This week was short due to the upcoming holiday of Sukkot, but it was still jam packed with activities!
The students made Sukkah decorations during their apartment meetings on Sunday. Apartment 6 created the best decorations, a family portrait of themselves drawn by Heidi David. Each of the girls went an extra step and added their favorite quotes. I also spoke to all of the students about our monthly topic for October, God and Religion. The purpose of this month is to ask questions about this topic. Throughout the month, the students will have activities and tours related to the topic.
On Monday we got together and built our Aardvark sukkah. Daphne Wornovitzky and Carli Grossman hung the fabric while the boys of apartments 3, 7, and 9 put the walls up. Afterwards, we all sat in the sukkah, ate pizza, and spoke about all the things that we want to do over the next 7 days in the sukkah. Some students want to take the next few days and hike the Israeli trail. Some students want to take advantage of the time off to rest and sleep. Others are getting ready to experience their first Sukkot in Jerusalem and see everything that it has to offer here.
For Selah on Monday, we went to the Shuk Arbat Haminim (the Lulav, Etrog, Arava and Hadassim) and had a photography workshop. The theme of the morning was Joy and the aim was to capture photos of this theme. We learned a lot about photography, Sukkot, and the people who came to buy a Lulav and Etrog. Some students even bought a set for themselves for the holidays and Rabbi Marc bought a set for everyone to use.
On Tuesday, for our weekly siyur, we had a really nice day outside of Jerusalem. The group traveled to Alon, a small yeshuv in the Judean Desert where Debbie, our director, lives with her family. We started the tour at an interesting lookout over the area and heard the story of the community living in the yeshuv. After a short tour of Alon, we had a nice walk to the Ein Mebua spring located nearby. The spring is a lovely place and the students enjoyed a dip in the water. During our time in Ein Mebua we also enjoyed a relaxed BBQ at Debbie’s house with her family and we all had a fun afternoon. We also hiked to a monastery in the middle of the desert, St. George’s Monastery, which was founded in the fourth century by a few monks who sought the desert experiences of the prophets and settled around a cave. The coolest part of the day was to sit down after an awesome BBQ and play Israeli songs on the guitar with the students.
On Tuesday evening, we had another Faces of Israel activity, called Café Dilemma. We brought in some members of Jerusalem’s reform community and discussed contemporary dilemmas faced by Jewish communities. For example, if Jewish summer camps are only for Jewish people. Carli Grossman said, “One of the dilemmas we discussed in this week’s activity made me realize that as Jews we should be more inclusive to others due to the fact that we have been persecuted for so many years.” The madrichim (counselors) turned our Ulam into a coffee house, and served the students drinks and desserts.
Next week, even though we will not be going to our volunteering activities, we are planning to explore Jerusalem like true Israelis, such as attending Birkat Kohanim (the high priestly blessing) at the Kotel (Western Wall) and several fairs throughout the city. In particular, we cannot wait to sit in our Aardvark Jerusalem family Sukkah and eat, sleep, and laugh as we enjoy the holiday.
Wishing you and your families a Chag Sameach and all the best.