Shabbos in Berkeley

It is late Saturday night and I am sitting on the edge of the bed, balancing the laptop on my lap.

It has been such a full, rich shabbos that I don't know where to begin.

My friend Karen, who is hosting me, has long urged me to visit Berkeley. The event that brought me here is unfortunate---the death of a friend and teacher. But being here has been a remarkable journey, simultaneously into my past and into my possible future.

My friend lives in a lusciously funky place; I remember living in places like this. Her small curly doggie is currently curled up on my bed. I am perched on half-a-tukhes catching up with the email that arrived during shabbos.

We won't talk about that; it's too unthinkable.

We came straight from the airport to visit friends I had not seen in a very long time.

I cannot imagine how we also shopped, walked the dog, cooked for shabbos and lit candles all before it got dark. Then shabbos! Visiting one potluck shabbos gathering attended by many who had come to weekends that Zalman and I had taught together. Then another group, celebrating with teaching and music.

Oh, and a word about the dog park---doggie heaven! A huge expanse of mild grassy hills and a dirt road beside a canal of water joining the Bay: huge space, wet and dry, level and hilly. And best of all: the company of other dogs.

Today we joined friends who hold a monthy shabbos gathering and Torah study, followed by potluck.

Wonderful: people I knew, others I didn't. On the way home, we stopped by the ocean. How could I be so near the sea and not at least spend a little time sniffing the air, listening to the waves, letting my eyes take in their fill of the beauty. We bundled up in everything my friend had in the car: blankets, scarves...After all, it was cold. It was really mostly the birds who saw us; and they didn't care.

On the way home, we stopped to visit the home of a mutual friend whom I had not seen in a few years. Oh, the shared stories that floated up...We have known each other since I was 11, and our paths have intersected in odd ways through the years. She has always been formidably talented, and catching up on the last years was a delight.

My friend and hostess has a keen sense of the paths I should be trying, and truly believes that a smart phone is on one of them. I have been resisting, clinging to my not-especially-smart flip phone for years. She may have convinced me to check out one of those geriatric smart phones advertised by AARP.

Oh dear,my Luddite self wails...

But she might be right.


Tomorrow I go to the memorial for my teacher and friend. Throughout this trip my mind and heart have been full of appreciation for his influence on my life and the life of my mother.

Grateful, grateful...

Shavu'a tov.