“Come out my Beloved, the Bride to meet; The inner light of Shabbat, let us greet.”
Today we traveled to Tzvat, the ancient Galilean city with breathtaking views and the birthplace of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). We wandered through narrow alleyways lined with artists’ studios and workshops and visited two beautiful synagogues with high ceilings, ornate decorations, and ancient Torah scrolls.
One is the Ashkenazi Ari Synagogue from the mid-16th century named for Rabbi Yitzhak Luria Ashkenazi, known as Aa’Ari. Here, the traditional Kabbalat Shabbat prayer we know today originated, and together we sang Lecha Dodi in the courtyard.
We next visited the Abuhav Synagogue named for 15th-century scholar Rabbi Abuhav, with a Torah scroll believed to be scribed by the rabbi himself that is used only on Yom Kippur, Shavuot, and Rosh Hashanah (forming the Hebrew acronym “kosher”) because of its sanctity. And no, contrary to one student’s answer, Rabbi Abuhav did not come from Toledo, Ohio, but rather Toledo, Spain.
To get ready for Shabbat, we baked challah together at Livnot U’Lehibanot, a nonprofit organization that provides Israel experience programs. We first performed the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah and learned through story that sometimes we need to seek the divine within ourselves rather than searching to others for answers. We rolled and shaped our challah dough and put it to bake in a 500-year-old oven restored to working use in a 16th-century ruin at the Livnot National Heritage Site in Tzfat’s ancient Jewish quarter.
Shabbat Shalom from our CDS Class of 2016 family here in Israel to yours!