שָׁבוּעַ טוֹב

As the sun set over Jerusalem, we began a sweet, meaningful, and peaceful Shabbat together at Kehilat Kol Haneshama, a local Reform congregation. Our group was invited to sing Adon Olam to conclude the Kabbalat Shabbat service and then began our brisk 40-minute walk back to the hotel (it’s much colder here today in Jerusalem than Pittsburgh!) for a festive Shabbat dinner.

This morning, we attended lively Shabbat services at Congregation Moreshet Israel, an egalitarian Conservative synagogue in downtown Jerusalem. As is the practice for concluding each of the Five Books of Moses, we stood with the Moreshet community for the final verses of Vayikra and proclaimed aloud: Chazak, Chazak v’Nitchazek. Be strong and we will be strengthened. In attendance at the service was the grandson of Rabbi Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the founder of the modern Hebrew language!

In the afternoon, we relaxed playing soccer and hanging out on the playground at a nearby park. We then returned to the hotel again for the “third meal” of Shabbat—Seudat Shelishit—followed by a group game in Hebrew and Havdalah.

Afterward, it was on to the Cinema City mall for dinner and shopping (of course, the Hebrew word of the day was קֶנִיוֹן, which means “mall”) ..

Our fearless chaperones are sure holding their horses on this trip …

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At the end of Havdalah, we each shared our wishes and hopes for the group for our time in Israel. We’ll end this post and start the new week with a few favorites:

Samuel (our tour guide): I wish we all learn about what it means to be Jewish in Israel
Eli: I hope we all have fun together this week
Abe: I hope we learn more about being Jewish
Sophie: I wish everyone views whatever happens as the glass half-full, not empty
Shayna: I hope we all become even closer than we already are
Justin: I hope we go into everything wth a positive attitude so we are guaranteed to have a good time
Maya K: I hope we all go home knowing a little more Hebrew
Liora (our madricha): I hope everyone is going to have their eyes open to be there for their friends if they are in need of help
Nir (our security guard): Israel is a very complicated place, so my wish is that you ask us questions about what it is like to live here
Mrs. Mazer: I hope that when you leave Israel, you leave with a desire to come back
Mr. St. Clair: I wish that each of you has a transformative experience at the Kotel

Tomorrow, we’re off to explore the Old City …

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