Monday, December 31, 2007
For the past three years (since I was on Pilgrimage in the summer of 2005), there have been many times when I was supposed to visit (or live on) kibbutz Sa'ad, and each time, something, either the security situation or other shabbat plans I had. While I thoroughly enjoyed my four months living on Kibbutz Ein Zurim and working on the communal Moshav Massuot Yitzhak, I still felt like something was missing not having lived on Sa'ad or at least visited there, since every Nativ for the first 25 years of the program had done so. Yael, our madricha had told me last year, that I will come back to Israel relatively soon, and that I will visit Sa'ad.
Well, she was right on both counts. When I knew I was coming to Israel, I immediately made plans to spend a shabbat on Sa'ad in order to to finally visit the place I had heard so much about, visit Yael and my fellow Nativer David Landau, who has made Aliyah and is now living on Sa'ad.
After walking around the shuk for a while and getting a shawarma on Friday, I headed over to the Tachana Mercazit (central bus station) and caught the #443, a once a day bus that travels directly by Sa'ad via Sderot. The ride took about an hour and a half, and was very pretty and relaxing, between the fact that the bus was relatively empty (unlike most egged rides I've taken) and that we got to pass by my old digs of En Zurim, Massuot Yitzhak and Negba. It was quite an interesting experience to drive through sderot, the town that has been the focus of Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. While it was hard to see too much from the bus, what I could see is that a small, beautiful community which was simply trying to make a life for itself and its children, has been uprooted from its normal routine and forced to wait at every second for the tzeva adom (red alert) siren to go off in warning of a kassam rocket.
A few minutes after leaving sderot, the bus let me off outside kibbutz Sa'ad, and I did immeaditely notice how I could easily see Gaza on the horizon, but I still felt safe being on Sa'ad, even having never been there before.
David met me at the gate (unlike En Zurim and Massuot Yitzhak, whose gates barely exist, Sa'ad has an operational fence and gate surrounding the kibbutz due to the proximity to Gaza), and we immediately went to say hello to Yael at her family's home and do a little catching up. Before shabbat, David borrowed a car and we went on a grand tour of Sa'ad's fields which seem to stretch on endlessly, at the end of which we even got to have have some clementines that hadn't been harvested.
We then went back to David's room to get ready for Shabbat, and soon departed for tefillot in the kibbutz synagogue, which reminded me of the one at En Zurim, except that Saad's was muxh larger (being a larger kibbutz), has a more liberal women's section (on the sides of the mens section instead of upstairs, and is slightly more beautiful. Tefillot were conducted in white I feel is typical kibbutz style, quickly but without sacrificing the feeling or the necessary singing of tefillot such as Yedid Nefesh, L'cha Dodi or Adon Olam.
After tefillot we attended a short shiur, and then went to the Shlomi family, who are David's adopted family on Kibbutz, for Shabbat dinner. (at this point I should mention that this weekend was a great opportunity to practice my Hebrew speaking. While my Hebrew comprehension is close to perfect, and my speaking is relatively good for an american, I realized that it could still use a decent amount of improvement). We had a very nice dinner with good food and good conversation. Ofer Shlomi comes from a yemenite family,which explains his meticulous Hebrew pronunciation, and he and his wife Tzafchi have 7 children and three granchildren, despite only being about my parents' age. After dinner, Yael came over for dessert, and all of us hung out and chatted for a while. David and I went to bed relatively early since i was still getting over jetlag, and I managed to wake up in time for Shacharit the next morning at 8:30.
Shacharit was pretty quick, just as on En Zurim, and tefillot were over by 10:15. After musaf, Ofer gave a fascinating shiur about the birth of Moshe, and we went back to the Shlomis following the shiur for kiddush. David, Yael and I ate lunch on Shabbat with another family that he had become close with, and had another great time. In typical kibbutz/Israeli style (although not everyone goes all the time), David and I ran across the walk to the Beit Knesset for mincha, and were back at the lunch table in about 15 minutes. In the afternoon we relaxed and hung out with some of the kids, while also getting to see the Kibbutz school and petting zoo. As Yael had told us last year, it was easy to see that the entire school had been covered with an extra overhang that the government provided to stop kassam rockets from hitting the schools. This step was very sad for the kibbutz as a constant reminder of the situation, but it was in the end necessary in case of an attack.
