December 13, 2013
I requested to write the blog for today because the following experience has been my highlight of IST so far. This morning we got woken up at 8:00am to the perfect beginning of the next chapter of IST. As I lay in bed not wanting to get out, one of my roommates opened the curtain and screamed “OH MY GOSH IT’S SNOWING”, and I don’t think I have ever in my life gotten out of bed so fast. I looked out the foggy window and using my pyjama top, I wiped away the fog to see the most beautiful view of Jerusalem in white.
In the corridor all you could hear was screaming girls more excited than we have ever been. Anyone that thought they could have had a sleep-in had no chance at all because of all the squealing and excitement. We all got dressed really quickly and put all our Poland thermals on. We went to prayers where Rabbi Benji allowed us to concentrate and give more meaning to the bracha of ‘Mashiv Haruach U’morid Hageshem’ which means ‘He who brings the winds and makes the rain fall’ and in our special case, snow. This is a blessing we say to pray for rain in Israel, a country which is constantly desperate for rain. It was so powerful saying this prayer as we looked through the window to our right and saw the power and essence in our blessing falling from the sky.
After Prayers we went to the dining room where we had such a delicious breakfast. At breakfast Rabbi Benji announced that soon we will have a group photo and we will be the first IST group ever to have experienced the beauty of snow together. We gathered all our warm clothes and stepped out into a whole new magical world. Together united, we posed for the photo while snow was covering our faces, hair and bodies. Then the fun really started. We had snow fights, we made snow men, and we ran around, we made snow angels, we slipped MANY times, we sang and danced and we shared an incredible experience. Despite getting major frost bite on our hands, we still carried on making snow balls and throwing them at each other to capture the unforgettable moments by leaving bruises on each other to keep the memory of the amazing day.
We were then given some free time to have hot showers and bubble baths to warm ourselves up and then we met afterwards to have a powerful program. The madrichim Our madrichim put a program together for us, discussing a few dilemmas and having the opportunity to write special letters to people in our IST group, some whom we are close with and others whom we don't get the opportunity of telling them how we feel. The idea of the program was to explore how we respond to various situations that tell us who we really are and this allowed us later in the program to understand that knowing who we are allows us to connect and think about those around us.
Afterwards we had a yummy lunch and after lunch we had the honor of hearing an incredible speaker. Her heroic story inspired every single person in the audience and I literally had no words to describe how amazing it was. Kaye is a member of an organization called One Family which provides constant care and essence of family to talk to, for those who are victims of terror. Kaye found herself in a very near death experience three years ago, where her and her friend were brutally attacked by two Palestinian men. It was evident that due to Kaye's belief in G-d and herself, she survived this tragically frightening event. It was beautiful to hear how Kaye didn't turn her back against Israel and its "unsafe" environment, but rather she expressed how it was Am Yisrael and the place in which lives in, that got her through everything.
The night activities continued with dinner and a movie where we all brought our blankets, ate popcorn and snuggled while watching the movie. I am so excited to wake up tomorrow to the beautiful snow in Jerusalem. IST so far has just been the most unbelievable experience and I just hope that I can keep capturing every special moment as it comes.