Written by Noam B. '16
Shabbat provided our group a unique experience to bond together outside of the context of science and technology, without phones or lab tours, and enjoy the atmosphere of Shabbat in Israel. In the morning, the group went on a morning hike to Tel Hanaton while the six Shabbat observant students (which included myself) went to prayers with a family visiting the kibbutz. In usual Israeli fashion, we were greeted as if we were part of the family. Each family member came up to us and invited us to their services and asked us about our visit. The grandfather of the family, or tribe in his words, told us that he was a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel. The pride in his eyes as he pointed to his family, as a symbol of survival on the hands of persecution, was really inspirational and showed me how important family is to Israelis and the Jewish people.
Upon finishing services, we met up with the rest of the group to eat lunch at the Chadar Ochel (dining hall). We were treated to traditional Israeli Shabbat food such as cholent (stew) and schnitzel. After lunch, we met for a zug session, the first for some of us, during which we learned a Jewish text with our Israeli partners. When we reconvened as a group it was interesting to hear how every group interpreted the text differently, coming to various different conclusions from the same text. After some naps and hanging out, we ended Shabbat with a discussion led by one of the Technion students about the value and characteristics we see in our grandparents and ourselves, and which we wish to pass on to our grandchildren. It was interesting to see the similarities between the values of our grandparents, education and hard-work, as well as everyone’s description in the successes and failure of our grandparents to pass on the values to ourselves and the challenges we face in passing our values to the next generation.
The last activity of the day was a poike, a stew cooked in a cast-iron pot, over a bonfire. We were able to appreciate the informal time together as a group: breaking wood with the fire, watching youtube videos, and making preparations for the food. We made sure to fit in a game of Mafia during which Jesse, Ronen, and Elana “killed” off nearly everyone in the village until Micha and Maayan were able to save the city and vote them off. The lesson from the game: quiet players are the least suspect players and best at this game. We finished the night, removing the poike from the fire—sizzling with the smells of meat, rice, potatoes, and random spices—and enjoying the flavors of Israel as they warmed our bodies.
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