Friday afternoon around 1 o’clock, 13 Nativers and two staff members who are spending the first half of this year studying at the Conservative Yeshiva, departed Jerusalem and headed east toward the dead sea and the beautiful new Massada guest house, where we joined about 75 others, students, faculty and staff to create an amazing Shabbat kehilla (community). When we arrived, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful pool, and swim for our first time since arriving. This was especially necessary, considering the nearly 40 degree heat that was a bit shocking to us new Jerusalemites. Afterwards, we prepared for Shabbat and joined together as a group. After some silly and serious icebreakers, one of the many spiritual moments came as the Shaliach Tsibbur began Yedid Nefesh and we all joined in. As I looked around the room, it was amazing to see the variety of people from all ages, movements and backgrounds who chose to take a year off from their lives to grapple over Jewish text.
After a spirited Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, we went down to dining hall for our Shabbat meal, with both good food and good company, we had a short dvar torah in the courtyard and then moved inside for a traditional tish, where was ate, drank, sang and told some stories. While being a lot of fun, it also displayed the amazing dynamic in our community, that we were each able to bring. After a bit more singing and watching my friends take a late-night dip in the pool (I decided it was time to get into my pajamas, and not a swimsuit!) , I went to bed and got one of best sleeps since my arrival!
Shabbat morning we had some nice, yet long tefillot, since we had cantorial students leading Shacharit and musaf and a slow haftarah, but it was capped off by my friend Josh Goldberg and I leading our ECRUSY ( Eastern Canadian USY) rendition of Anim Zemirot! We then had a nice Kiddush and a shiur by our rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Lewis on the connection between the words of our Parsha, ובחרת בחיים, “You shall choose life,” and the call of the shofar, which echoes a cry. We then ate lunch and davened mincha, which was led by Josh and I read two aliyot! After a nice long nap, we came back together for seudah shlishit and some singing. Afterwards, we had a very interesting panel discussion on the meaning of selichot with three members of the yeshiva faculty discussing their perspective of selichot and teshuva, which was interesting considering their different views and backgrounds. Soon it was time for Maariv and Havdalah, and we boarded the buses to head back to Jerusalem for selichot.
I attended selichot at the great synagogue, which is right around the corner from our dorms. I found the service very beautiful and meaningful, though it was interesting to notice the practice that nobody announced any page numbers or made any comments, making it hard for some people to follow. I thought it was very inspirational to see the entire shul packed, and the cantor and choir, all wrapped in Tallitot, harmonizing in front of us.
I will try to post some pictures soon, but in the mean time go to www.nativ.org, click on Nativ 26, and the Kibbutz, and you will find a couple of me.
שבוע טוב ולהתראות