We relaxed for the rest of shabbat, and after maariv, David, Yael and I chilled at her house and in his room, and watched a movie. Later that night, David's roommate Eli returned from the army for the night, and I got to meet him and hear about his experiences in the paratroopers.
On Sunday morning, I decided to be crazy and wake up for a 6 am Shacharit, which was pretty well attended. Around 7, David and I walked over to the Chadar ochel, where I made a quick sandwich and ran out to the gate. Although I unfortunately missed the one bus per day which goes directly to Jerusalem, a taxi pulled up a little later and agreed to take me there for a reasonable rate.
Later that day, after dropping off my bags, I took a leisurely walk downtown, and strolled around ben yehuda, took a side trip to meah shearim, and had a late lunch at Pinati.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Well, even though the changes I've noticed haven't come directly from God, I figured this would be a good place to talk about all of the changes I noticed since I last left Israel, and the quote, from weekday shacharit, is fitting since after all, this is Israel. Some of them are pretty minor, but after living here for almost a year and then coming back 7 months later. Here's a quick run through:
-The new kvish 9 is open at the entrance of Jerusalem, which goes directly from the main Road to Ramot and Har Tzofim.
-No more jaywalking from Beit Nativ to Supersol...the finished the construction across the street, and now there's big barriers there to prevent that.
-The Beitza Ayin (ask anyone from the Conservative Yeshiva) delivery motorcycle now has a big egg on top.
-Remember that old, run down restaurant on King George south of Hillel; it's now being turned into a new Cuppa Joe (Kosher, of course).
-The first stage of the Mamilla project is open (directly across from the Jaffa Gate) and includes a collection of upscale shops and cafes.
-There's more traffic than ever.
-Remember the 'museum of taxes?' ein od! That whole block is currently a mess, and it and the former palace hotel (where mishehu larutz ito was filmed) is now being turned into a lucury hotel/condo complex.
-The Hurva synagogue (where the commerative arch used to be in to Jewish quarter) is a long way into its reconstruction, and the exterior shell is almost built.
(addendum)-you may remember the block at the top of Ben Yehuda which was open for cars...that's no longer, since the municipality decided to permanently close this and a few other streets surrounding Ben-Yehuda to cars and add to the pedestrian mall. right nown, the area is a mess, bu when the changover is complete, downtown shouls be even more pedestrian friendly.
Well that's it for now. After spending last night with the Moshe's in Talpit, I'm going to head to Kibbutz Sa'ad to visit friends for Shabbat, which should be lots of fun.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I figured that this was a perfect metaphor for my approaching trip, even though my journey and relationship with israel is very different from Cabra's. However, this trip - which is unfortunately, just back and forth - allows me to reflect on my feelings for Israel, after not being there for 7 months, and trying to figure out what is home for me. Although I am very happy here at JTS and Columbia, having just successfully completed my first semester, there is a special, hard to explain pull that Israel has, and which makes me so excited to be going back home, even if its just 'back and forth' for now. While I can't predict exactly what I'll be doing in Israel, my plans include a shabbat on Kibbutz Sa'ad, a trip with the Jewish Agency to look at options for aliyah (AFTER I graduate college), some time with the Moshe family and other friends, and some quality time at the CY...and of course, some good Shwarma!
I hope to restart this blog at some point when I'm in Israel or upon my return, and reflect on my experiences over the next few weeks!
To quote another song lyric, ירושלים, הנה אני בא!
