December 6, 2014
Most Friday afternoons are spent missioning to the supermarket, buying some last minute Shabbat groceries and cooking a delicious soup to serve at your Friday night table.
But today, our Friday was spent a little differently.
After being in Israel for over two weeks, this unified metropolis connected through Jewish pride and Zionism has deeply connected with a unique place in all of our hearts. This feeling was exemplified and truly became a tangible experience this morning where we were given the opportunity to volunteer at the WIZO preschools in Jerusalem. This transformative experience reformed our year ten students from the ones being lead to the leaders. A hands on experience, allowing them to be the teachers, dance with the students and assist in their pre-Shabbat activities. The students were explicitly confronted to the importance of Jewish education and the contagious loving Jewish energy that permeates this country. This energy was not merely experienced at 10am though. It continued to resonate throughout the day with our next stop: Machane Yehudah (aka: The Shuk). A bustling, loud, crowded market booming with bargainers, tourists, citizens and soldiers. An overwhelming yet comfortable feeling consumed us and never before have any of us felt more content in a setting such as this. Must have been the Jewish energy flying through the air.
One of the many beautiful qualities of Israel is the familial feeling that is shared with almost every single individual on the street. Every father is your father, every mother is your mother and every sibling is your own. We were truly blessed to feel this homeliness on Friday night where all 106 students were billeted out to warm and welcoming families throughout Katamon, Jerusalem. The mere idea of 106 strangers being welcomed by families truly exemplifies what this beautiful land is all about. Every dinner table was a unique experience of it’s own but mine, shared along with Ari Tuch, Keren Lax and Hannah Rosmarin was truly distinct. Ricky Bornstein, along with his loving family welcomed us into their home and showed us the true beauty of Judaism and Shabbat. Many of us walking away with qualities and activities shared at the table that we would one day like to adopt into our own families and homes. Ricky shared with us a short idea from the parsha that deeply connected with our own lives and the society we live in back in Australia. In Parshat Vayishlach, it says that Eisav kissed Ya’akov. Why a kiss? Initially Eisav attempted to bite Ya’akov in attack, however Yaakov’s flesh turned to stone. There is an extremely powerful message that is relevant to all of our lives. Today, our enemies are no longer trying to attack us. Instead they are attacking us with a kiss. Reeling us in to their society, their lives and their values that completely juxtapose that of our own. It is our obstacle and our duty to maintain a strong and everlasting pride with the Jewish people and the beautiful religion that is ours.
Shabbat began with that contagious Jewish energy circling every individual and finished on exactly the same note. The beautiful balcony overlooking Jerusalem brought us all back together for Seudat Shlishit as we sang out Shabbat and entered into the new week.
A trip to vibrant and always exciting Ben Yehuda Street, kicked off the new week with a tremendous amount of exuberance and fun. Whether munching on delicious falafel, watching the array of street performers, searching the stores for something special or just relaxing in the beautiful restaurants, there is simply nothing quite like the spirit of Jerusalem to begin our journey as we embark on what is going to be another unbelievable and experiential week!