December 28, 2013
After a delicious breakfast in the amazing Olive Tree Hotel, we went to the Wizo kindergarten, Gan Ironi in Kiriat Yovel, with huge smiles on our faces ready to see the kids. After a quick briefing of the program and what they do, we went in to play with the kids and they were very sweet. We then went down and they gave us challah as we had Kabbalat Shabbat with the kids and they sang along to all the Shabbat songs. There was also a lady who told a shabbat story with some animal toys and a baby doll, it was very cute. The whole thing was a very fun and uplifting experience!
After this we made our way to Machane Yehudah. We got to walk around and have lunch and some free time, and we each got a name to buy a present for someone for Shabbat, which I thought was really nice. There was also a woman giving out free Shabbat candles, so I thought I'd take some and use them tonight. Just a quick note: its not such a great idea to go to Machane Yehudah right before Shabbat, its crazier than boxing day sales in the city.
So then we went back to the hotel to get ready for our last Shabbat in Israel, emotional I know. On the way to go and get dressed, Miriam gave all the girls beautiful flowers which we all loved! After getting all dressed up and ready to go out to have Shabbat at the Kotel, the girls went to light candles and then made our way on the bus (sunset hadnt come yet, and the boys had to walk) to the Kotel.
When we got there, we went to do Kabbalat Shabbat. As we walked down to the Kotel, it actually looked like a mosh pit. Literally hundreds of people dancing at the Kotel, singing Shabbat songs. The girls of the group got into one big circle, and people started joining in. Eventually, pretty much the whole of the womens section were singing and dancing in one massive cirlce, it was really incredible. People from all over the world, America, Brazil, there were even Israeli soldiers dancing with us! We said Kabbalat Shabbat all together, had a few minutes to individually go to the Kotel, then we met up to go to dinner.
We went to one of the buildings in the old city and had dinner, with a great ruach session of course, and then started a tisch. Rabbi Benji suddenly told us that we were moving because we wanted it to be darker and more special, this was the last Shabbat of IST! So we walked about 5 minutes to this building and had a tisch in the dark, it was almost pitch black, and all you could hear was the beautiful voices of over 100 people singing together. So many people talked and they talked so beautifully, mostly about how we will bring IST home with us, and this really made us all think.
After our incredible tisch, we had a 25 minute walk back to the hotel and we went to bed, ready for the last Shabbat day of IST and of 2013.
Shabbat on IST is something I and many others will truly miss and it's been an amazing experience!