The past two weeks have been inspiring, uplifting, and fun (pictures below)!
After sadly saying "l'hitraot" to our British friends, we found ourselves a much smaller group of six girls. This gave us the opportunity for more flexibility in our learning, as well as closer interaction with the Bogrot who we've been sharing the Bet Midrash with.
On Erev Tisha B'av in the afternoon, we visited Yad Vashem where we heard a talk by Rabbi Haber, had time to visit the various museums and exhibits, and closed with a group discussion led by our Madrichot. A few hours later we were sitting on the grass outside Yemin Moshe, reading Megillat Eicha while looking out at the Walls of Yerushalayim. Rabbi Haber spoke to us about the paradox of observing Tisha B'av in what is very much a rebuilt Yerushalayim, while the most essential part is still in ruins. The following morning we gathered in the Bet Midrash at MMY to recite Kinot together as a group, led by Rabbi Katz and with additional explanations by some of the Bogrot.
The day after Tisha B'av, we piled onto a bus to join the Bogrot on their quick tiyul to the Galil. Getting to Kibbutz Lavi right after Chatzot on the 10th of Av was good timing - we headed straight for the swimming pool!
After a delicious dinner, a shiur in the evening and a delicious breakfast the next morning, we set out for our trip. We have been learning the laws of Shmita with Rabbi Haber this summer, and therefore it was particularly fascinating for us to travel to nearby Mitzpeh Netofa to meet with Mr. Udi Cohen, a religious farmer who took us into his vineyard to explain and show us the practical significance of much of what we've been learning, as well as the difficulties and challenges of observing Shmita in the modern world. Then we met up with Moshe Ben Baruch (MMY's famous tour guide) who took us on a hike in the Gilboa mountains, and then brought us to a natural spring for some refreshing swimming and a really great barbecue.
On Friday we visited the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv and then spent Shabbat in Ramat Bet Shemesh, hosted by Rabbi Katz and by some other MMY faculty members and alumnae (including Miriam and David Epstein, who made aliya a few weeks ago. They were on the Nefesh B'Nefesh flight that we greeted our first week!)
The next week, in addition to continuing our learning we found time to visit Rav Kook's house and Moshe Tzvi's incredible museum of Tehillim artwork, and had a really great time watching the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox defeat the Petach Tikva Pioneers in the new Israel Baseball League! Since this is the league's first year and most Israelis do not even know what baseball is, the professional sport has a bit of an informal nature to it! We caught a number of foul balls, and were able to hear 3-year-old Elchanan Haber sing "Take Me out to the Ball Game" over the PA system. It was also great to be able to buy Glatt Kosher hot dogs at the baseball game. And perhaps the best part was watching players from opposing teams join with fans for a post-game minyan for Maariv!!
Below are some picture highlights of the week. Now that the Bogrot are winding up their program, we are packing up for our final week where we will leave the Bet Midrash and take our Sefarim with us to the North for a week of learning, touring and fun in Tzfat, Tzipori and other places in the Galil Elyon. Stay tuned!