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Now back to a week ago Sunday (May 20).I woke up in the morning at 5:40 and davened Shacharit with the kibbutz for the last time. I spent most of the day doing some last-minute packing, stopping for a good fleiching lunch around noon. Around 3 in the afternoon we loaded the suitcase that we wouldn't need onto a truck to put them in storage for the next week. In the evening, we had a party to say goodbye to all of the people that we had come in contact with while on kibbutz, specifically our bosses and adopted families. We came up group by group to make presentations, and at the end we even sang a song that my friend Abi had written, in Hebrew for the occasion. The number of people who came to the party truly showed that we had left a mark on the kibbutz, as well as how much our time there meant to us. Adter we said our final goodbyes to everyone we had our last barbecue and bonfire, as we did very often while living on kibbutz. After we finished eating, we sat as an entire group around the fire and for over an hour shared memories of our time on kibbutz. After the program ended, the five of us who lived in caravan nine set to work cleaning the caravan, and I finally got to bed, extremely exhausted, around 1 in the morning. On Monday, after eating a light breakfast, our group gathered for an extremely emotional last shaharait service on kibbutz, after which we cleared our our caravans, turned in our keys, and said goodbye to kibbutz. We then headed for Jerusalem and arrived shortly before noon. We got our room keys (I was with Avram, in his old room with a cute little balcony looking up King George Street) and had a little, much needed relaxing time before lunch. After lunch, I was able to run by the Yeshiva and join in for mincha; afterwards we went down to one of the seminar rooms in the basement and sat for a while to fill out written evaluations about the year. After the evaluations were over with, we all went into the auditorium and were privileged to enjoy a performance of 'The complete works of William Shakespeare: Abridged', which was initiated and performed entirely by a group of four nativers, who were extremely funny and entertaining. Dinner followed, which was an extremely unsatisfying and gross dairy meal, which I rectified by going across the street to Supersol and buying some packaged food. The evening ended with a Nativ-wide talent show, which was a nice way to begin to end the year. After the talent show was over, I took a relatively early night in order to prepare for the tikkun leil Shavuot the following night, when I would stay up studying all night and into the next morning. On Tuesday (erev shavuot), we had a free day, which I feel I ended up spending pretty well I slept in a bit in the morning and went to the 8 AM minyan across the street at the Great Synagogue, after which I went back to Beit Nativ and ran into a few friends at breakfast, who had also happened to wake up early, so a little bit later my friend Phil and I headed out up King George Street to do some errands, starting in my favourite shopping district of מאה שערים. We went into a few different stores, and got a few small gifts, and more importantly Phil bought himself a beautiful new Talit. After finishing up there, we headed downtown and I stopped at a shoe store and got myself a new pair of Naot. After that, I headed back towards Beit Nativ, but never really made it back to my room for quite a while... As I got back, I heard that the Yeshiva was open and that a few of my friends were hanging out/doing some work in there. I headed down and spent the next few hours, with a short break to go to supersol and get some bourekas for lunch, hearing some of my friends' ideas for the study sessions they would be running (much) later that night, and doing some learning of my own. Around 2:00, I finally (still temporarily) left the Yeshiva and headed back to my room, where I relaxed and got in a short nap. Around 4PM, an idea popped into my mind to take advantage of it being erev Yom Tov and head to the Mikvah for the last time for a while. So I gathered 7 shekalim and a towel, and walked down the 4 blocks the neighbourhood mikvah, and did my dipping. After I returned to Beit Nativ, I had some time to get ready for Yom Tov, and shortly before it was time to shower, I went down to the courtyard, where the kitchen staff had put together a treat of pareve pita pizza for us. We davened that evening at Moreshet Yisrael, which was followed by a pleasant, but not so tasty Chag meal.
As is traditional on Shavuot, I spent the rest of the nriight (from 9:30 PM to 4 AM), in a combination of lectures, discussion-based sessions, and chevruta. Since I had about an hour from the end of dinner to the beginning of the first session, I sat down with a few friends to study the first few chapters of the book of Ezekiel, which was quite fascinating. After that, I went to two formal sessions, the first taught by Rabbi Shmuel Lewis, Rosh Yeshiva of the Conservative Yeshiva about the juxtaposition between the concepts כבוד התורה (honouring the Torah) and כבוד הבריות (human dignity). In the second session, taught entirely in Hebrew by Juan Mejia, a third year JTS rabbinical student, we examined a number of teshuvot written by different rabbis regarding Conversos during and after the Spanish inquisition on a variety of religious issues such a marriage and hows to try to continue to observe Jewish practice. It was already 1 AM after these two sessions were over, and I headed down to the Yeshiva to study some Talmud with a few friends for the next hour. At 2 am, we began a round robin of sessions led by friends of mine for Nativ. The first session I went to was lead by my friend Sarah and talked about Heschel and revelation. After a cheesecake and ice cream break, I went to a second session led by Mendy, about the Rabbis' view of private property.
