These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

A Shabbat Experience

Posted on January 7, 2012 by Andrea Wiese

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All week I had been excited to spend my Shabbat in the “Gush” with two of my teachers. They always have students in their homes for Shabbat, and the anticipation had been building since I heard about other students wonderful experiences.

We (Hannah, Yishai, and Amber) left Jerusalem around 1:30, which was way too early, but we didn’t want to be late for Shabbat! It was wonderful that we were early because we got to help make challah.

Yishai and Hannah making challah!
We’re ready for Shabbat!!!!
Fun challah shapes!
Right after candle lighting we went to shul at a beautiful synagogue right in the middle of the town. There were two, one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi. The outsides were parallel structures, but the insides were very different and reflected each culture. Kabbalah Shabbat was traditional and relaxing, followed for Maariv.
We then we went Michael’s (my academic adviser at Pardes) house for Shabbat dinner. They have five children, but only four were at home. One was in a neighboring community for a Bar Mitzvah. I cannot describe how much love I felt in this home.  All the children were so respectful of each other. The mother had one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard, and when she was singing the Shabbat prayers it was like the music was going directly into your soul. All the kids couldn’t wait for their Shabbat blessings from their dad, and they all had the utmost respect and love for their parents. We listened to a Dvar Torah (a speech about the weekly Torah portion) and sang songs and ate DELICIOUS food! We also answered questions in one of the daughter’s school books in Hebrew about the weekly Torah portion which was really fun! Also, their oldest son beat me at 3 games of backgammon, I would call that Shabbat luck.
After a brisk and chilly short walk home we sat around Tovah Leah’s table and talked some more until we were all too tired to schmooze anymore. In the morning, I didn’t wake up! And Tovah Leah woke up, but we were late to shul and I missed Michael singing from the Torah! I was really upset! I will have to ask him for a repeat at school this week, I heard he was fabulous and I don’t doubt it one bit.
Lunch was just as warm and loving as dinner the night before. Tovah Leah’s cooking is amazing! Her husband is also a wonderful role model of a loving father and husband.  We talked about Torah and Judaism and our lives. And we laughed and sang.
After Mincha we took a walk around Alon Shvut and Tovah Leah pointed out Jerusalem, Hevron, and other surrounding villages. The place is so beautiful and air is so fresh and clean.  It’s hard to realize that these homes are so political when things are so calm and peaceful. From this perspective, it is much easier to understand “the settler movement.” Yishai described Alon Shvut the best, he said, “Torah is alive here.” And he’s right. The entire community is living in the way of Torah, from the smallest Halakah, to the simplest commandments of respecting your parents and love your neighbor.
It was really a Shabbat, a peace, a love, and an experience I will never forget.