I realized I haven’t written about any of my holiday experiences in Israel, but they have been beyond eye opening and amazing for me, so I will share those experiences with you now.
Rosh Hashanah – I have family living in Zichron Ya’akov who I stayed with during Rosh Hashanah. It was really great for me to re-connect with my family, and meet cousins I didn’t know existed, and connect with this side of my family. They did a great job at making me feel comfortable and at home. This was the first year I did not go to services. Weird right? I finally make it to Israel and I don’t go to shul on the high holiday’s?
My attitude in Israel is a “When in Rome” type up mentality. I am open to experiencing all of my experiences through the lens of the individual(s) hosting me. I appreciated the family time celebrated during Rosh, but I realized, going to synagogue is important to me. SO, I decided I would go to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur.
Monday afternoon, I traveled a lovely 4 hours from Shlomi to the Kotel. (This includes, train, bus, another bus, and walk time). I had not been to the kotel in five years and I have been waiting to return. The women’s side of the kotel seemed smaller than I remember it being, which I found to be very disturbing, BUT it did not take away from my personal time of reflection and prayer.
Erev Yom Kippur I was welcomed with open arms to the beautiful Amit family’s home.
For services Tuesday evening I went to a small(ish) traditional/egalitarian minyan with my friend Aaren. Davening began with a niggun of the song “B’shem Hashem” and a rush of positive light and energy rushed through my body. I spent the majority of the service with my eyes closed, intentionally allowing myself to feel the energy surrounding me and flowing through me. After shul, everyone in Israel was out on the streets walking around. With everyone dressed in white, the roads looked filled with angels. There were no cars on the road, only people and bikes for 25 hours. At hour 26, the honking and crazy Israel driving was back :).
On Yom Kippur day, I went to services at HUC, the reform Rabbinical School. This was my first Yom Kippur service with guitars, a cello, and a piano. I used to be very anti-music in davening, but after Yom Kippur I have a new appreciation for music in Shul. Music, has the power to wake something inside of every individual, and I believe music and davening can go hand in hand, as long as the kavod is still present. (Which it was, very much so, at HUC). Our services were held in a room overlooking the Old City and during Neilah I watched the moon rise above Yerushalayim. I get chills just thinking about what an amazing experience it was). Oh yea, in the 2.5 hour break between services I partook in some gentle-restorative-yoga. Perfect prep for Neilah.
The overall energy of this Yom Kippur was very light hearted and I felt a constant positivity throughout the entire Holiday. I feel truly refreshed and am now ready for Sukkot! This morning, my program-mates and landlord and I, built a sukkah! Tonight we will be eating in the sukkah with our Landlord and his family. They are the best, and love cooking food for us, which is amazingly wonderful! Tomorrow night, I invited my host family over for dinner in the Sukkah! Below are pictures of us building the sukkah:
On another note, as you might be able to tell from my pictures, I think my hair is falling out again. My hair has been interesting for me in Israel. I am learning how to talk about it in Hebrew, which is interesting because I have found, the easiest answer for me to tell people in Hebrew is, “I didn’t do this, Hashem did.” I started to questions myself when I would say this because I felt like my wording puts “blame” on Hashem, rather than me looking at this as a growing opportunity for me, and a challenge I was given because I can handle it. There are times when I wish I had a full head of hair, but there are also times when I am grateful my hair fell out, because that was a big turning point in my life, and if my hair hadn’t fallen out, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
With that, I feel more grateful and blessed than ever before in my life. I have no job causing me stress or worry, and I am living as much in the present moment, as possible. I still have an eye on my future, constantly thinking about all of my passions so I can manifest the perfect business for me, but I am not stressing over my next move, for the first time in my life.
I love you. Thank you for reading about my journeys.
To feeling alive,