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.