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  • Flo Laguardia

Day 6: Shabbat in Jerusalem

Shabbat: An Island in Time

It has been a surreal week being in Israel for the first time at that. You read about the country, say the prayers, see pictures, but it's so much better setting foot foot on the holy land. Experiencing Shabbat in Israel is one memory I'll carry with me forever. After being at the Kotel  (Western Wall) twice, and sharing dinner with 500 women of the JWRP, this Shabbat experience is printed indelibly in my mind.

Today we attened a talk about "Discovering the Real You" by Nili Couzens." What is your purpose here on earth? She describes three types of personalities: a Chayim (thinker), a B'racha (feeler), and a Tov (doer). Being cognizant of your true purpose requires much self reflection and honesty. As Dr. Seuss says in one of his anecdotes, "There is no one alive that is your than you." A theme I've learned from this quite brilliant discussion is to love yourself for who you are, imperfections and all. When you love yourself, you give so much more to the world. The word "love" in Hebrew is ahava from the root hav which means to give.

The next meeting was with Adrienne Gold, who engages us in "Teaching Our Children Values: The Gift of Generosity." Each of us has a soul. It is our responsibility as parents to raise and cherish our child's unique soul. Teach them compassion, empathy, gratitude, and kindness. The best way to do that is be an example and live those values ourselves.

After the morning session, our group walked to our hosts' home for Shabbat lunch. Our lovely hosts were Danielle and Shimshon Cook. She is Israeli, but lived in a variety of places growing up, including South Africa and Toronto. He is a 6'2" ginger haired Texan who converted as a Yemenite Jew. Yemenite Jews are usually short and dark skinned, so Shimshon doesn't quite fit the mold of the typical Yemenite Jew, but he read Hebrew beautifully and shared with us his thoughts on the Torah portion of the week. The delicious lunch was provided by "Shabbat of a Lifetime." What a way to experience Shabbat . . . lunch in the heart of Israel, being able to talk and dine with our host family in their home. Quite priceless.

After some time to rest in the afternoon, we gathered as 300 JWRP women for Seudah Shlisheet (The third meal) and havdalah. The evening was free. Some of us went to dinner on Ben Yehudah Street, some went to Mamilla Mall, and some to the Old City for a tour of the Kotel Tunnels. Shavuah Tov from Jerusalem.


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