At 4, after running to my room and grabbing my Tallit and siddur, I headed down Agron street joined by all of Nativ, the rest of the Fuchsberg centre, and the entire city of Jerusalem to the kotel to daven shacharit at the earliest possible time. We held a mixed davening with a few hundred Conservative/Masorti Jews and others at the Southern (Robinson's Arch) section of the kotel, where I became a Bar Mitzvah 6 years earlier. While the idea and location of the service were nice, the tefillot themselves were, in many people's words, pretty awful. Although we started davening shortly before 5, between a half hour P'sukei D'zimra and 40 minute Hallel, the service was way too long and didn't finish until after 8, which was a pretty long davening considering that I had been awake for over 25 hours at that polint. It seemed like a long 20 minute walk back to Beit Nativ, where I crashed into bed and slept until about 12:30. In the afternoon, I walked down to Talpiot and had a very enjoyable and delicious dairy lunch. Around 5, I walked back to Beit Nativ where we davened mincha, had a light dinner and ended chag. fter chag was over, I spent a few hours filling out my hebrew placement exam for next year at JTS.
Thursday morning began with tefillot as a group, and after breakfast we had a few sessions to think about our futures post-Nativ. They began with Rabbi Paul Freedman, past Director of USY, talking about Project Reconnect, and continued with greetings by Rabbi Jim Lebeau, director of the Fuchsberg centre, and Rabbi Gail Diamond of the Conservative Yeshiva. We then heard from two representatives speak to us about the possibility of Aliyah. We had a nice three hour break in the middle of the day, and I used it to go shopping again in Meah Shearim, this time with my friend Jacob, and then a delicious final lunch at Pinati. In the afternoon, our staff put a lot of effort into a program where they turned the whole lower level of the Fuchsberg Centre into a 'museum ofmNativ', where each room was set up to remind us of a different part of our year. We were given a journal with pages to guide us through the museum, and plenty of time to record our memories of the year.
That evening, my friend Jacob, who is studying at a Yeshiva for the summer, came over to visit. After dinner, we hung out at Beit Nativ for a while, and after davening Ma'ariv, we went downtown to Ben Yehuda along with Shosh and Alana. I got a shawarma, and we hung out for a while, at one point meting up with our friends Penina, Judith and Mike.
On Friday I woke up early like I used to in the fall, davened at Yeshurun, and around 8:30, headed out with Avram to volunteer at Hazon Yeshaya one last time. After peeling potatoes for a few hours, we moved on, and headed over to the shuk to pick up a few gifts. We went for lunch at a restaurant a few blocks away called Sima, where Avram and I both had steak in a pita.. delicious!
After relaxing for a few hours, I got a phone cal and headed down to the Yeshiva for a great way to start our final shabbat together, studying Parashat Hashavua. I then had a very short amount of time to quickly get ready for Shabbat, but I did make it on time. we davened mincha, kabbalat shabbat, and Ma'ariv together, as a group, after which we sat down for our final shabbat dinner. The meal ended with a few traditional zemirot, a beautiful d'var torah reflecting on our year by Nehama, and Birkat Hamazon.
A little later, we held our final Nativ-a-Tish of the year. A tish is a hassidic celebration where all of the faithful sit, eat and drink with the Rebbe. At a Nativ-a-Tish, all of us sit around a table headed by one of our Madrichim and go around the room, each person choosing a song for all of us to sing. Besides for the wonderful singing, the tishes arre always accompanied by treats from the Marzipan bakery and plenty of (non-alcoholic) drink.
