Sadly, our trip has come to an end. We ended the trip with havdalah, many hugs, a few tears and plenty of singing. What an amazing time. Ill try to wrap up the last few days.
Friday - Off to BINA secular yeshiva in the Florentina neighborhood. We studied a bit of Talmud together and then took a tour of the neighborhood which is heavily populated by migrant workers and refugees from Northern Africa. Meanwhile, the kids took a tour of Jaffa.
We met as families for tours of the Carmel shuk, Nachalat Binyamin artist market and Shenken street. Most families opted to spend the majority of their time in the opulent artist market and many presents were purchased.
From there, we walked to Independence Hall, which was originally the house of Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv. This is
the site from which David Ben Gurion read the declaration of independence and Israel was born. We learned all about the events leading up to that fateful moment. The cherry on top came from Etana Volpe, who presented her paper on Tel Aviv from the very spot where the declaration of independence had been made.
Tired as could be, we dragged ourselves back to the hotel for some good pre-shabbat swimming.
We joined our friends from Beit Tefilah for shabbat services. As our group was too big for their hall, the hotel gave them a banquent room and we celebrated shabbat together there. One member of our group, Andy Charmatz, even sat in with the group to play mandolin.
Following services, we had shabbat dinner at the hotel. The dinner spread was even more opulent and extravegant than the breakfast spreads to which we have become accustomed. There were no less than 8 separate food areas and 3 desserts ones. We all ate waaaay too much.
Shabbat marked our final day of the trip. With Israeli schools out, the beaches and streets were jam packed with Jews, Muslims and tourists all playing together side by side. Our families partook in various activities, ranging from trips to the beach and pool to the Museum of the Diaspora, the Palmach museum etc. Most of my family headed to Neve Tzedek and the Gutman museum before joining for lunch. Meanwhile, I took my daughter Sami to the beach and then met the rest for lunch.
Having swam and eaten our way through shabbat, we joined at 6pm for a final session of sharing and reflection. I wish I could share with you all of the thoughts and emotions communicated. Needless to say, the group had grown very close together and had developed a deep connection with the land and people visited.
We joined for one last extravagent dinner before celebrating havdalah and a short song session together. We hugged goodbye and started to plan reunions back home. Members of our group were off in all directions, including many who were making additional sojourns within Israel.
My family had our first breakfast alone this morning in 2 weeks. I have to say, it was pretty lonely! Thankfully, we ran into the Buchler family at the pool. We then headed off to Jerusalem where I will be continuing at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
I hope you have enjoyed the pictures and brief updates. I will try to post more pictures as I go through the many which I took. Unfortunately, I dont have pictures of perhaps the most beautiful moment, when we celebrated the bnai mitzvah together of our 7 students. I look forward to getting pictures of that event and others from members of our group.
Thanks for following the blog. Perhaps through this experience, you have gained a desire to join us in 2014! Hopefully so.
L’Shalom from Jerusalem,