Day 13 Shabbat - Netzach - Maya Goodman & Shayna Yudelman
We learnt from Adam Cohen that on Shabbat we are technically left in a state of ‘boredom’ and therefore it is up to us to invest our all into our Shabbat experience in order to receive the most rewarding outcome. Shabbat has the potential to be a time of reflection and bonding.
Our first Shabbat in Israel definitely lived up to its expectations and set a high standard for the ones to come. Following a memorable Friday evening of singing and connecting, we indulged in a relaxing Shabbat day, which began at 10:15am - a much needed sleep-in after our jam-packed first week in Israel. The day commenced with a beautiful mussaf service, followed by a Dvar Torah by one of our tour guides from Poland, Tsachi. He taught us about the great importance of the bond between a parent and their child. Through the non-fictional story that he shared about a holocaust survivor he had met, named Moshele, we learnt to appreciate the connections and tender moments that we share with our parents.
Next, we had a delicious Shabbat lunch, followed by a tochnit led by our madrichim, which featured a discussion about Israel’s involvement in aiding Syrian refugees. One may think of this as a rather less significant part of our first Israeli Shabbat, however, what made the moment especially distinctive, is what happened once we finished our tochnit. We shared our Shabbat with a large group of families and children from a yeshiva in Israel, as they too, were staying in our hostel in Chispin. One middle-aged, Israeli man happened to be listening to our discussion in our family group. This man, had previously fought in the Israeli army and shared his view on the matter in broken English. He opened our eyes to Israel’s moral foundations and extraordinary kindness towards shown to other nations. This gave us a first hand experience to reflect on and enabled us to connect to Israel and its importance to us as Jewish people. This moment was one of the major highlights of our first Shabbat in Israel and it gave us insight into the boundless connection between all Jews.
We were then allocated a few hours of free time where we played games and enjoyed the relaxing experience of Shabbat. This gave us a chance to clear our minds and reflect on the past week through bonding with our peers. Some of the boys decided to organise a friendly soccer game against the Israeli yeshiva boys who joined us in Chispin. Whilst this may seem rather ordinary, it shed light on a deeper meaning to the purpose of Shabbat. It taught us about the strength of our Judaism and enabled us to connect and interact with Jews from all over the world, over a simple love for sport. This was a truly special moment to witness during our Shabbat, and we are sure it will stick us for a very long time.
During the remaining hours of our free time, each person chose to spend their time differently - whether it was playing games, catching up on sleep or learning with madrichim. We chose to learn with one of our madrichim, Keren. She taught us about the concept of the ‘love of kindness’ from a book written by the Chofetz Chaim. This concept delves into the idea that not only should one perform acts of kindness because it is mitzvah, but rather we should do it through a physical desire and love of being kind to others and doing good deeds. This approach to the idea of kindness will be one of the things we hope to incorporate into our daily lives, continuing when we return to Sydney.
As our free time concluded, we were led through a mincha service, and another remarkable tisch, followed by an address from Robert Goot. He reflected on a holocaust suvivor, Elie Wiesel’s story, which reminded us of our previous week spent in Poland. This allowed us to further appreciate the fact that we have just left behind the horrific history of the Holocaust, and are now able to freely celebrate our Judaism in our homeland, Israel.
Adam Cohen led the Havdallah service, which concluded our first Shabbat in Israel. We sung together side by side, leaving our first Shabbat on a very positive note. But the day was not over yet, we were treated to a fun boat party on the beautiful waters of the Kineret. Here we reunited with our friends on Lehava over a tasty dinner, and exchanged our favourite moments of the past week with each other - some sad, some humorous, but most of pure joy.
The day ended with a beautiful boat ride over the Kineret, with loud music and dancing. We let out our energy and danced together, looking out onto the fading lights of Israel, which reflected over the twinkling water. We believe there was no better way to end the day - dancing and singing together on a boat on the Kineret.
Our first Shabbat in Israel had come to an end, and so had our fun night in the Kineret. Tired, yet happy faces loaded the buses and we headed back to our respective hotels in order to prepare for another exciting week. From our first Israeli Shabbat, we learnt the true impact of Shabbat and it’s underlying purpose - to connect and bond with each other, without the artificiality of electronics, but rather through pure human connection and the genuine bond that we have with our year group.
Maya Goodman and Shayna Yudelman