Hello family and friends! Here is a summary of my most recent vacation, which was about two month ago haha, there was so much to write I was overwhelmed. It started with the holiday of Sukkot where we decorated, ate, and slept in our sukkah. It felt great to sleep outside under the stars and have a sleepover with the girls
Me decorating the Sukkah!
The outside of our sukkah
Then I left for Jerusalem to spend some of Sukkot with a family I met on my previous trips to Israel. They are a young couple and her family was from Britain and they took me in as their own, which is nice because I am so far from you all. But of course you could never be replaced :)
One special day of Sukkot there was an art and music fair at a moshav (town), I went with a few girls from my school and we walked around looking at the different arts and crafts and beautiful people. The music was very spiritual and uplifting and it was inspiring to see all different types of Jews singing and dancing together. I almost felt like I was at home at a festival in Isla Vista because everyone was so loving and free. I most recently went back to spend Shabbat there with a family who I met at the festival. They were so chill, the father is a musician who used to play in Rev Shlomo Carlebach’s band! Rev Shlomo is a huge musical and spiritual inspiration for me. He had a whole recording studio in his basement with old records and a disco ball, I felt like I was transported back to the 70s! There is a nearby forrest, which his son showed me around, there was a lemon tree grove and even ruins from the Maccabees, just in time for Hanukkah. It was a lovely time!
My California girls at the Moshav fair!
I also went into Mea Shearim, an extremely religious neighborhood, where there were tons of Hasidim (a type of religious person), I felt out of place being in such a different environment then I was used to, but one woman took us to a concert with a folk Jewish band and then I felt more at home. Although those people live a different life then myself, it is important to remember that we are all Jews and are connected in that way.
For Simchat Torah (the holiday where we end and begin the Torah), I went to a neighborhood in Jerusalem where there are a mix of people, and I went to a temple where there was so much singing and dancing, it was amazing! Men and women danced and sang for hours, songs that celebrated the Torah and the Jewish people. It was inspiring to be around these people because they had such a zest for life and were very spiritual. I was able to connect with that aspect, rather than the normal prayers that occur at shul it’s hard for me to understand because everything is in Hebrew, but with music it doesn’t matter if I understand the words haha.
After this we headed to one of the 4 holy cities of Israel, Tiberias, the city of Water. Tiberias is right on the Kineret (Sea of Galilee), we headed across the sea to a place that is popular for camping. We met up with a couple friends there and pretty much had the whole campsite to ourselves. It was by far the most relaxing time. My friend brought a paddleboard and I went for the first time, it was invigorating and freeing. We spent the whole day in the water and went night swimming by the moonlight. It was really a place to gather my thoughts and be in touch with nature. The boys we were with made the campfire, of course, because we all know our family doesn’t mess with that lol.
Paddle boarding on the Kineret!
Me, Sara, and Sophie in Tiberias. Sara is my madricha (counselor) who also went to UCSB!
Enjoying the water and sun on Dugit Beach.
I also traveled north to Tzfat to visit a family I am very close with, the Fowlers. They were the JAM family in Santa Barbara so I would go to them for Shabbat every week, play with their kids and learn from them. It was great to see them and tour around the Old City of Tzfat, where the father now works at the Yemenite pancake restaurant. He made us a special pancake pizza with sheep cheese, my first time trying it. Tzfat is known as one of the 4 holy cities and the element of Air. It is the center of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism and is a very special place.
Me and Yehuda, kinda my Rabbi, and yes that is his real hair.
My friend Sophie and I with our special Yemenite pizza!
All together with my fieldtrip to Hebron at the beginning of the break, I visited all 4 of Israel’s holy cities in 1 month! It was such a unique experience to see the different aspects of the land and meet a variety of different people along the way.
Hope to hear about what you all are doing, be in touch!