Even though at this point we’re past Shabbat I’d like to start off by saying Shabbat Shalom. This past Friday we came to Jerusalem and began to celebrate what I think I can say was one of the most unforgettable Shabbat’s that any of us have ever experienced in our lives. We started off in a Kever David (David’s Tomb) where all the girls on the trip took the time to light Shabbos candles and we got to hear about the reasoning behind why the mitzvah of lighting the candles falls upon the women. After lighting the candles and singing some Shabbat songs we took a walk through to old city to finally reach the wall. Within in seconds of coming insight of the wall a feeling came me that I can’t explain. Rabbi and Kuti took the men to one side of the wall and Merav took the women to the other and a Shabbat service that I don’t think anyone expected began. You had groups of men standing all around, all engaged in a different part of the service. Kuti was able to find two more Birthright trips that we joined and we started to pray while dancing in circles and singing at the top of lungs. After we concluded the service we all took a moment to go up to the wall and say a small prayer of our own. Once we were all done one of my friends came up to me and described his feeling at the wall better then I ever could, he said, “When I was at the wall I blacked out, it was only me and G-d. There was no one else around but me and him.” I don’t think I could have used any better words myself. We then took a 45-minute walk back to the hotel and enjoyed a nice Shabbat dinner together.
Saturday rolled around and for the first time this trip we were able to actually sleep past 9AM (which was much needed rest). Everyone then came together for a nice lunch and then some games to get to know each other. The first game we played had to do with all our different memories that we’ve either experienced on this trip itself or just throughout our Jewish lives. If you agreed with the statement that was said you had to get up and run to find another seat before they were all taken, almost like an Israeli version of musical chairs. We then split up into groups and were told that if we were stranded on an island what three things would we bring to remind us of our Jewish heritage. After sharing all our ideas of what three things to bring each group came up with their top three options and then each group shared their things. My group personally came up with bringing a Shofar to be able to blow on the high holidays and possibly to alert someone of where we were. Our second thing was a Star of David to remind us always of our heritage, and finally we all decided we would have to bring someone of the opposite sex that was Jewish of course to make sure that our Jewish lineage didn’t die out.
Shabbos was finally coming to an end and it was time for the Havdalah service, which has always been one of my favorite services to take part in. I used to be involved in an organization called USY and we always had a tradition that at the end of the service everyone gets extremely quiet and listen for the sizzle from the candle as we pour the wine over the flame. Hoping for a long sizzle symbolizing a good week ahead of us. I can say the sizzle that came from the candle was one longer then I had ever heard in all the times of celebrating the Havdalah service. I don’t feel this was only luck but yet had to do with the fact that we were in the holy land and we’ve all truly come together as one big family over the past week. This concluded our Shabbat in Israel and we were off to celebrate new years.