[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 5 of 11] Awwwwwesome

Today’s blog post reflects on the Sunday of the Birthright trip in 2011, when we went to צפת (Safed) and תל אביב (Tel Aviv). Click on this sentence to see the original entry.

When I look back on the Sunday of the trip, I can summarize it in three independent words:

  • Art
  • Awesome
  • History

And I will briefly reflect on what each of them mean to me five years later.

In thinking about art from the trip, I would include not only the mystical and religious art that I encountered in צפת, but also the photos taken throughout the trip. And in some sense, there was much more in the name of art, but I’ll try to stay focused here!

Before going on the trip, I thought it was fun to go to art galleries, but it was not common to find artwork (whether two- or three-dimensional) that spoke to me.

In Safed Candles, however, there was an elaborate combination of candles which spoke to me… almost literally, shown below!

Noah's Ark, in wax and candles at Safed Candles, with Noah posing next to it.

Noah’s Ark, in wax and candles at Safed Candles, with Noah posing next to it. (And showing a couple of scrapes on my left leg from the Friday hike :p)

Prior to the trip, I did not really know much about Jewish mysticism. Learning, however, about the ספירות (spheres–see below), and also a little bit about gematria (numerology) has continued with me today. I learned that there was much more to numerology than 18 (חי–life).

Specifically, after the trip I was looking for references to the number 21 (עשרים ואחת) all over the place, since it really meant something to me on this trip! Additionally, I love diagrams, which is what some of the art depicts! I’ve also looked for 58 (נח = Noah) in my travels and numerological searches. Fortuitously, Illinois Highway 58 includes part of Dempster Street!

israel 216

And it is a lot easier nowadays for art to touch me and give me opportunity for reflection and commentary. I would not have the talent to create it, but I can certainly appreciate it better than I used to!

Next, Awesome. Obviously, it described the whole trip, but reflecting on the word five years later, it makes me think of the vocabulary (in both Hebrew and English) which were salient on this day.

The “w” was elongated by Avraham (see below) in describing the mystical art. This stuck in a lot of our minds, and became a catch-phrase (or catch-word, really!) for our trip. It even made it onto our group T-shirts at the end of the trip!

Avraham and the Tzefat Gallery of Mystical Art. It was awwwwwwesome!

Avraham and the Tzefat Gallery of Mystical Art. It was awwwwwwesome!

A Hebrew word from that day that was salient then (and even now) was פקק (p’kak)–traffic jam! Although we got caught in a few snags, it was nothing as bad as what I dealt with prior to שבת on Friday (i.e. two days ago, or July 22, 2016) — an aside that I was scheduled to lead the whole service in Eau Claire, but only got the tail-end of מעריב (Ma’ariv) due to a semi crash making Interstate 94 crawl to parking-lot pace for at least four miles.

And then there was the word בלגן (balagan) which meant chaos. Although some of the days on the trip had some בלגן in them, looking back I enjoyed the chaos, because no trip would be great if everything went as expected!

Finally, history. Not only did I learn a lot about Jewish and Israeli history on this day, between the old synagogues and the independence museum in Tel Aviv, but I think that today (five years ago) was a big change in my history!

I rarely revealed my emotions outwardly (other than my standard happiness and perhaps innocence) prior to the trip. Looking back at the trip, I notice now how often I wore my emotions on my sleeves and face. There were many instances of it either welling up with tears of wonder, happiness, or sometimes even sadness at the stories I heard. The first salient time of this was when we heard התיקווה (Hatikvah– the Israeli national anthem) at the Independence Museum, and also saw the room where the conference to establish independence was held (see below).

Israel's Independence Museum.

Israel’s Independence Museum.

And also, it was simply fascinating to learn history, and nearly experience it as well.


Check out the remaining entries in this sequence!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective] The Travel To Israel

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 2 of 11] Achim Simcha

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 3 of 11] Take a hike!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 4 of 11] A Shabbat in Israel

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 5 of 11] Awwwwwesome (You are here!)

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 6 of 11] Primary Sources

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 7 of 11] Sinat Chinam (and Ahavat Chinam)

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 8 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 9 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 10 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 11 of 11] Coming soon!


Kenosha: 8 days.

Orientation: 22 days.

Carthage Day 1: 45 days.

blog signature


Let's have a conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s