7th Report From Israel – Actually from the air above Israel! 23.3.23
Whilst you are reading this, I am 30,000 feet in the air (that is if you read it within the first 5 hours of being posted) because I am coming home!
It has been a really exciting busy last month, filled with programs, learning and just about everything else in-between.
It began with a really awesome full day program designated to learning about the specialty and uniqueness of a Jewish home and the role of the Jewish wife in maintaining that home. My favourite kind of learning: fun and learning combined.
Then one day I decided it was time to have actual fun, so me and a few other girls went to the local High School’s production. Aside for it being a cool story, I actually understood everything of the Ivrit only show.
The next week was Purim: except in Israel Purim actually lasts a week. As you will all know, Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar except for those cities that were walled in the times of Joshua, where it is celebrated a day later on the 15th. Most cities in Israel celebrate it on the same day as you are used to in Bowdon on the 14th, whereas Jerusalem (both the Old Walled City and the New unwalled part) celebrate on the 15th. But here is the complication: there are some cities where they are unsure how ancient the walls are, were they possibly walled back in the days of Joshua? To remove any doubt, they celebrate on both days.
Tzfat of course is one of those cities, meaning I had a double Purim this year. Which sounds like fun, but remember it also meant that I had to listen to the Megillah four times!
Actually, Israel is the only place in the world, where someone can legally miss Purim. If for example a person is in Yerushalayim for the 14th of Adar, meaning it is not yet Purim for them and then they leave the city just before nighttime going to a place where Purim has just ended, they can technically avoid everything. Obviously most people try to do the exact opposite and specifically go to Yerushalayim for the 15th in order to celebrate again.
Being in Tzfat, I didn’t have to travel anywhere and automatically was blessed with the double Purim. Plus, for those of you who have read my previous blogs, it meant that I was ensured of no crazy bus stories.
So, on Purim night after my first of what would be four Megillah readings, me and about 15 other girls who had remained in Tzfat made a huge break-the-fast party. We all made some food for the potluck and everyone had a real blast. The next morning, I went with a few friends to help one of our teachers give out Mishloach Manot to his community.
I was very excited; what a perfect way to put my Ivrit to use. Then I was told: They are Russian and hardly speak a word of Ivrit! So armed with Google translate and the handful of Russian words I know, my friend and I went around and visited a bunch of Russians. They were all very old and barely leave their homes, so we literally brought Purim to them: we helped them perform the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot, told them how they can listen to the Megillah. When we left they were smiling from ear to ear. We quite literally made their day, no their week! I felt really accomplished.
Then as soon as we finished that, we rushed over to help run a community Purim Seudah. Our job? Be counsellors and attempt to look after the 200 kids running wild all over the grounds. The ratio of counsellors to children: 33:1, oh it was fun and games. And then when that was done, we got to start all over again. Only in Tzfat!
The next day was strange, as when I messaged home, it was no longer Purim, but for me it was Purim all over again. Sort of the reverse of every other Yom Tov when Israelis have one day Yom Tov whilst everyone else has two. But it was funny.
Together with a few of my friends, I went to the children’s hospital in Tzfat, where we gave the kids Mishloach Manot and cheered them up. We then ended off 3 amazing days with a trip to a restaurant for a festive meal and then we went to Meron to Daven at the grave of the holy Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (of Lag B’Omer fame).
With no time to rest, the very next day we all went on a Sem Shabbaton to Migdal Ha’Emek. But of course we couldn’t go straight there; no we had to go on a hike. In normal circumstances, an hour and 15 minute walk on a straight path is really easy. But add a heatwave and no shade, it’s not that fun. But the views were insane, so it kind of made up for the heat, and as it was followed by a really nice relaxing Shabbaton it was all good.
When we got back to Sem the countdowns started. All everyone could speak about was how many days or even hours it would be till they flew home. The teachers had an extra hard time getting everyone to focus, especially this last week when we were in to our last four days.
And there’s not really much more to say other than see you in a few hours!
P.S. – My flight home is scheduled to last 5 hours – my travel time from Tzfat to Ben Gurion took longer! But at least it gave me time to write this all up ready to be posted just as I take off.