Today was a lesson in giving. We started the day with a bus ride to Safed. There we enjoyed the beautiful mountain view from half a mile above sea level. Safed is a center for Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. We learned about the importance of mitzvahs and how Kabbalah followers believe that we can heal the world through positive acts and good deeds.
To demonstrate the importance of positivity we watched an artist named Sheva Chaya at work in her glassblowing and painting gallery. Her work embodies the light which is so intrinsic to Kabbalah.
The informative activities of the morning flowed into an afternoon of community service with Livnot Ulehibanot- to build and to be rebuilt. As a group we worked together to clear the yard of a low income housing project. It was a blessing for us to be able to give back in light of the incredible gift of the birthright trip.
We finished today with a fun dinner out in Tiberias and a walk on the boardwalk of the Sea of Galilee.
One of my favorite parts of the day was when we went to see the glass blowing and to hear about Cabalah. The women who spoke to us, Sheva Chaya, not only blew glass, but painted as well. She was an artist who loved to work with a lot of bright, vibrant, lively colors. She started off by telling us a little bit about herself and how she came to Israel. She grew up in Denver, Colorado and was not very religious. At the age of seventeen she went on a trip to Israel and fell in love. She really loved the environment and energy there and learned a lot more about Judaism. While she was there she got Bat Mitzvahed and found out what her Hebrew name was and meant: Sheva Chaya= 7 Lives. Later when she was in Princeton, she wanted to find out the meaning of her English name and found out that it meant dark and coincidently her first painted when she still identified with her English name used dark colors. Later, when she made Aliyah and took on her Hebrew name she began to paint using a variety of bright colors. She then told us about how she tries to pick out at least one nice thing about a person. While telling her story and teaching us about her thoughts and beliefs, she began to blow glass. She started by taking two pieces of glass, heating them, and then connecting them. She then told us how they added color to the pieces of glass: they used pieces of color sand/ broken glass and rolled the heated glass in it. After that she began to blow into the glass and form a shape. In the end, she made a beautiful pomegranate candle cover; pomegranates were a popular theme in her glass art. When she was done, we were able to walk around and look at her art. A few purchased some of her paintings in smaller form, which she was nice enough to sign for us. The piece I bought was a beautiful simple stroke painting of a mother and her child dancing. It reminded me a lot of my mom and I. It was amazing to watch her create a piece of art right in front of our eyes, to see her other art, and to hear about her story. It was an experience that I will never forget.
We spent most of our 3rd day in Israel in Svat. The city itself is incredibly interesting and different than anything we’ve really experienced before. But the people may be even more interesting. A few of us were walking around the city trying to kill some time before we left and we met a man named Moshe. I had seen this guy earlier in the day laying out bread and French Toast for the stray animals wandering the city and trying to capture doves by sneaking up on them. He was unsuccessful though. He was wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat and shirt so he spent a little bit of time telling us how great they were and how they needed to get back to the World Series to beat the Yankees. In addition, he told us a bunch of stories about him seeing a white donkey that turned to be the messiah, or how he wanted to eat the dove he was trying to capture. He actually had a bunch of interesting things to say, but I’m sure that all of us that met him are going to remember Svat in part due to Moshe. He had been to Israel countless times and was really passionate about it, like most of the people we’ve met here are.
To bring an end to a great day, Marty, our tour educator, took a bunch of us to the cow sheds on the kibbutz. After a short walk, we quickly knew we arrived due to the overpowering smell. We met the baby cows who were born this week and stuck our fingers in their mouth. As we watched them getting milk, we learned about the process it entails; the cows are hooked up to machines, which pumped their milk. The machine keeps track of the quantity, quality, and bacteria level of the milk. When the cows were done being pumped, they got released from the machines. Then we were all in for a surprise. To continue the food cycle, most of them started pooping. Two of us were in the splash zone. Their reactions kept us laughing the entire time back.