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No Place Like Home

This past Shabbat was very exciting considering it was the first Shabbaton at the Midrasha with faculty, since the first Shabbat of the year. We spent Shabbat with Sepha Sheinbein, Rav Ron, his wife and his three daughters. Friday night we all davened together and welcomed Shabbat in with a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat with everyone singing along to the beautiful melodies. After we davened, we all gathered in the Beit Midrash for dinner. Although we are already more than half way into the year, our Madrichot still assign random seating at each meal on Shabbatonim so that we can sit next to different people and continue to make more friends. During the meal we sang zmirot, Rav Ron gave an alphabetized, fun parsha quiz and a few girls stood up and gave beautiful brachot to the rest of us. After dinner, we played some fun games. In one of the games, a madricha randomly called on girls, gave them a word, and on the spot they had to come up with a Dvar Torah on it.  Fun and educational!

The next morning, we went to the local Shul in the neighborhood. When we returned to school we had a delicious Kiddush followed by Parsha shiurim with Rav Ron and Sepha.  After lunch Rav Ron offered an optional walking tour of Beit HaKerem and told us about the historical essence of the community our school is in. We learned many interesting facts about our neighborhood. Our madricha, Danielle then took some girls to a park nearby where we enjoyed the beautiful weather.

Finally, at the closing of Shabbat, we gathered for the final time in the Beit Midrash for Seudat Shlishit, a Kumsitz and Havdalah. The Shabbaton at school was one we’ll never forget. Although we’re encouraged to go out and spend Shabbatot around the country, they do not compare to Shabbat spent at school with our beloved friends and faculty!

This past Tuesday night, we had a kumsitz with Shaindel Antelis. After we all helped turn over our Beit Midrash to concert form, we took our seats and waited for the show to begin. Sheindel told us about her life, smoothly transitioning to the song that represents that time. Her story was so inspiring; she had always dreamed of being signed by a Hollywood producer and travelling around the world. She was able to do those things, but in a way she never imagined. She had to give up the Hollywood part of the dream, but in that, found happiness and a connection to Hashem. She integrated her gift and dream with Hashem and the Torah. All of her songs have a positive and important message for all of us: to love yourself, to accept your life and what you have been given, and to know that your friends and Hashem will always be there for you. By the end of the night, we were all singing along, clapping our hands, and dancing. This is a night we will all remember.

On Wednesday morning we went with Jerusalem U to the Rachel checkpoint between Beit Lechem and Jerusalem. We heard from Naveh of the humanitarian group כחול ולבן and the soldiers from the civil administration about the process of pedestrian border crossings. The soldiers also told us stories of their humanitarian efforts to help the Palestinian population. After stopping at Kever Rachel for tefilla, we travelled to a Medical centre in Efrat that treats Palestinian patients. We heard from Rabbi Marcus who outlined the moral dilemmas involved in medical treatment in difficult situations and told us about the special program they run for the Palestinians. It was a very enlightening and eye opening morning.

This week was the last week to try out classes for Spring semester. We’re all putting the finishing touches on our schedules and we’re excited about the wonderful classes this semester!

Shabbat Shalom.

Ariela Hecht, Aya Justin and Sarah Joffe




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