Shana Tova:  The High Holy Days in the Holy Land

Spending the holidays in Israel, like everything else has been an experience all in itself.  I spent Rosh Hashanah with a friend’s family.  We had an incredible dinner on the first night with a nice, intimate group of 13 family members, myself, and their very cute dogs.  I was able to get to know many of them, and ended the night completely stuffed from the amount of delicious food.  The next day followed with a family barbecue with a group of near 40 family members.  Coming from a rather small family, there were SO many people.  I was grateful for my being able to get to know some people the night before, but still absolutely loved feeling so welcomed as a part of their family.  For the last day of Rosh Hashanah, my friend and I went on a hike in a park called Nachal Kziv, that I visited on my tiyul with Bina earlier this year.  We hiked through a different part of the park, which was equally gorgeous!  That night, I was very excited to get to share my bed with one of the cute dogs, Buddy, even if he couldn’t come home with me!  Getting to spend Rosh Hashanah with my friend’s family was a great and overall relaxing way to start the new year!

For Yom Kippur, Bina wanted all of its participants to join them in Tel Aviv for a celebration.  We were hosted in an apartment in Yafo by participants from a different Bina program.  We started with a erev Yom Kippur dinner at Bina’s main campus, which they share with a secular Yeshiva.  Dinner was over around 5:30 pm, and there was still about an hour until Bina help Kol Nidre services, so many of us decided just to head back to the apartment.  We spent the evening watching 13th, a new documentary (shameless plug: you NEED to watch 13th. It was INCREDIBLE) and playing mafia.  It was great to be able to get to know the participants from the other programs!  The following day, Bina offered different workshops, but with only one in English, many of us again decided to stay at the apartment.  We played Shesh Besh (backgammon) and watched more Netflix.  Around 3, we walked up to Bina’s campus to meet with some others, and made the trek to Ayalon Highway, one of Israel’s main highways through Tel Aviv.  In Israel, on Yom Kippur, the entire country shuts down.  We were able to walk, sit, and even do handstands on the highway, and only saw 3 or 4 cars pass the entire hour we were on the highway.  There is not a single holiday like it in the US.  After we returned to the apartment, we waited until break fast, when we went out uniting for any shop that was open and selling food.  I ended up breaking the fast with a toast, which is the Israeli way of saying a grilled cheese with lots of veggies on it.  We then made the 2 1/2 hour journey back to the north so we could be ready for school in the morning.

Now, as we enter Sukkot and after only 4 days of teaching in October, I have a week and a half of free time for a school break.  I am looking forward to having absolutely no plans, and seeing what ends up filling my time!

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