Lighting candles for Shabbat is one Mitzvah that truly impacts me in my life. As our tour guide Aidel explained as the girls gathered around the Shabbat candles to light, lighting Shabbat candles allows each women an individual and special time to think, pray, and reflect on anything we desire. I cherish that special time for my own prayers, blessings, and thoughts while my eyes are covered after lighting. All of the girls were able to come together and enjoy this very special moment to bring in Shabbat.
We then anxiously walked over to the Kotel, The Western Wall, and was greeted with the beautiful site that we've all been waiting for. On the girls side we were able to learn new songs, dance, sing, and pray together as one. We were even able to share our enthusiasm with girls from different colleges that are also on Taglit Birthright. As we heard the shouting of prayers and cheering of songs, it was then finally time to be able to go touch the Kotel and have our own personal moments. With my friends by my side, this was an incredible feeling like no other, we all shut our eyes and prayed, having our own personal connection with Hashem.
After a long walk back to the hotel we enjoyed a nice dinner and afterwards we had an awesome activity where we exchanged gifts to our Chanukah Harry (Secret Santa) that we had bought presents for in Tzvat. Then we all spent the rest of the night at a Farbrengen with Rabbi Lipskier, bonding, talking, and creating memories that only started the amazing Shabbat we were going to have. Being able to wake up at 12 was definitely a Shabbat treat.
We had a great lunch and then headed to an interesting activity. We were given a topic of either what has been the most important things that has kept the Jews alive for the past 2000 years or what will keep them alive in the future. We were given different papers that said different things such as: marrying a Jew, being a Zionist, studying the Torah, and more. As suspected, it did bring a lot of heated and intense discussions into the room, but everyone was respectful to each others opinions, and I personally loved hearing different ways of thinking. It allowed different people to talk about different feelings that they would not have before.
We were finally able to get some fresh air and went on a great walk to a park. Laughter definitely filled the air as we played different games. As Shabbat was coming to an end, we had a great opportunity to participate in an amazing activity called "Stomp the Rabbi" where we were able to ask any questions we wanted to to Rabbi Lipskier. He answered all questions across the board and I truly learned a lot from all of the answers. We then prepared for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum that we will be going to tomorrow.
As Shabbat ended, we had a beautiful Havdalah ceremony where we all wrapped our arms around our friends and swayed to the tune. It was really a great way for all of us to end our special day all together. Being able to spend Shabbat with all of my new and great friends on this amazing trip, being able to visit the Kotel, and really every detail made this day so amazing. I will without a doubt remember this Shabbat for the rest of my life!
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