On shabbat morning, I walked down for the last time to daven at Yedidya. It was a wonderful davening, which included a bat mitzvah celebration, which meant that we got to hear a d'var torah, and separate mens and women's torah readings were held. I was honoureday b with the fourth aliyah, as the parsha, the longest in the torah, was expertly chanted by two teenagers. After the haftarah, we heard another d'var torah as we waited for the womento finish their leining. Musaf, one of the most beautiful I have ever heard, was led by my friend Avram's high holiday cantor, and was followed by a special kiddush. I made it back to Beit Nativ in time for a relaxed Shabbat lunch, although I wasn't too hungry after the kiddush. In between reading the copy of Ma'ariv I had bought the day before, I had a meeting with Yossi to discuss my thoughts on the year which had just flown by and my thoughts for the future. Before mincha we had a session as a kibbutz group about the decisions we will have to make next year rearding living Jewishly on campus. Although I will be at list next year and not all of the issues will apply, many of them will and we had a very serious and deep discussion about how to confront them. After the session, we all davened Mincha together, and I read two of the Aliyot. Although the food wasn't so tasty at seudah shlishit, the beautiful singing that we had at the end of the meal definitely made up for it. We ended shabbat with Ma'ariv and a beautiful carlebach havdalah led by my friend Shayna, whose image, with all of us circling the entire shul, will hopefully remain with me for a long time. Motzei Shabbat, I took up Josh on his offer to go with a bunch of our friends to Shawarma Hashamen, a stand about a 40 minute walk from the centre of town in San Simon, which he claims was the best shawarma ever. Although the meal was relatively expensive at 29 shekalim, it was definitely a very good shawarma, and I finished both minew and part of a friend's. This made for a very long walk back, between the full stomachs we all had and the uphill grade. When I got back around 11, I just about went straight to bed.
Sunday morning began with our last davening as a full group, after which we had a session with Yossi. It was a serious but meaningful one as we discussed how we would feel returning home after such a life-changing year in Israel, and how we will have changed when we return. We then had a break for a few hours and I walked to the old city with Nehama. I helped her pick out some gifts for her family and friends, we had lunch (falafel for her, shawarma for me), and I visited the kotel for the last time. It was getting late, so Nehama convinced me to take a cab with her and we made it back to Beit Nativ. Before the next session, a group of the Nativ Yeshiva students walked down the Yeshiva, joined them for mincha, which was led by Sarah in honour of her birthday, and then made a presentation, thanking the Yeshiva and presenting a set of עין יעקב. We then had one of our final session as a a kibbutz group, which we spent making and then sharing different kinds of creative pieces to capture the year. While people used a variety of different mediums, I chose to write a short poem in Hebrew, since it's much easier to rhyme than in English. For our final program of the day, we all went down to the auditorium as Yossi gave us his 'final words of wisdom.' He spoke very beautifully and passionately about the need to be strong Jewishly whether we return to North America or make Aliyah eventually. Another important point he made was that the North American Jewish community is too focused on 'leadership,' and really has nobody to follow the leaders. He therefore said that he would be just as happy if many of us would become committed, observant laypeople and rise strong Jewish families. On our way out from this moving session, we received our yearbooks and various other pieces of Nativ clothing. I decided to take a relatively evening for my last night in Israel, and went to have my last meal at Burgers bar (for a while, at least) with Avram, before stopping at Supersol for last time.
Moday was spent mostly with goodbyes and saying להתראות (see you soon). I ended up waking up pretty early, and just in time to daven shacharit at the Conservative Yeshiva one last time. I was aked to lead p'sukei d'zimra, and Yakov Hadesh, a first year JTS cantorial student, led a beautful shacharit. Around 10 in the morning, our kibbutz group left beit nativ and walked together to the Jerusalem theatre, where we held our final banquet. It was a very bitersweet occasion, as Yossi, Mike and Yael, gave us final words, we presented gifts to them, and laughed and cried. I did make it back from the banquet just in time to join the Yeshiva for my(actual) final davening of Mincha there (for now...). In the late afternoon, we had our actual final session with all of Nativ. I had to fight to hold back tears as David Keren, Nahum, and Yossi spoke, the Kehilla 1 a capella group performed, and we viewed a slideshow of our year in review. After a dessert reception, it was time to load the truck with our bags, and head to the airport as we really had to say להתראות to Israel...
Thank you so much for following a long with my adventures over the past nine moths. I can't wait to announce when I return to Israel next.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
It is so hard to think that tomorrow I will be leaving this beautiful place where I have lived, worked, and been a part of for the past three and a half months. For now I’ll reflect just on the past week, which was pretty packed with different exciting events, as well as time to say goodbye to our work and the kibbutz.
