard, who is famous for his “cabbage surprise” cooked up a spicier lauren-zink-style version of it in honor of my birthday. There was also vegetarian curry, scrambled eggs with veggies, eggplant parmesan, challah, and arugaleh and strawberries for dessert. Amir, our future Rabbi, started with some prayers as well and we all partook in the Kiddush and the Hamotzei. It was a beautiful dinner and I was so glad everyone could come together and enjoy bringing in the Sabbath.
Soon we kicked everyone out and prepared the room for the party. Eli is leaving tonight =( so it was a joint birthday/going away party, entitled, “Party Day.” Props to Ariel and Tracy for the balloons. Our kitchen/family room was awesomely decorated.
A few hours later and it was party time. We had people, music, drinks, what more could I have asked for? Midway through Tracy surprised Eli and I with a “party day cake” that she had made. My roommates Becca and Trace also did a personalized song for Eli and I to the tune of “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra. At this point I had pulled Eli off his seat and danced with him to the song.
After a few hours we went into the center of Jerusalem and went to a bar/club. Everyone was dancing, smiling, and having a great time. Even those who hate the dance club scene said they had a blast. It was a magical evening indeed!
The next day we sat out on the campus of the Kfar Studentim at Hebrew University and grilled some food. There is nothing better than grilled onions I must say. Later in the day we made mimosas and all toasted to my birthday. To be surrounded by people who have become my second family, and to be able to share in this celebration with all of them, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Thank you everyone!