Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 2: Shabbat in Jerusalem

Day 2: Jerusalem/Shabbat by Debbie Baskir Looking back, this past Shabbat has been one of the most meaningful Shabbats I have ever experienced. We woke up and went to shul. We had the option of choosing which shul we wanted to go to, either a traditional Italian shul or a more modern shul called The Great Synagogue. I chose to go to the Italian shul because I had heard that the Italians have a completely different service compared to the Ashkenazi or Sephardi service. We walked in as complete strangers but left feeling as if we were part of the community. We were greeted with open arms and wide smiles by the women, who seemed ecstatic to have new people join their community for a few hours. We left feeling very satisfied with our decision to go to the Italian service. We walked back on King George street and met up with the other group, who seemed happy with their decision, too. We stopped and sat under a shady tree to stop the sun from penetrating our sunscreen. We started talking about being a tourist vs assimilating into the Israeli community. There were many different and interesting opinions and ideas expressed. Lead by Arava, our tour guide, we walked around in the more Orthodox neighborhoods. Although some of us felt as if we were intruding on those Jews' peaceful Shabbats and observing them as though we were in a zoo, that is something that needs to be done in order to experience those neighborhoods. Uncomfortableness isn't necessarily a bad thing. After lunch, we had a few hours to relax. Some of us met up with local family or friends, some of us hung out in the hotel, mainly the pool, and some of us slept to catch up on our lack of sleep and jetlag over the past few days. When we were all rested and relaxed, we began our walking tour of the Old City. While on the way to the Old City, we saw some Ultra-Orthodox men, who were probably from the neighborhood of Meah Shaarim, who were screaming at the cars passing by. It was so surreal, as we had heard about the increasing violence and protests that those Jews have been having, but to see in in the flesh was a whole new experience. We saw many important sites throughout the Old City, including a Kariite shul, the statue of King David, the Zion Gate, but most importantly, the Kotel, or the Western Wall. For many Fellows, this was their first time seeing the Kotel. Some described it as humbling, uplifting, and incredible. When I was praying with my head leaning against the smooth rock of the ancient Wall, I paused for a minute to observe my surroundings. In the background, I could hear some Yeshiva boys singing some Seudah Shlishit songs. I also saw the intense praying of some of the nearby women- their kavanah (meaning and deep thoughfulness in Hebrew) showing so strongly that it inspired me to pray more. At that moment, I can honestly say that not only was I proud to be Jewish, but also felt part of the Jewish people. When Shabbat ended, we partook in Havdallah in the plaza of the Kotel, along with the Diller cohort from L.A. We met the bus near the Kotel and drove to Ben Yehudah street. The street was packed and filled with people of all ages, but mostly of young people our age. I must say, the falafel that I ate for dinner on Ben Yehudah street was the best falafel I had ever had. It was just delicious! Nothing can ever be compared to Israeli falafel :) We came back late to the hotel exhausted, our feet burnt out and tired, but our minds completely filled with a whole bunch of new memories that I bet will stay with us forever. ADIOS PEOPLE. hi mom.

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