This past Tuesday was Nativ’s annual Yom Sport, where the three different Nativ tracks got to have fun outside in the sun while having a maccabiah like competition. The event took place in the city of
The next morning, davening was at as usual, but included the Shabat פסוקי דזמרא, Hallel, and other additional prayers. We then had our second to last day of work in the fields. We drove out to the חווה (ranch) near
For our final day of work, we spent the first part stacking and putting away sprinklers and other irrigation equpment, since at this point of the year most of the crops switch over to drip irrigation. After taking a break, I ended the day spraying weed-killer next to one of the carrot fields. After a sad final lunch, our boss, Hanan, sat us down and gave us an emotional final talk, as well as a t-shirt and sweatshirt from the Moshav. I spent most of the afternoon packing, and was able to make a good deal of progress by the end of the day. Shortly after I returned from work, I had a great plesant surprise and got a knock on the door, which turned out to be one of the Gabbaim from the Kibbutz, asking if I could read the whole Parasha that shabbat. Although I only had less than two days to prepare, I agreed to do so, and immediately got to work learning it.
On Friday, after waking up for Shacharit as usual (since it was Rosh Chodesh, I got to read Torah, which went well), I went back to bed for a little while and relaxed for most of the morning. After lunch, I took a tiyul to Ashkelon with my friend Nehama, with the task of buying gits for our kibbutz families. In one of the malls there, we found a gift store, and I picked out a nice ברכת הבית for them. We got back to kibbutz around 3, and I spent most of the rest of the afternoon practising the Torah reading. After getting ready for Shabbat, our entire group came together outside our caravans on the grass with Mincha, Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, which was truly a beautiful davening. I then had dinner in the Chadar Ochel with about half of our group, and later on that night had an oneg in honour of Shoshana's birthday.
The next morning, we davened with the kibbutz, and I had the honour of reading the entire Parashat Bamidbar. Although I did mess up a bit towards the end, I was still overwhelmed when I finished at how many people came up to me to wish a Yasher Koach. As one of the kibbutz members remarked to me Sunday morning, it was definitely an experience that I should keep with me forever. After musaf, Abbie and I ate with the Slaters, our host family, for the last time, and we had a very nice meal, conversation and D'var Torah. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I spent the bulk of the afternoon outside on the grass, reading, having a conversation with my madricha Yael, and having a chevruta with Josh to study Akdamut. At 6 in the evening, we davened mincha, had parashat hashavua, and ate a nice seudah shlishit, with some beautiful singing afterwards. A little later, we ended Shabbat with Maariv and Havdalah.
Monday, May 14, 2007
After a busy week on Tiyul, it felt quite good to have a restful, quiet and productive (finishing The Life of Pi) Shabbat, despite having so few people here on kibbutz. While we had a very empty table in the Chadar Ochel for meals, it was a nice Shabbat because I again took advantage of the kibbutz’s Shabbat afternoon shiur series in Hebrew, which I was able to understand pretty well. After Shabbat ended, the joyous holiday of Lag Ba’Omer, celebrating the end of the plague which struck Rabbi Akiva’s students at this time of year 2000 years ago and the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Over the next day , we engaged in many of the traditional activities of the day such as making a bonfire Motzei Shabbat and observing the bonfires set up in almost every backyard in the neighborhood of Gush Katif refugees adjacent to the kibbutz. The next day after work, I went with a few friends in one of the kibbutz tractors to collect wood in one of the orchards, and in the evening we had a barbecue and another bonfire. My friend Josh Goldberg even came back from Mount Meron, the home of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s grave and celebrations which attract close to a quarter of a million people, with a special Lag B’omer haircut!
Monday was our final Yom Nativ, during which we had study sessions about Lag Baomer and Yom Yerushalayim. That night, four of us made the short trip in to Ashkelon along with our madrich Mike, to have an affordable by delicious dinner at a skewer restaraunt he had been to there. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we were back at work as usual, though to our luck, we were met by a scorching heat wave. On Wednesday, we made a decision to begin work half an hour early at , and were able to finish at 12, in time to come back to kibbutz and eat lunch in the Chadar Ochel.
