Final Shabbos in Jerusalem by Jade Shubitz

January 2, 2015


Another crazy Shabbat was underway! Once again we were exposed to the busy hustle and bustle of the Machane Yehudah Shuk, buying our last minute gummy lollies and dried fruit.  Every Shabbat has been unique and special throughout this trip, with a sense of unity resonating throughout the air. But this Shabbat there was a different type of unity. Before heading out on our Machane Yehudah adventures, we were given a “shabbuddy”, also known as a mystery Moses. Each of us were given a different student’s name and it was up to us to buy a special present for that person. This little and quite simplistic activity, exerted an enormous amount of kindness and friendliness throughout the whole group, allowing students who may not have spoken to other people, open their hearts. Everyone was left feeling loved as we began our final Shabbat together.


The final Kabbalat Shabbat took place at the kotel. As we all descended the steps overlooking the kotel for our final Shabbat every person could feel a palpable sense of holiness within the air. It was only five weeks ago that half of us were walking to the kotel blind folded and now we were walking, although in the same place, as completely transformed beings walking in a place we now call home. Throughout Shabbat it kept being reiterated to us how Shabbat is a gift as it gives a moment in space and time where every single individual stands still enabling us to invest and appreciate everyone and everything around us.  Upon arriving at the Kotel we were met with a sea of olive green uniforms. We joined hundreds of Israeli soldiers arm-in-arm and sang together welcoming in this beautiful Shabbat. It wasn’t the golden awe inspiring kotel that took our breath away, but rather the amalgamation of thousands of people from so many diverse and differing backgrounds dancing together for one purpose. There is a song that goes “Jews all over the world, come together as one, keeping shabbas while shabbas keep us until the moschiach comes” which accurately describes the atmosphere of the kotel that was before us. It was the most beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat I have ever been apart of and one I will never forget.


Dinner was filled with a lot of our past mads, sherut girls and hesder boys. It was one big IST Mishpacha doing what we do best, eating and singing as one.  Following dinner was our final tisch as the IST family. It was filled with inspirational singing interspersed by words of Torah, experience, and appreciation which all created that shabbas vibe we will sorely miss.


After davening on shabbas morning, Miriam shared with us a personal story about a miracle that happened to her which allowed us to recognize the miracles in our lives and hear other people’s stories about their own personal miracles. It was an unexpectedly emotional morning that empowered the rest of our Shabbat to be filled with mini miracles. As shabbat drew to a close, a few students lifted the mood by impersonating /reenacting certain people and moments from the past 6 weeks. We shared a good laugh, reminiscing the “lowest of lows in Gadna” to the “highest of highs in Ramat Rachel buffet”.  Our final Havdalah was filled with a lot of mixed emotions. Sadness, excitement, nerves and strength, but mostly with the light of the havdallah candle ignited light amongst the darkness, reminding us of our journey and our endless growth as Jews.


As Rabbi Jonny said “our task is to see beyond the smokey screen while still in this world, to see the meaning behind the madness, to believe that what happens beyond our control is for our ultimate good. When we imbue ourselves with this faith, then we taste Gan Eden in this world; we live in light amidst the darkness.”


Day 34 in Israel by Emma Greenstein & Tess Meskin