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Shabbat in Jerusalem

Shabbat in Jerusalem
24 Feb 2018 by Susan Anderson

On our seventh day, it was Shabbat. After those seven days of early mornings into late evenings of learning, exploring, processing, discovering and opening ourselves up to more emotions, questions and feelings than we ever thought possible we were very ready for Shabbat.  The morning started off slow wih some people opting to explore the city on foot, have a late, leisurely breakfast, find a new delicious coffee spot or catch up on some much needed sleep. At 10:30am, we all came together after our mornings in smaller groups or alone in Haatzmaut park.  We brought yoga mats onto the grass, gathered as close together as we could to begin our Shabbat experience. "Look where we are!" Shira gestured to the sky and our surroundings. To be together, in the middle of Jerusalem, experiencing this beautiful curated Shabbat celebration was absolutely incredible. 

The park was full of different prayer groups, families enjoying the warm weather with a picnic or reading books, a group of people playing Frisbee and many people walking their dogs. We drew some attention and a handful of people came close and even joined in by sitting nearby or jumping on a yoga mat and going through the poses with us.  The community that we felt together began to blossom into the community of all of those around us. We weren't all saying the same prayers in the same way, but we were together in that beautiful park, called to be outside and experience something personal, but together. 

The Shabbat experience incorporated song, prayer and chanting led by Shira Kline and special guests Yoel Sykes and Daphna Rosenberg from Nava Tehila. It didn't take long for our entire group to be surrounded by harmony as we came together over words both familiar and new.  Mary led us in "embodied morning prayer" stretching our bodies and breathing deeply. Laurie helped us explore our Spiritual Wardrobe and we ended dancing in a glorious smush. 

After a quick lunch back at our hotel, we had some free time to use as we wished.  Everyone split off into small groups, some to do more exploring or shopping and a small group of us went to the Israel Museum.  

The museum wasn't very crowded and full of interesting exhibits. It felt good to quietly walk in between exhibits and see everything from the modern Ai Weiwei exhibit to the Dead Sea Scrolls and everything in between.  The museum was surrounded by a gorgeous outdoor art garden that led to a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.  An exhibit of chimes filled the air with delicate music as you explored all of the different paths and sculptures. 

This Ai Weiwei installation made entirely of Lego definitely spoke to the early childhood educator in me!

We returned to the hotel with enough time to quickly get ready to meet back at the park for Havdalah. We sat in the falling twilight and allowed ourselves to really feel the transition from Shabbat to the week. We waited for stars to appear in the Jerusalem sky and were led in meditative music by Shira and guest vocalist Netanel Goldberg. "Sing however you need to to sing yourself home" Netanel guided us. Again, our voices raised into the skies of Jerusalem as we huddled closer than we thought possible and whispered a holy goodbye to Shabbat as darkness swept over the park. 




















Each day on this trip I experience amazing things that will be forever solidified in my memory, but I think that Shabbat in Jerusalem, surrounded by this group of women, wrapped in songs, prayers and chants that have become a comforting soundtrack to my every day thoughts...this may be the memory that shines the brightest.