Spending Rosh Hashana in Israel was truly a once in a lifetime experience and was very different from Rosh Hashana in Canada or America. The week leading up to the chag everyone in the stores and along the streets were wishing each other a Shana Tova and you could just tell that everyone was getting ready for the Chag and ready to start a new page for the new year.
Friday morning after Tiffilot we had sichot about Rosh Hashana to learn more about the upcoming Chag and to also get us in the mood. I chose to go to sessions about Akadet Yitzchak, customs done on Rosh Hashana, and about Utana Tokef. They were all wonderful sessions and after they were finished some friends and I decided to be a bit crazy and head to the shuk. While it was a wonderful experience to see the shuk so busy and full of life due to the fact that it was just a few hours before the sunset, it was hard to move and it smelt so bad from all the fish and more. After the return from the shuk I finished getting ready and then headed down to -3 where we all davened together for a powerful and moving service. Personally, I shed a couple of tears due to the fact that it really was starting to hit me that Israel will be home for the next 9 months and therefore I will not be spending almost any Chagim or Shabatot with my family for a long time. Nonetheless Nativ has already started to become my family for the year. After services, we all headed upstairs for a delicious (yes, delicious and fulfilling food at Beit Nativ) dinner complete with fish heads. Then after dinner a bunch of my friends said that they were going to head to the Kotel and I figured that what better time to go take my first visit to the Kotel this time in Israel then Rosh Hashana. After a relaxing walk there and once again seeing the Rosh Hashana atmosphere in the streets we arrived there. While I thought that it would be crowded considering the holiday it was quite empty and I was able to walk right up to the wall and I was very happy that I made the choice to go.
After a great night sleep, it was up and out of Beit Nativ very early (7:30ish) in order to get to services on time. I along with some friends decided to head to Kedem which is an egalitarian service. It was a very beautiful service with lots of great tunes and it really felt like I was part of the service as opposed to at home where I felt it was more like a show and I was just a spectator. After a pretty quick service (done by 12:00) it was back to Beit Nativ for lunch and rest time. However in the middle of the afternoon I looked outside and it was legit raining, yes, raining in September in Israel. Even though the rain did not last that long it was still exciting. That evening my boyfriend (yes, I have a boyfriend now, questions can be asked later) and I headed to Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein's in-laws house for another delicious dinner (including eating a quince which is a cross between an apple and a pear) with all their family and friends. When we got back it was straight to bed because Sunday was also an early morning.
Sunday was a very long day due to the fact that we walking to Talpiyot (which is about an hour walk) to go to two different Masorti Synagogues and get hosted by families there for lunch. When we got to the city after a rainy walk, some of the group went to Mayanot
and I along with the part of the group went to Moreshet Avraham. It was another beautiful service. I then went to lunch at the Friedgut's for a tasty lunch and some down time from the long walk. It was then off to the Tayellet (a scenic strip that overlooks the Jerusalem and the old city) to daven Mincha and do Tashlich (which consisted of throwing rocks and bread over the Tayellet). It was then time to walk back to Beit Nativ to relax and bit and then end this first wonderful Chag in Eretz Yisrael.
The rest of this week has been pretty much normal just classes, relaxing and hanging out with friends. Monday though was the first Disney b'Ivrit evening on Nativ. This week we watched Shrek (which is not exactly Disney) but it was still a great evening of learning new Hebrew words, learning new parts to Shrek that I did not know about and hearing some of the great song in Hebrew.
My next blog posting will tell all of you about the holiest holiday of the year, Yom Kippur and also about Kapparot.