From Friday sunset until last night, it was Yom Kippur and the Jewish world went into fasting for 25hrs and intense prayers. In the past, I have always struggled with this holiday because it seemed so depressing and not happy. However, this year was different. Not only am I thankful to say that I fasted the entire 25hrs (though I needed water to keep my body without calories). I have never been able to do so thing, and my younger brother joined alongside me and we made it through, thank G-d! I definitely felt as though it was mental toughness game as the hours passed on and my stomach grumbled along, I kept praying or at least trying to. I realized that Yom Kippur is a happy holiday or at least it keeps to the meaning of a Fast of Joy. I think this is because during Rosh Hashana, the gates of heaven open up and throughout the next ten days, we, jews, pray for health, happiness, safety, life and for all good things! Then on Yom Kippur the gates close. Its almost exciting as we connect and grow closer to Hashem, G-d, in the 25 hours prior to this. It feels amazing despite the weakness in your body. Through that weakness I found strength in G-d! I found myself immersed in the feeling of now and when I closed my eyes during the Amidah (silent prayer) I found myself with almost the same feeling I felt at the Kotel, the Western Wall. That feeling is one of transformation as I opened my eyes. It felt as though I was somewhere else and then when my eyes open and see the words in the book and take in my surroundings I am looking at everything that is the same but with new eyes. It is truly a wonderful spiritual experience and I am so thankful for this Yom Kippur experience. May this be a sweet new year for my family, friend, myself, the entire Jewish people and everyone! G’mary Hatimah Tovah!
I have been thinking about numbers alot lately. There are number everywhere. From your keyboard to Jerseys to birthdates to deathdates to tattoos to accounting and prices to recipes and people in your class or family or office. Numbers are everywhere and sometimes they seem to follow formulas to dictate how certain situations are to pan out. I started thinking about this about two weeks ago when it was the Holocaust rememberance day. I had just ran a triatholon and still had number painted on me and I wore them proudly. Yet I realized how strange it was that I was proud of my “number” because in the Holocaust that was all that each individual with a name and story was known as. It saddened me and realized how devalued the victims were. Its because of them I will not get a tattoo. I will try my best to remember people by name and not by phone number or street address. Its because of those innocent lives that I will live, be jewish and remind the world that the holocaust happened. We can not let this happen. We must prevent it. If we see signs of it starting again or other genocides that are currently going on. We must not “stand idly by”. Let’s together stand up and remind the world that innocent people are being killed (Darfur, genocide is still happening) and those who are able, we should find a way to help them. TO GO OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE AND TO HELP THOSE IN NEED. Let us remember the 6 million innocent jews murdered in the Holocaust. Let us remember all those who have died due evil terrors in the world. Let’s be a light unto nations!
This past week was crazy, chaotic and frustrating. There were people who wasted my time. People who judged and hurt me. There didn’t seem to be enough time. I was exhausted and tired. I was running from one thing to the next. Then on friday afternoon after class I was helping with a bioengineering lab by walking on a treadmill and it did not seem to want to work. It was frustrating and then there was a storm and the one second electrical storm ruined any momentum that we had.
When I got to my apartment, after walking through the rain, I was exhausted and ready for the weekend. I turned on some music. Took a nice warm shower and put on a cute outfit. Did my hair and makeup and my energy felt sparks of change. I met up with my parents and we headed to our local Rabbi’s house. Just walking in, confirmed the Shabbat feeling I was experiencing. The dinner was tasty and the prayers reminded me of the large crowd I experienced at the hotel in Jerusalem on Shabbat a few months ago. I shared my Israel experience and we had many beautiful conversations. There was something different about this shabbat. I felt like I was in another world and didn’t want to leave. The Rabbi brought up a conversation of something that I have thought about for a while and been frustrated with. The conversation at first brought up some angst within me but was slowly building up to me smiling and laughing and listening to every word. I felt like it was the start to answer to a prayer I’ve been praying for awhile. I am grateful for the conversations and the people there.
When we left and were headed home it was like walking back to reality and away from the spirituality of Shabbat dinner. The Shabbat energy was still with me and made me realize how special it is to be able to experience and embrace the beauty of Shabbat, a “soul day”. I am so grateful and extremely happy with the way I was share Shabbat dinner with my parents this past week. May this week be filled with much health, happiness, safety and blessings!
