Not three hours before the horrific attacks in Israel’s South erupted, our teens from Boston and Haifa concluded their first day together by joyously celebrating Shabbat at NYC’s Romemu.
Given that this Shabbat was also Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, Rabbi Ingber and his crew mused with the circular concept of time, with words and song. To end their service, they played a beautiful rendition of Pete Seegar’s Turn, Turn, Turn, who composed it to the timeless (pun intended) words of Kohelet.
As we were all on our feet, clapping, and singing together “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” – we didn’t even begin to imagine what these words would mean to us.
Kohelet was wrong. Over the following week, laughter, tears, dance, sleepless nights, anxiety, new friendships, anger, joy, mourning and dreaming blended together for one intangible mass/mess.
From finding a way to celebrate an impossible Simchat Torah at Beth El, through being at the 9/11 Memorial on that black Saturday, meeting our new host families, texting and calling with home, immersing in Mayyim Hayyim, teaching at JLCMW and Temple Beth Am, watching the news, trying the play candlepin bowling, singing Hatikva at the Boston Common, chopping firewood with pilgrims in Plimoth, learning about the JWA, checking out the new Hebrew College Campus, wondering who is this Paul Revere, and how is this bus going to float, spending 12 hours in Beth El’s kitchen, cooking up a real Israeli dinner for 200 people, all the way to a final night of singing and weeping, followed by an emotional Lehitraot in February (or so we all deeply hope).
Usually, we try sharing our experiences from the mifgash in real time – via the website and social media. While there was a genuine attempt to try this time, we hope that you understand why this mifgash was more inward than outward facing.
As these words are written, our friends from Haifa are back in their homes, embraced by their families. Our Boston teens are back in school, easing back into their daily routines. We are all happy, sad, exhausted, and most of all – feel like a part of us is missing.
More than ever, this mifgash has been a true team effort, with so many wonderful people pitching in. Here we will attempt to thank them all:
Our Host Families – for taking on much more than you signed up for, and doing it with love, care, understanding, and compassion.
The team at Congregation Beth El in Sudbury – Rabbi Josh, Cantor Vera, Scott Beth and Svetlana, for being our much-needed home away from home.
Our Volunteers: Sarah Green Vaswani, David Strauss, Joyce Minkoff, Jane and Martin Brauer, Debbie and Steve Feldman, Amy Guiel, Riki Gottlieb, Danyel Rodgers, Faith Jarger, Jess Baker, Allison Alter, Michelle Fineblum, Judith Goldberg, Toby Kopman, Jerry Kazin, Mark Rosenthal, and so many more who made it all work, and kept us safe.
Our Staff – Natanella, Limor and Sarah, for being our teens teachers, parents, guides, siblings, and friends throughout the mifgash.
CJP – for making this experience possible.
B’nai Torah MetroWest and Beth Elohim in Acton – for encouraging your families to take part in this experience.
JLCMW and Temple Beth Am – for inviting our teens to learn and play with your students.
Hebrew College – for your warm hospitality, accommodation, and flexibility.
Mayyim Hayyim – for providing our teens with the transforming experience of immersion.
Romemu in Manhattan – for making us all feel welcome, and providing the soundtrack for our week.
Sharonna’s Bakery – for your delicious real-Israeli pitas.
We look forward to seeing everyone again this coming February, in Haifa!