Thank you to group TL-31-247 staffer Henry for sharing this update from his Taglit-Birthright Israel, Israel Outdoors group Shabbat experience!
With Shabbat starting around 4:30pm, we woke up and were out of the Gold Hotel by 8AM. We went to a lookout point called the Haas Promenade where we said a blessing called the Shehechiyanu, said when experiencing something for the first time, as we looked out over the beautiful city. From here we then headed to Mahane Yehuda, a crowded market place, where we tried different types of foods, bought some gifts, and experienced a scene unlike most markets. Afterwards, we walked through Jerusalem’s Old City to the Western Wall. It was an emotional and powerful sight to see.
We made it back to the hotel with about half an hour to prepare for Shabbat before we performed the candle ceremony together. We then proceeded to do a short Kabbalah Shabbat, singing songs and sharing our Shabbat experiences, before heading to dinner where we did the traditional blessings over the wine and bread. After dinner we met to exchange the gifts we had bought each other earlier in the market for our “Secret Shlomo” activity. We also tasted the most gooiest delicious rugellah ever.
Saturday, we had the option to attend services or sleep in. In the early afternoon, we played some fun games run by our Israeli peers. After, we had lunch and then went on a walking tour of Jerusalem, stopping in a park to sit, play some games, and enjoy the beautiful weather and landscape.
Before returning for the closing ceremony of Shabbat (Havdallah), we had a discussion to prepare for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. After Havdallah, we met with Neil Lazarus who spoke and showed videos about the political situation in Israel. Then, we had some time to get ready for our night out on Ben Yehuda Street. We got dinner on our own and explored the popular shopping and dining area. It was great!