Israel Day 27: Eden Shifroni

The calm of our chilled Friday afternoon had turned into the storm of pre-Shabbat preparations. All of the girls ran around Kibbutz Ein Tzurim excitedly and desperately looking to swap and switch outfits with one another. To add to the girl’s excitement (and boys), Adam Cohen made a surprise appearance at the Kibbutz, accompanied by the return of Rabbi Benji, further setting the buzzing vibe for Shabbat. After we had made sure that we had taken enough photos, the girls proceeded to light candles and the boys started heading to Shule. The beautiful thing about lighting candles with a group of girls this big, is the tangible sense of unity and warmth that fills the room. Many “Shabbat Shaloms” and hugs were exchanged as we made our way to our Shule seats. Omer led a beautiful and meaningful Shule service as we danced and sung together, enjoying our second last Kabbalat Shabbat together as a group in Israel. We were then welcomed to a delicious Shabbat meal by the hospitable community of the Kibbutz, and soon after we were already standing, singing and chanting on our chairs, with a ruach that was very palpable and unique. 
The Madrichim had organised a games night for all of us and all I can say is that it was a real feat to get all 138 exhausted children to focus and participate, but the time came and we had a hilarious array of scenes and acts from both the Madrichim and Chanichim. So then came the time of night where we had the option to either go to sleep, chill, or learn. Sleeping at this time of night sounded really appealing, and some of us were a bit apprehensive to go learn, but we decided against our exhaustion to go and maybe learn something interesting. I went to a discussion led by the Madrichot. I find that inspiration comes to you easiest when you don't search for it and when you least expect it. I didn't expect this discussion about Shmirat Negiah and Tzniut to be so relatable and multifaceted, but I definitely proved myself wrong. Dani so eloquently delved into the complexities of these topics, and presented the many perspectives of them. And like all good discussions and conversations, everyone put in their two cents and went off on tangents about love and self-presentation, and before we knew it, we had been in deep conversation for four hours. By then we had long forgotten our exhaustion and our conversation was only stopped by the curfew. 
After a refreshing sleep, we all woke up bright eyed at a pleasing 10am (if we didn't go to Shacharit) and continued to yet another beautiful Shule service lead by Avichai. We then went our different ways into our family groups and engaged in Chaburot with different Madrichim. I was lucky enough to have mine led by Avichai, in which he spoke really profoundly and shared a beautiful idea. Avichai spoke about the treasures that we each carry inside of us, but don't realise what they are exactly, and that we do. We could be carrying this treasure with us at all times, mentally or spiritually, but not realise its potential. I feel as though with IST coming to an end, with one last week coming up, we need to take these experiences as treasures and realise their full potential. After a delicious lunch and an abundance of free time, in which some of us played the infamous, hilarious card game 'cards against the college', we headed back to the common room for Seudat Shlishit and Havdallah, as we passed around a myriad of cakes and sweets, and listened to a personal story of Miriam's. Somehow, we always find ourselves singing, and before we knew it, the room was shaking with the sound of our voices. Gladdened by the return of Rabbi Benji, we had yet another beautiful Havdallah led by his radiant voice as we came to a close of yet another beautiful Shabbat. It's scary to think that we only have one more Shabbat here in Israel before we head back to Sydney to resume our normal lives. It's frightening to think of the prospect of not being in this incubator of spirituality that is IST, and it's important that we don't forget all that has happened here on this journey. 
After this relaxing and chilled Shabbat, we were all excited to hear that we were heading out to a concert, and with much excitement, we headed out to Yaffo. It was an interesting and unique experience to say the least, and none of us had ever seen anything like it before in Sydney. All of the cast members were very talented and they cleverly intertwined rhythm, melody and humour to create a very entertaining and unique performance piece. We can confidently say that we have experienced and been exposed to a wide variety of Israeli culture. 
With the busy week of options and Eilat water sports heading our way, this coming week is going to fly past really quickly and it's important to take everything in and enjoy it while it lasts.


Israel Day 28-31: Jess Liebovitz

Israel Day 25: Ella Hochberg