Day 27 - Shabbat Hospitality in Raanana (Netzach)
Waking up on Saturday morning, for me was in a home environment that I was familiar with, but this wasn’t the case for most. See this weekend was a very different yet exciting experience for everyone, as the whole of IST were split into our buses and shipped off to different cities around Israel where we were hosted by a family living in the area over Shabbat. Luckily my bus was placed in Ra’anana, a place I can call home. The day prior was an interesting one, as everyone headed home to their designated houses, they were struck with sense of a familiarity as they were united with their kind. South Africans. I would imagine that 75% of people who were picked up were picked up by South African parents, all who had previously made Aliyah however the 25% didn’t just have Israelis, the 25% as well as the 75% had parents who had made Aliyah, whether they were from England, America or France, we all had something in common, a love for Israel. Later that night, many familiar faces were seen at Shule, from family to family, everyone knew each other and it became clear to us that a life we had been living for weeks now was such a normal routine for them. A walk to Shule and a walk home, even in the pouring rain, eventful. On the way home my dad decided we should head straight to dinner, a wise decision. There we were met with friends, Milzy, Shizzy, Lisa and Zoe and their English host family who had only made Aliyah 6 months prior. There they met my dad with his beautiful grey beard, my step mum and my 3 little hyperactive brothers. The host family along with their kids and us did their usual Shabbos, singing every song at least 3 times because you know, we are Jewish. So I just went along with it but much to my amusement the girls were very much confused but due to my dad, I very much understood the way it goes. Shabbos vibes. After Shabbos the IST gang that were there fetched a couple other kids from different families and headed to Shule for a ‘Tish’. This ‘Tish’ was a very friendly roll call and a chat before leaving 20 minutes later to go home. Back to waking up, we had no obligation to go to Shule in the morning however we did have to come to Shule for lunch and a panel from soldiers and religious girls doing national service. Meet time 10 am, wake up time 9:50. Rush hour. Indeed I did forget I had to pick up the girls for this lunch and talk. Lunch was yummy, there was fish and challah, it was beautiful, being me I didn’t eat the rest but I’m sure it was great as well. I think there were 7 soldiers that spoke to us. Each one spoke to us about their individual role in the army and what they were doing at the moment, it was educational and I felt as if we could relate to them as again, half were South African and the other half were also English speaking immigrants. It was really enjoyable hearing about the different jobs they had and the different courses they had done. We heard from commanders of first years, to commanders of recruits, we heard from medics and in the one womans case being the first female head medic in her battalion. It was interesting seeing as how all these Jews from the diaspora could relate to the Israeli’s just by putting on a uniform, each soldier respected by one another despite their background. After this there was a range of activities that could be done, optional activities but activities nonetheless. We could play football, go for a walk, go to peoples houses or we could just go home and sleep. Being with my family I chose to go home and spend time with my family. It was great, I played chess with my little brothers, played card games with the youngest of the three and dozed off on the couch for a short while before being woken up by tramples of little feet herding over my body. Seudah Shlishit meeting time 4:20. I was one of the first there, arriving at 4:25 when everyone had been running late from their individual activities. 5 pm arrival, we benched and did havdallah. Everyone rushed home to go pack and shower to leave. We all thanked our amazing host families for their hospitality and headed off to the buses. I said bye to my family, hopefully not for the last time this trip and I re-joined my friends on the bus. Off to the Ramat Aviv mall, to go shopping and get some well deserved sushi for surviving the streets of Ra’anana and some well deserved time off. An hour and a half later and were off to the Ruth Daniel Hotel to sleep.