Good things and much change are coming. I can feel it in my bones and my soul!
What powerful words, “Jerusalem, if I forget you…”. I’m definitely missing Jerusalem and Israel in general. It may have to do with getting back into the habit of University life, the challenge of Shabbat or all the posts dedicated to the passing of Ariel Sharon. Israel feels like family and right now I’m really missing it. May I never forget Jerusalem. Its also cool because now I have memories of Jerusalem and its not just another place where alot has happened, currently happens and will happen. When you are in Jerusalem its the first time I really felt connected to past, present and future. It must be an even closer connection to G-d.
While in Tzfat we heard from this mystical artist who was excited and enthusiastic about Kabbalah and deep profound thoughts of life. It reminded me of a mystical life coach that came to my synagogue back in June. That man taught us how Jewish mysticism can be related to reaching life goals. It was cool.
As I’ve been seeming to get sick and lose my voice more and more on this trip my friend made a challenge. Since I was using unkosher cough drops but they were not helping, my friend suggested that I stop taking cough drops and just eat oranges and orange juice whenever offered. I took the challenge and even threw away the bag of cough drops. To let you know my voice got worse, especially that night when I literally had to stop talking. The next morning I was really quiet by the afternoon my voice was coming back all because I was eating oranges. Incredible!!
The rabbi on our trip was rather hip and really awesome. Each day he started our adventure with thought provoking questions, thoughts and topics. For today he began with, “who are you?” The guy sitting next to me turned and asked me first, slightly joking, I could tell he was serious though. It was really great to be having such a meaningful conversation, it definitely helps create strong bonds with all those who I shared deep intellect with on the trip. We talked about life and being Jewish, who we are and what we allow to define us. It was really awesome and reminded me how we are not alone. My new friend told me of this book, The Garden of Emuna (faith) which focuses on three main points:
1. Believe in G-d
2. Everything happens for a reason
3. Everything happens for the best
I couldn’t agree more and it led to even more things to talk about. It was cool because I had two great prayer books with me. I pulled them out and shared them with him. One is a daily inspiration/devotional book to help you focus on truly living each day to its fullest. The other is simple prayers for any type of feelings, actions, thoughts or words that you are struggling with.
Because of these deep life philosophical conversations it helped me to put things into perspective better. When we were at Cesarea it made this encounter with a local mean so much more. She was so excited for us to be there and she told us we would have a great time. We may not have crossed paths with her had we been on the original flight. It just makes you think more and I love when this happens. I feel closer with G-d and I realize more how much His hand is choreographing each moment and being in the Universe. Talk about beautifully overwhelmed.
We’re still on day one here…
Today has felt like the day that doesn’t end. I finally met 12 or so of my group members. I was so nervous for nothing. The moment I met two other group members we hit it off and starting talking and asking questions and were all so relieved that so far everyone was cool. Seriously felt like I could breathe again.
Then we found out since our next flight was delayed that we would be going to a hotel soon. But, not for another 2 hours!!! Seriously could I possibly spend any more time in this same terminal. Thankfully a couple more group members showed up and we decided to explore. We hopped on the airport train and rode over to another terminal with more food. Finally to get some real food in my body made me soooo happy! It was such a blast getting lost in the airport to find food and it was so worth it.
Finally at 5:30pm we got picked up and taken to the hotel. Mind you I was at the airport since like 7am. Then we got another dinner that the airline provided and it was suprisingly edible. It was even good. A few more girls from our group met up with us. It was such a bonding experience; asking questions and joking and just having a carefree good time. Lots of laughter. Its been so interesting and real!
I say interesting in a good way, because it was the first time I was with the group and I was happily suprised at how well we got along and yet how different we all were. It was refreshing because we are all jews and I guess I didn’t know what to expect since I’m not from an area with many jews.
It’ll be interesting to see how this trip goes and it hasn’t even started. It stills feels so unreal!! I’m hoping that tomorrow things will go more smoothly. I pray for us to have a safe trip and to be protected.
Today has been so long, I’m so tired and ready to sleep, to hopefully be well rested for the exciting trip ahead.