So where was I....ahh yes, Friday night:
A guy I know from Penn who is on a different program here in Rabat, joined us for dinner. He had gotten in touch with me the day before, and Baria had been more than happy to set one more place at our holiday table. Jakob was thrilled - a son! So we all go home together, sat down in the living room (special! not the regular dining room) - and Jakob immediately grabs the alcohol: Beer for the girls (none for Baria) and a stiff glass of J&B whiskey on the rocks for Yosef (my friend), and another hefty one for himself. And that was just the beginning.
So we're shmoozing and boozing during we have the first course of salads which involves a few new ones (spinach, artichoke, dates) and then the (previously mentioned) "rosh keves" which, I'm told by a new Jewish Moroccan acquaintance of mine, may NOT have been brain, but might be cheek meat...Either way, I'm glad Yosef was there or I might not have tried it, recovering vegetarian that I am. Anyway, the meal was progressing grandly and Jakob was starting to feel...happy. By the time we had eaten the main course was over and we were eating our Fruwi (fruit, our desert), Jakob wanted to sing. And Yosuf was more than happy to join in.
So we sang...and danced (Jakob and Yosuf mostly) for a good 45 minutes, if not more. We sat on the couches and tried to find mutual songs in mutual languages. We stood with our hands over our hearts for Hatikva, swayed for Alouette, and Jakob dipped Yosef through a tango, and tried to kiss him...twice. Jakob is an adorable, lovable man every day, but this night was clearly Jakob at his most entertaining. I'm excited for the wedding.
That night we walked Yosef back to his Bab, but on the way back we were followed by two Moroccan males. They persisted for 10 minutes with their "Hello, how are you?"s and their "Bon Soir"s and finally I'd had enough. I turned around and said - sternly - "SHUMA!" (Shame!). It did no good. I did it again. And again. Lisa took a turn and tried out her newly learned Arabic curse words ("Go F* yourself" was her epithet of choice). To no avail. Finally, after one of the two began to caress my arm, I turned to a cab driver who was standing by his cab and pointed to the guys following us and said, loudly, "Shuma!" That worked. The cabbie gave them one look, and they were done.
We went to shul, and there were a million women! But ZERO Machzorim. It was crazy. I don't know how the men followed. I happened to have a siddur, but even so, it was very difficult to follow the whole service. They skipped things, added things, and all the men and even some of the women who weren't talking or staring into space or jumping around after their kids, somehow knew where we were and what was going on. One thing that really threw me for a loop was that they didn't do the bow-all-the-way-down-to-the-ground part of Aleinu, which to me is so essential to Rosh HaShana...Lisa and I were both sort of shocked. There was no speech, no wasted time, and we got out at noon. Yosef came again for lunch, and we had another lovely, less drunken, time. (Baria didn't allow more than one glass of whiskey. "Morning!" she said.)
NOTE TO MOM: On Shabbat day/Yom Tov we forgot the beets! It was just like home, when we always forget the beets. We also had a pomegranate Saturday night for our shehchiyanu whose taste conjured up images of our own shining, happy, family-filled Yuntif table.
Sunday was less eventful, except that we met some more woodwork Jews who came to hear the Shofar (which they obviously couldn't blow yesterday since it was Shabbat). We went to the beach and met more American students from the other main study abroad program that's here in Rabat. Between our Arab Cafe Internet-hangout, the beach, and prior acquaintances. I think we know most of them now.
OK whew. That's a lot for you to digest -- literally. I'm going to go to bed because I have to get up in 4 hours to get to Marrakesh, but I'll leave you with the song by Sergio Menedes featuring John Legend called "Please Baby Don't" (sorry it's a live version -- but at least its from Philly!) which has been stuck in my head all weekend, and never fails to put me in a good mood.