ILSI: Shabbat in Tzfat

Friday morning we drove up to the mystical city of Tzfat. One of the four holy cities in Israel, Tzfat is a center for Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. We had a great opportunity to learn about Kabbalah from Avraham Lowenthal, an artist in Tzfat who emigrated from America in search of more spiritual life. From there, our tour in the afternoon showed us the history of this amazing city –it’s an influence on Jewish tradition, the home of Kabbalah, and Kabbalah masters. In fact, it was here that Lecha Dodi and other prayers from Kabbalat Shabbat were written. During our time touring, praying and shopping, we always felt the wind and the spirit of the city.

For Friday night services, we celebrated Shabbat in a unique fashion. The boys mixed with locals and other groups, at a Carlebach style synagogue. The men and women of this synagogue welcome Shabbat each week in energetic dance and joyous prayer. We sang and danced with them outside, as the sunset behind the mountains of Tzfat. For many of us, it was the first time we experienced a Kabbalat Shabbat like that. The girls hosted their own Shabbat services overlooking the beautiful background with a women’s empowerment themed Shabbat service. We joined back together after prayers to eat together.

Saturday morning, we had many elective options, some led by teens and others by staff. The topics included philosophy, women in the Bible, border disputes around the world, Jewish life on college campuses, and much more. After Shabbat, we boarded our buses and drove to the city of Tiberias for a little shopping and to explore the boardwalk. We left the port on a boat cruise around the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee. We had a lot of fun sharing different dances, music and we danced the night away!

Today we arrived in Jaffa and spent the day learning about the historic port city and the residents of the city, while also taking time to do a little shopping. We are now in Tel Aviv and looking forward to our day tomorrow experiencing all the city has to offer!  

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