Shabbat June 9, Day 7
Morning davening scheduled for 10am! (there are some things I love about Chabad).
Caught Tai Chi before davening and Tamara danced with the ladies. My friend, the English-speaking old lady was in today, so now I know they were truly impressed by Tamara’s dancing. Afterwards, the lady explained that she wouldn’t be coming on Sunday as she was going to Church and whether we believed in Jesus. She made a valiant proselytizing pitch which we deflected — what a way to start Shabbos morning.
Nice crowd for kiddush, but much smaller one for lunch. One of the locals siphoned a lot of the guests to his house. There were a number of couples (mostly non-Asian Jewish men (US, Israel) married to Chinese women that converted). We got to sit next to the Rabbi and three of his kids. The children do home-schooling via an exclusive online academy for the children of Chabad emissaries. It’s an online cheder with live interaction with the teacher and with children from all over the world, five to six hours a day.
I quizzed the kids on Tanach and was very impressed with their knowledge level (though they admitted most of it comes from “The Little Midrash says” and they don’t really know the text inside so well. Amazing nonetheless.
Great quiet Shabbos nap followed by nice Mincha/Seudah Shlishit/Maariv/Havdalah (shabbaton ends).
On Friday, right before Shabbos, there had been a small fracas where we’re staying. Our tzimmer was opened just two months ago. It is composed of four rooms. We have the big one on the ground floor and there are three smaller ones on the second floor. A few minutes before candle-lighting a couple shows up (one of the visiting professors with his wife), but all the rooms are booked. To make a long story short, the lone, long-term resident (also chabadnik) volunteered to find himself another location and let the couple have his room. Over the course of Shabbat we found out that the tzimmer is actually illegal and the local authorities are closing it down. Chabad has taken them off their website (it was at the top of the hotels list and “Under supervision” of the Rabbi, but he has since disassociated himself).
Chabad activity in general is illegal as Judaism is not a recognized religion, but as long as it’s mostly for foreigners, they seem to leave him alone, though he is constantly monitored. One of the professors brought a Chinese guest for dinner which the Chabad house was not so happy about, as it could give them trouble. I just hope the authorities wait until we leave tomorrow before they shut our Tzimmer down.
With a free Saturday night, we decided to go to the movies. It was surprisingly uncomplicated. We found movie listings online, took a train that exited literally in front of the theater and then found a line of taxis waiting for those exiting (as the trains weren’t running anymore by then). We saw Men In Black 3 on IMAX 3D (English with Chinese subtitles). It was great.
Tomorrow is off to Beijing!