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

 

The original journal entry spanned the welcoming of the sabbath and continued through the remainder of Friday and Saturday, July 22-23, 2011. Find it by clicking this sentence.


My first שבת (Shabbat) in Israel was wonderful, and was really only my second time truly getting to enjoy a Shabbat experience. (The first time was earlier in 2011, when KOACH Kallah was at Northwestern.)

Prior to the trip, שבת usually meant going to services on Friday evening and/or Saturday morning. However, in my undergraduate years, I did not take sabbatical time from homework. Therefore, I used to be a particularly nasty hypocrite by going to services but then doing homework at other points of the day!

Though I had enjoyed שבתות prior to my first Israel experience, the fact that I was much more intimately involved with the spirit of the day, and with potentially like-minded people (though I later found out that I was one of the most ritually-observant of the Americans, which wasn’t saying very much…) made it a special experience. Moreover, it inspired me to make future שבתות, even in the States, like this one.

It was really special for me to go to services the next morning, even though there was no מיניין (quorum of 10 Jewish adults, and male since the synagogue on קיבוץ פרוד (Kibbutz Parod) was Orthodox) there [as I said in my journal, I was the only trip-goer who was up at that hour! Ha!]. Getting to take in services with Israelis, though maybe not an initial goal of mine, became a highlight of the trip. I would love to go back at some point, and maybe find a מסורתי (Masorti: Conservative) synagogue to compare and contrast to, say, Beth Jacob, Tifereth Israel, or Beth Hillel-Congregation B’nai Emunah.

Realizing that enjoying שבת involves negative commandments (e.g. don’t use electricity or fire, don’t do “work,” don’t write, etc.), there are also plenty of things that one SHOULD do, such as be joyous, study תורה (Torah), and relax. This relaxation involved icebreaker games on Friday evening, conversations throughout the 25 hours, swimming in the pool on the Saturday afternoon, and playing card games. And getting sunburnt… just joshing about that being relaxing on the latter!

Since Birthright ended, I have refrained from academic or professional work on שבת, but still do other types of מלכות (forbidden work on Shabbat) like driving, travelling by bike, writing, or using a computer for entertainment purposes. However, when I am with Jewish friends, it is much easier to avoid some of these acts. The שבתות that I have spent with my (non-Birthright) friend Sarah’s family this year have been fully relaxing, with reading, walks, Bananagrams, and conversations. No need for computers or TV when this occurs!  Additionally, this was true at Northwestern Hillel in the subsequent years when I would go to Saturday services. (Even though I was usually not good at Settlers of Catan!)

Therefore, the consideration of שבת was one major impact of Birthright on me.

And tomorrow, I will be reflecting on the trip to צפת (Safed) and/or the Independence Museum in תל אביב (Tel Aviv).

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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 (You are here!)

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

[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!

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Kenosha: 9 days.

Orientation: 23 days.

Day 1: 46 days.

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

Five years ago today, I (along with all but one of the Americans on Shorashim Bus 247) arrived in Israel at about 14:30 local time.

The original journal entry can be found by clicking here, and today, I’d like to further reflect on the אחים שמחה (Achim Simcha) that we did upon meeting our Israelis.

Oh, and I have to apologize. I inadvertently lied yesterday, as I DID publish the Chicago-to-Tel-Aviv journal as my second blog post. But, I did edit a few things and mention a few new comments. I won’t make that mistake again!

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The convening point at baggage claim, as I mentioned in my journal from five years ago, was called Smile Tourist Services. Despite possibly being a little jet-lagged, I shook off the fatigue, because I was all smiles in this picture! Once all of us Americans picked up our luggage, Dan prepared us, saying something to the effect of, “We’re about to complete our party. Are you all ready to meet our Israelis?”israel 012

However, I did not take pictures of what came next, but I really should have. I don’t think anyone on the bus trip did (or if they did, the photos never circulated to me). Oh well! Heading out from baggage claim, the Israelis were singing a traditional tune that I certainly recognized (printed below in Hebrew, then “Hebrish”, then English):

הנה מה טוב ומה נעים, שבת אחים גם יחד!

(Hinei mah tov u’mah nayim, shevet achim gam yachad!)

Behold–how good and pleasant, to sit in unity as brethren!

However, they probably should have replaced the word שבת (sit) with רקוד (dance)! After some hugs, handshakes, beach-ball tossing, and general happiness, we closed up into a circle, locking shoulders together. ניצן (Nitzan) then instructed us what to do, as we all began yelling:

אאאאאאאאאאאאאאאאאאחים! אחים אחים אחים אחים! שמחה! שמחה שמחה שמחה! …

(Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaachim! Achim! Achim achim achim! Simcha! Simcha simcha simcha! [repeats])

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrethren! Brethren! (x4) We are happy! (x4) [repeats]

Evidently none of us went to MIT, as while we were yelling this, we were also still locked together, jumping in the circle in a clockwise direction. In some sense, this reminds me of the LSE cheerleaders when they huddled up prior to the game, but simply yelled “Hey!” when the huddle broke up.

Honestly, this simple gesture was a HUGE change for me. It involved physical contact with other people, which I had not been particularly comfortable with before. But, I think there are a few things which made this different:

  1. In a new place, I had a different, more adventurous mindset.
  2. The explanation of אחים (brethren) really made it clear to me that I could have an extended family and network of close friends through this trip.
  3. My experiences earlier in the year with the Jewish community really seemed to open me up to socialization and even physical contact!

The Jewish population seems to have a smaller degree of separation than the community at large. Despite the fact that I was always a loser at the Jewish Geography game prior to the trip, I still felt very much at home with this group.

We all wore name tags on this first day, but did not have them for the remainder of the trip, so maybe I didn’t internalize as many names and faces as I would have otherwise liked. But, it was still great to meet everyone on this day, and enjoy the view of the Galilee and sunset as we said traditional blessings. It was much different, and more meaningful, to say these ברכות (blessings) over the wine (בורא פרי הגפן) and the newness (שהחיינו) IN ISRAEL! And then some photos, obviously, were taken. We didn’t get everyone into the photo because the lookout didn’t have enough area. But here’s one of them that I was in.

Galilee minigroup - Jared Garfield

In short, though I had just met all of these Israelis and even most of the Americans on the trip for the first time, I felt like there was an immediate connection, and not just because of the Judaism. I can’t quite put my finger on what the other connection is, however…

And indeed, this was the beginning of a very social trip for me, as well as an opening of myself to other social contexts, both Jewish and not, once I got back to the States. Looking back at it five years later, though maybe I didn’t include as many details as I would like now, I notice how even from the beginning, Taglit unlocked “something” in me.

So, it was a great first half-day in Israel, and thinking back on  אחים שמחה makes me realize, in some sense, what I had been missing prior to Birthright.

I could have written about עשרים ואחת ביולי, but since I did that in a previous post, I figured that I would reflect on something else.

I’m not sure where I will focus the mirror tomorrow, but I’m excited to write it!

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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 (You are here!)

[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

[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!

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Kenosha: 11 days.

Orientation: 25 days.

Day 1: 50 days.

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[M.M.X.I.V. 328] Ironic prompt

I have mentioned this before on the blog, but when I am on the L, it is easy for me to find something which strikes up a conversation with a passenger. (I had a similar post in July.) In this case, it was inspired by an ad that I saw on the train, and the content makes the story even more compelling.

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