For a couple of years, busloads of CDS alumni have been driving past a floating water park at Ganim Beach on the Kinneret called Aqua Kef and begging Mrs. Mazer to go there. This year, she made it happen. The photos say it all!
From Aqua Kef, our bus then made the steep climb further north to the Holy City of Tzfat, which Eitan taught us is represented by the natural element of ruach (wind or spirit). He encouraged us to keep an open mind and heart and let the spirit of Tzfat enter us as we explored the birthplace of Jewish mysticism.
In Tzfat, we walked down a steep alley with stairs called “Simtat HaMashiach” that has become famous because of an old woman “Grandma Yocheved,” who would sit at the entrance expecting Moshiach to pass through Tzfat on the way to Jerusalem. We also visited the late 16th-century Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, which was built in memory of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534 – 1572), who was known as the “Ari.” During Friday night services, the Ari was accustomed to leave the synagogue with his disciples to walk to a nearby field to welcome the Shabbat. This tradition is still echoed in the singing of Lecha Dodi, when worshippers turn toward the entrance of the synagogue to “greet” Shabbat, as we did together impromptu on the streets of Tzfat. We then wandered through narrow alleyways lined with artists’ studios, galleries, and workshops and enjoyed a falafel and shawarma lunch.
To get ready for Shabbat, we baked challah at Livnot U’Lehibanot, a nonprofit organization that provides Israel experience programs. We first performed the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah and learned through a story about Elijah the Prophet how our purpose in life is to be a light unto others. 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 is coming, and we will use the next 24 hours to rest, reflect, and connect. Gali gave us the Hebrew words this week to express the beauty of Israel, and we’ll leave you with that, along with our warm wishes for a Shabbat Shalom!