Saturday, October 17, 2009

How you get money for your Shul (Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah)

After a very restful couple of days off it was time to get ready for our last Jewish holiday until Hanukkah in December.


After much debate I decided to go to Kol Rina for Erev Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah. Kol Rina is a small little shul in a bomb shelter in Nachlaot. When we got there they were starting the abbreviated Kabbalat Shabbat and after a quick davening we got ready to start the hakafot. However, what was most surprising was that instead of starting the Rabbi got up on a chair on the men's side of the mechitza and started to auction off the different hakafot. My friends and I started looking at each other like he was crazy or something. We were also wondering whether it was halakhaic to be asking for money on Shabbat/Chag. After about 3 minutes of this going on we thought it would stop because no one was bidding, nonetheless he went on until all of them were auctioned off. Once the hakafot started it was crazy but still really good and better then back home. Once the dancing got intense the mechitza was covered with a tallis so that the males could not see us dancing and dancing with a Torah nonetheless. After only 1 hakafah we left to head back to Beit Nativ for dinner and another wonderful Tisch before heading to bed.


Shabbat morning I decided to try out Yedidya which Gabriel has raved to me about. After a 30 minute walk we arrived around 8:45 and they were already on the 2nd hakafah because they had stated davening at 7:30. We all jumped into the intense dancing that was going on and I enjoyed it immensely; and we even went outside for the last 2 hakafot. After hakafot we went back inside for a separate male and female Torah and Haftorah reading and then we all came back to together for the end of tiffilot. After shul was over I got the chance to have an aliyah and then we walked bake to base for lunch and chill time until Shabbat was over.


Since there is only one day here, Saturday night in Gan Hapamon there were hakafot once more but this time it was with music because Shabbat/Chag was over. It was nice but due to the fact that I had already done hakafot twice already I did not stay for that long.


Through this one day I have realized that Simchat Torah was so much better in Israel because everyone was participating and everyone was into the dancing and all. Almost no one was sitting down. As well only in Israel during the chagim do the busses wish you a Chag Sameach.


Sunday was my last day of break from the Yeshiva so I spent it doing some errands and seeing my friend Yardena.


Monday it was back to Yeshiva and the beginning of starting new topics in certain classes. For example in Talmud we are starting to learn the 8th chapter of Baba Kama which deals with personal injury and damages. We looked this past week at pre-biblical law codes as well as the Mishna. Monday evening we had a speaker come talk to us about drug and alcohol use and abuse.


Tuesday night's Erev Nativ was an orientation to the semester that starts on Sunday was Hebrew University starts. This means that mini-mester will be over but we will now have more freedom and also will be receiving stipend which means that better food will be on its way. Also now that the semester is starting there will be various evening programs such as Flag football and a Jewish Educators training program.


Wednesday afternoon we went to the AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel) memorial ceremony. AACI helps new olim to Israel and this memorial was to remember those where were killed in the past year. It was a somewhat moving ceremony but the most moving part is that since pre-Israel more than 300 olim have fallen in war or terrorist attacks fulfilling their dreams of living in Eretz Yisrael.


Thursday was one of the best days this past week. This was because it was my one month anniversary with Ethan. After getting dressed up thanks to the help of some of friends Ethan gave me a pair of earrings by Michal Negrin and then we went to dinner at Caffit and then for ice cream. It was a delicious dinner and wonderful evening. However this also means that I have already been in Israel for over 6 weeks which I cannot believe.


This past Shabbat was another wonderful relaxing weekend. Shabbat morning I went to the Beit Yisrael, the Ashkenazi shul in Yemin Moshe. It was a nice quick service which was done by 10:45 and there was a filling Kiddush afterwards with lasagna, crepes, cakes and more.


Now that the chagim are over and school and life is picking up I will not have as much time to blog but when I get a chance.


Until then,



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sukkot and Survival

Wednesday began our Nativ preparation for the upcoming Holiday of Sukkot. That afternoon almost all 80 of us built and decorated the 2 Sukkot that we (Nativ) and the Fuchsberg center will be using throughout the Chag. Thursday after a study session on Sukkot prepared by us Yeshiva students it was off to the Shuk Arba Minim to find the perfect to use for the week. When we arrived at the shuk it was very overwhelming because there were so many different vendors to buy from and also so many people there from many different backgrounds. For example there was a large group of Ultra Orthodox Jews there with their magnify glasses to check etrogrim to make sure that they were perfect. After a search around I ended up buying the whole set plus a Lulav bag for only 40 Shekels (aprox. $11). Friday night was the start of Chag and I decided to go next door to Moreshet Yisrael for an OK service. It was not the best but it was close and quick. It was then back to Beit Nativ for dinner in the Sukkah and hanging out time. Shabbat morning I tried to get up to go to Shul but due to the lack of sleep during the week I did not wake up in time. When I did wake up it was time for lunch in the Sukkah followed by more relaxing and hanging out time and then before I knew it Shabbat was over and so was Yom Tov because Israel only celebrates one day. Motzei Shabbat was spent packing and getting ready for our 3 day desert survival tiyul.


Sunday morning began our 3 days in the desert which meant being dirty and no showers for those days but it was well worth it. We first drove down to the Ein Gedi Youth Hostel that I stayed at for the Yeshiva Shabbaton, to daven Shacharit and breakfast. It was then off to Sapir to began our hike which started with a very bumpy jeep ride to the start of our hiking trail. Once we all were there we started our adventure into the desert. The first day of hiking was mostly flat except for a hill/mountain our two and at the end of the day a really steep downhill. Out of the 3 days this was the worst one for me because I'm not used to hiking and also we started the hike when the sun was the highest so combine all these factors and you get really bad dehydration. Thankfully I had my friend Ari to help me get through the aprox. 8 km we walked that day as well as conversations and sing-a-longs to help pass the time. After about 6 hours after hiking we reached our campsite for the first night and had a delicious dinner and a campfire before heading to bed under the stars. Monday morning we woke up at 4:30 AM in order to daven, pack up and eat so we could start hiking before the sun rose too much. The 2nd day's hike was much longer, aprox. 15 km, and much rougher/harder. There were a lot of mountains that we had to overcome that day and one of them felt like I was rock climbing. We also met up with the Kehillah group midway through the day and it was nice to see the other half of Nativ. The really nice part of Monday was that because we were such fast hikers we got to our campsite earlier then expected which allowed for lots of rest and relaxation before another delicious dinner and another campfire which included marshmallows. As well by the end of Monday we had made it into the makhtesh (crater) and got to start seeing its vastness and beauty. Tuesday morning was the same deal as Monday morning and the hike was not that bad except for this REALLY steep mountain that we had to climb. However my friend Sami helped me up to the top and it was worth it due to the amazing view overlooking the whole makhtesh. In addition form the top I was able to see just a bit how much land we had hiked in the past days. After a somewhat steep and rocky walk down to the bottom we reached the end of our hike which was in total aprox. 35 K or so (aprox. 20 mi). I know for me when I saw the end I was so proud of myself for completing the whole hike despite my non athletic abilities and my prone to dehydration. Photos from the Tiuyl can be seen here.


After the bus ride back to Beit Nativ, I had a quick dinner and then it was off to a 20 minute shower to wash off the 3 days of dirt and who knows what that was on me. That shower though was probably one of the most refreshing ones after 3 days of not showering. Wednesday and Thursday were days off which meant sleep and resting. Thursday though, there was a blood drive at the King David Hotel and a few of my friends and I decided to go save a life. The actual donation took almost no time and I can now say that I have donated in two different countries, one of which is Israel.


Friday will be spent getting ready for Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah which is only one day here in Israel and I will let you all after the chag.