On Thursday after work, we had just a few short hours to shower and relax before boarding a bus that would take us to
יחד לב אל לב נפתח בתקוה לאהבה
Together, heart to heart, we will open up in hope and love
This phrase, taken from the popular song by Gaya, perfectly reflects the amazing feeling one experienced while attending the MASA Gala event this past Thusday evening. Not only was it an amazing feeling of אחדות, togetherness, to come together with over five thousand Jewish young adults on long term Israel programs, but this feeling was intensified by the אהבה, the love that was expressed for the city of Jerusalem on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its reunification, for our captured soldiers, and the entire country of Israel. The even began with a carnival in the חוצות היוצר area just outside the old city, which featured Israeli crafts for sale, performances, food, and an opportunity to mingle with friends, new and old, from the many different MASA programs. As the sun began to set, the gathering moved to the Sultan's pool amphitheatre for a multimedia extravaganza celebrating MASA's third year and the City of
The article pretty much sums up the evening, although I of course had to give it a slightly more positive review that my own personal opinion. Overall, I though the program part of the event was pretty good, especially the videos which featured friends of mine from my program and the video montage of MASA supporters included Rabbi Jerome Epstein, the head of United Synagogue and Rabbi Robert Golub, head of Mercaz USA, proudly representing the Conservative Movement. It was also cool that my friend Abi and I along with many other Nativers ended up sitting in section of the amphitheatre only about 20 feet behind the Prime minister, who did get quite a few boos during his speech since most Israeli's belive that he must tep down. There was also much security, including having to put our bags through x-ray machines, because of the high profile attendees. Although I thought the bands at the end weren’t so great, shortly after I started leaving, I turned around and got to watch an amazing fireworks display. As a final thought, while I was sitting through the ceremony, It was such an amazing feeling to look in front of me and see the Tower of David and old city walls lit up, and realize that just over forty years ago, the Sultans Pool ampitheatre was located in No Man’s land! This feeling that I experienced was the inspiration for the first part of this blog’s title, ‘a city wrapped in light’, which comes from a beautiful song about
After I left the event, I walked back with some friends to Beit Nativ, picked up my bags, and walked a block down
On Friday morning, I woke up and walked over to the Yeshiva for the Shacharit service. After davening, I went across the street to Supersol with my friend Hillel, and picked up a bite to eat for breakfast and a large Friday edition of the מעריב newspaper. Pretty soon afterwards, it was time to board the bus for the Conservative Yeshiva’s closing Shabbaton, which I was privileged to attend along with three other nativers, most of the full year Yeshiva students, and many of my favourite teachers, including Rabbi Joel Roth who came in to visit from JTS in
In the morning, I woke up and had a light snack, after which we were off to tefillot. The davening was all pretty nice, and the Torah service was petty neat, since the reading was done out of a Sephardic scroll. The Haftarah and Musaf were lead by cantorial students who, did beautiful jobs. After the end of Musaf, we had a Kiddush and then a session with Rabbi Joel Roth, which was entitled ‘Why I am a Conservative Jew,’ as he spoke about how he sees the three pillars of our approach to Judaism, the Academic, theological, and Halachic aspects, and how he is able to synthesize critical study with fidelity to Halacha. After the session, we sat down to a nice Shabbat lunch, which was followed again by some nice zemirot. I then had time for a much needed Shabbat nap, and after reading a bit, I slept straight through to the beginning of Mincha. After davening, our Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Lewis, led a session with sources related to the Yeshiva’s motto, ‘Learning for Life’. We then had a treat, and were given a nature walk, where were able to see all of the many types of animal and plant life just within the area of the
After Havdalah, we packed our backs and boarded the bus back to
On Monday, I had a nice day at work to begin our last week on kibbutz. After showering and relaxing for the afternoon, we had a bonfire in the evening with some friends, some on kibbutz and others who had come from Be’er Sheva and further.
Friday, May 04, 2007
After taking a day off last Wednesday to recover from a cold/ sore throat I caught over Yom Haatzmaut, and a day at work painting and doing irrigation work, I was just about ready to head off on my week of fun in
I first got packed for Shabbat and took an extra bag filled with along that Rabbi Bauman graciously agreed to take back to
On Shabbat morning we woke up and walked over to daven at the Ashkenazi shul in Yemin Moshe, where I would go every once in a while during first semester. Tefillot were pretty nice, and started at and were finished by . The shul was packed with an Aish Hatorah group from
We then went back inside for Havdalah, which the patriarch again conducted from memory. The sefardic havdalah has a few differences from the traditional Ashkenazi one I am used to. The major ones are that the service is done seated and usually around a table, and seondly, that the text of their introductory paragraph is totally different. Although I also find the Ashkenazi liturgy to be meaningful, what struck me about the sefardi version is the theme of their prayer, asking God’s blessings of success as we move from the comfort of Shabbat into the unknown of the week to come. Part of it reads:
הַצְלִיחֵנוּ. הַצְלִיחַ דְּרָכֵינוּ. הַצְלִיחַ לִמּוּדֵינוּ.
וּשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה רְוָחָה וְהַצְלָחָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ.
Grant us success, in our journeys and our learning, and send plentiful blessing and success in the work of our hands…
May we all merit having this blessing come true as Shabbat ends and we move into the coming week of creative work.
After these beautiful tefillot, I unfortunately had to rush and pack my stuff up, so I could catch a bus to the tachana mercazit and then another one back to kibbutz. As a nice surprise, I ran into my staff Mike and friend Sarah, and we chatted on the hour bus ride home and walk back to kibbutz. When I got back I quickly unpacked, and then repacked for our weeklong טיול צפון (
We pulled out of Kibbutz around on Sunday morning, after eating and davening, headed in the direction of the Arozolov train station in Tel Aviv, where we stopped to pick up the rest of our group who had spent Shbbat elsewhere. When I went in to the building to use the washroom, I noticed a sign that newspapers were on sale for just 2 ₪ (about 65 cents Canadian), and bought a copy of Maariv. It sure kept me busy on the bus, as it contained information leaked to the press about the Winograd commission report, which as you’ve probably heard, criticizes the government for its handling of the war in
The next morning, we davened Shacharit and had breakfast, and soon we were back on the bus and driving toward kibbutz Yifat, where we visited a living history museum depicting the period of the early kibbutzim and moshavim in Northern Israel. We had a pretty interesting tour, which ended with a lunch which was supposed to recreate the food that the early pioneers ate. The food wasn’t too tasty, but it seemed pretty authentic. After lunch, we got back on the bus and drove north to the area of Meron. I fell asleep, and when I woke up we were in a traffic jam. The reason, as I soon found out was that we were getting close to Meron, home of the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), and the police had already started to prepare for a crowd of a quarter of a million expected in anticipation of Lag Baomer. After a while of driving around and not really getting too far, we finally got off the bus and walked the rest of the way up to the tomb. We spent a few minutes at the gravesite discussing its significance, and then began our hike for the day, another mostly shady one through Nachal Meron and Nachal Amud. The hike was a little harder than the previous day’s especially the steep ascent we had at the end, but thanks to my friends I made it out with a lot of effort and just a few scratches. The hike ended just below the city of
On Tuesday after davening and breakfast we split into two groups, myself choosing the easier hike, and we boarded the bus for the drive to Metulla, a beautiful town which sits right on the border with Lebanon. Before starting our hike, we drove to Mitzpe Dado, and overlook point where we could see both
The next morning there were again two hike options, and because the harder one included rapelling, jumping and swimming, it definitely made sense for me to do the easier one, which was still pretty challenging. We davened shacharit, had breakfast, and then headed off to Nachal Zavitan, the upper part of which would be our hike for the day. This hike was especially challenging for me because at least fifty percent of it wasn’t on a path at all, but rather on rocks, many of them unstable, but I’m glad to say I made through the hike pretty well. Towards the end, we stopped to eat lunch at the site of a pretty beautiful and impressive waterfall. After we finished hike, around , we drove down to the kinneret and spent a few hours at the Luna Gal water park, which I had actually visited with my family on my first trip to
Thursday morning began as usual with Shacharit, and it was a nice surprise to find out that the hotel actually had a sefer Torah. It was pretty neat that it was a sefardi Torah, which is stored in a wooden case instead of a cover. Since I knew the Torah reading, I got to read Torah and it was pretty neat. We then had breakfast, packed, and loaded the buses. Before we left, I made sure to buy a newspaper in Hebrew again, and that day turned out to be a pretty big news day again, as the backlash against the government continued, with a huge rally planned in Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv (which ended up attracting close to 200,000), and the accusing of Azmi Bashara, a former arab member of Knesset, of treason against the state.
We left Haon, and drove through the