Day 33: Netzach, Israel - Leila Freedman

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After two shabbatot away from each other, we once again had an amazing Netzach Shabbat.

We started it all with Shabbat photos with an incredible view of the Jerusalem mountains as a back drop.  As Shabbat was coming in, we joined the rest of the guests at the Tzoba Hotel for Kabbalat Shabbat. We had a really nice Shabbat dinner, chatting and making the most of the time we had left on IST. After a really long week, it was free time till curfew at 11. Some of us played games, learnt with madrichim, experienced the famous Friday night tish or took the opportunity for a few extra hours of sleep.

I chose to partake in the Tish which turned out to be one of the most incredible and open tishes I have ever been a part of. For the last hour it was a only a small group left, everyone started sharing inspirational stories and messages. Even those who are shy, were involved and openly speaking from the heart.

After around 10 or 11 speakers, we all walked out crying, balling our eyes out - even those unemotional boys joined in. It was the pure emotion that got everyone right where they were vulnerable. Everyone sitting in the lobby, looked at us all crying with curious expressions on their faces. We tried to explain but it was too hard to recreate or even describe the environment and moment again.

Finally a morning to sleep in, what a nice way to wake up. The madrichim, and those interested, woke up for an early Shacharit. The rest of us had a light snack at 10:30, followed by Musaf, an additional prayer on Shabbat. Before lunch we had chaburot, which are small learning groups discussing a particular topic. There were four options, mine was called โ€˜Who do you think you are?โ€™ It was about introspection and improving specific qualifies that are common in adolescent behaviour at school.  It came from an incredible book called โ€˜ืชื™ืงื•ืŸ ื”ืžื™ื“ื•ืชโ€™ (Tikun Humidot) which literally means to fix our characteristics. It goes through individual emotions, discusses them in-depth and explains how to improve on that specific quality. We focussed on jealousy and judging others, as these emotions are a prominent part of the school culture.

Then came lunch, followed by a free afternoon. Again, some people either took the opportunity to sleep, or play games and learn with madrichim. This time we were more awake, so most were either chilling or playing a very violent version of jungle speed in the lobby.

To end off Shabbat, we had a spirit filled seudah shlishit, more food and havdalah.

We quickly got ready and left for the much awaited Saturday night soccer game. Dinner was pizza and salad before entering the stadium. It was so much fun to spend time with Lahava before options started. Once entering the stadium we were met with a loud, busy area filled with drums and chanting. The game was Batar Yerushalim vs. Maccabi Petach Tikvah, with the majority of fans being from Batar Yerushalim. They are known for being roudy, racist and very patriotic to their team. Although the soccer wasnโ€™t the most interesting, the atmosphere was incredible especially when all the IST kids got involved. Most of us were standing in the main supporting area, right in the heart of it all, clapping, chanting and jumping around in support with the die hard fans. The stadium was filled with smoke of all kinds, both inside the main arena and at the back with all the food stands. None of us were used to such a culture of smoking and were all trying to avoid it at al costs, mainly by putting jumpers and scarfs around our mouths and noses. The game ended up with Batar Yerushalim on 1 and Maccabi Petach Tikvah on 0 - a win for the team we all were supporting.

In the end, we had to say good bye to Lahava before going back to hotel to pack for options the next day.

Thanks everyone for an amazing Shabbat - we all canโ€™t wait to make the most of the next week ahead of us.

Day 33, 34, 35: Scuba Diving - Sean Goldring

Day 32: Netzach, Israel - Tahlia Miller