This weekend I had a wonderful Shabbat. I spent Shabbat with two different families in Be'er Sheva who I have never met.
Friday evening, prior to Shabbat, I took a cab to a family's apartment home. The parents are American and the children were born in Israel. They are 9, 11, and 14. The 14 year old just started school at a Yeshiva that he lives at during the week. They were very nice. I went with the children and the father to their synagogue nearby. It was Beit Knesset Rambam, a small neighborhood shul (synagogue) with around 50 families as members. They described it to me as one of 4 Ashkenazi synagogues in Be'er Sheva (out of around 200). The services were standard modern Orthodox, and while they were good and meaningful, they did not include as much singing as I would have liked.
After services, we returned to their home for a very good dinner. I learned that the father works in development at Ben-Gurion University and prior to spending two years in Yeshiva, had planned on being a Conservative Rabbi (he had also gone on USY Israel Pilgrimage). The mother works for the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. They were very nice. After dinner the father walked me part of the way back and told me how to return to their synagogue in the morning.
Saturday morning, I walked back to Beit Knesset Rambam and arrived at the end of the repitition of the Shacharit Amidah, joining the same family in time for the Torah Service. The 35-45 minute walk in the desert town (while wearing long sleaves and pants) was rather hot. I was pleasantly surprised during the Torah service when I was given the fifth Aliyah. That made me happy.
After services, I was introduced to the family that was hosting me for lunch. I also met a member of the synagogue who is from St. Louis. I was invited to her home for a meal at some point (I have since gotten their contact information to arrange that).
The family that hosted me for lunch was a nice group and an interesting mix. The father is Israeli and the mother is from Ohio. Their kids (14 - almost 15 - year old twin girls and a 13.5 year old boy) were born in the United States prior to the family's move to Israel. The father is retired but does a lot of work still and the wife is a pediatric dentist. They are not Shomer Shabbat, but regardless knew how to have a good Shabbat lunch.
For lunch we had, among other things, three types of fish, four types of chicken, two types of rice, and two types of potatoes. It was splendid. We spent some time talking and then I watched a movie at the request of their kids. We then had some Parve (non-milk) ice cream. I left to walk back to campus shortly after.
Both families have invited me back for future Shabbatot, etc. It was a great Shabbat.