I went to temple today. I found my way there by UBahn and went inside with my bag of new stuff and my backpack with my laptop in it. I took off my coat after being greeted by a man who knew I had called earlier (a student worker called to see what time services were). I went inside to the left and sat down. Immediately, I was told to go upstairs. Not knowing why, I politely got up, just assuming thats where everyone was going. I went up and found the balcony seats to be empty. The services did not start for another couple of minutes, so I went back down stairs where everyone else was. I should say that everyone else was just men. I again tried to sit down on the ground level. I was greeted by the Rabbi who was very nice. He looked me in the eyes and asked me if I spoke Hebrew. I said no. He asked me if I speak German, I said no. He asked me if I spoke only English, and to this I said yes. He smiled at me. The first man who had told me to go up stairs looked at the Rabbi, said something in German and looked away. The Rabbi turned to me and told me to go upstairs. I must have looked a bit confused because he then said, “this is an Orthodox Temple, you understand.” So I went upstairs. Sat down. And was pissed. I had forgotten that this was tradition. Because I am a girl, I cannot sit down with everyone else. Happily, I saw that another woman was banished to the balcony as well. The service was about 35 minutes of the Rabbi singing and rocking with his back toward the 4 of us (2 men downstairs, and the woman and myself upstairs). As the service went on for about 8 minutes, another man loudly joined in. He sang the wrong words to the wrong melody. The entire time. It was quite distracting. He was shaking. I felt bad for him.
After the service, I got my coat and was ready to leave when I was invited back upstairs. Skeptical this time, I went because everyone else went. I was apparently invited to Sadder. The three men and the woman and I sat down at a table. With some sort of NASTY fish with scales, no head, bones, and gross juice in a bowl, this gross concoction was offered to me. The Rabbi was telling everyone how much it stank. Some was put into a bowl for me, but I didn’t even touch it. The Rabbi didn’t have any so I felt that it was fine that I didn’t either. I think the loud shaky man brought it. I don’t think the Rabbi knew the loud shaky man because the Rabbi seemed a bit…bothered by him too. We said the prayer for the bread and wine and chatted and sang and prayed a bit more. It was very nice. The Rabbi told me about his life. He is from Israel, his parents are Hungarian, and he now lives in Germany. He grew up speaking Hebrew and Yiddish. He also speaks Hungarian, German, and English. It was quite amazing. He said that he is not good with english, but it was perfect and easy to hold a conversation with him. He told me that his son speaks 8 languages and that I should talk with him when he comes in late February. I said I would and I said I would be back for the Saturdays that I am in Bonn. I will. The woman ended up just being able to speak German and Spanish, so I couldn’t really communicate with her. At the end of the dinner she invited me (through the Rabbi as our translator) to come to her house for dinner because her husband speaks good English. This was a bit shocking to me, but it was very nice. I was too scared to go alone, Uschi had dinner for me, and I was going to Berlin in the morning, so I did not take her up on her offer. I don’t think anything like that would be something normal at home. I was quite amazed.
I went home for dinner and got to speak with mom and dad. I miss them and really enjoy talking with them. Time seems to go by so fast when we talk.