Shabbat Shalom Micah Families and Friends!
I’m writing to you on our first Shabbat in Israel while the kids are enjoying some pool time. We have nearly completed our first week in Jerusalem and still can’t believe we’re here! After a very long flight, PCR testing, and serological testing, we were finally released…into quarantine at our hotel in Neve Ilan, a moshav outside Jerusalem. We wanted nothing more than to take in the sights but knew a day in our air-conditioned hotel rooms was a small price to pay to gain entry into this beautiful country! Luckily the kids had had some practice with Zoom over the last year so we kept ourselves busy with virtual games, riddles, contests, trivia, and even an optional cardio class.By Wednesday morning we were given the green light by the Ministry of Health and we ventured into Jerusalem. We split into groups to complete a scavenger hunt in the Old City before we had our first voucher lunch where the kids loved finally being able to choose their own food! Next up we toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was buried, and we were fortunate to observe a procession being held.On Thursday the group trekked through Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel, a dark and narrow tunnel the Jews built to transport food and water to the City of David during a siege in biblical times. We walked single-file through waist-deep freezing water and Sam even convinced everyone to leave their flashlights behind! At night we visited the Kotel. It was the first time many had been to the wall so we led groups of five at a time with their eyes closed up to an overlooking view of the wall so they could open their eyes and take in one of Judaism’s holiest sites together, hand in hand. We then had the kids write letters to themselves about their hopes, feelings, and expectations for their time in Israel and we will hand these back to them at the end of our trip. Being at the Kotel was an emotional and spiritual experience for many and further cemented their bond to one another.Yesterday we walked around a Biblical Landscape Preserve where archaeological remains and cisterns were found, indicating a stop on an ancient route that pilgrims used for water, produce, and wine while on their way to the temple in Jerusalem. We prepared hyssop seasoning (Za’atar) and pita bread. Next we headed to a very busy market at Machane Yehuda and it seemed as if all of Jerusalem and every tour group had the same idea! The kids haggled for clothes, jewelry, fruit, and rugelach before we headed back to get cleaned up for Shabbat. After watching the sunset together we sat in a close circle for our first Micah in Israel Shabbat. Zach Wolkon and Ben Levinson volunteered to lead our special service with Sam Marram leading the prayers on guitar. We surrendered our phones for the evening and were fully present with each other to soak in every moment of our first Shabbat together since 2019.This morning my running club completed 6 miles in a stunning national forest by the hotel while most took advantage of their first opportunity to sleep in. Then more singing, dancing and praying at our Shabbat service before lunch. Today has been a lot of free time to rest as Israelis do not drive on Shabbat. We’re looking forward to Havdalah tonight and our week ahead which will begin by moving to the Negev on Monday!With overwhelming gratitude,