Day 28 (08/05/17)

We began our final Shabbat  by driving to the old city and going to the Kotel. After lighting the shabbat candles, the men headed over to their side, and the women to their own; we met up by the wall dividing us, and began singing Shabbat songs. Because we were divided, making it harder to hear one another, our voices began to rise. Louder and louder our hearts sang, until people began to take notice of what our TJJ Bus 5 family was doing. With a kotel packed with people, soon many from either side of the division began joining us in song. We were not only singing, but we were also joyously dancing, as we welcomed Shabbat. After this, we walked up to a place called Netiv Aryeh, which had a beautiful overlook of the entire Western Wall. We washed hands, said other prayers and had a delicious shabbat dinner. Being able to have Shabbat dinner at Netiv Aryeh was such an incredible experience. After dinner we went back down to the kotel for one last time, and then walked for over an hour, back to our hotel.

The next morning we had a learning session, kiddush, and a chaburah session. In the chaburah session we learned about Jewish survival, how important it is, and how it just takes one of us to make generations of differences. This was followed by some free time, and then we had another session; this time about values. Making us challenge them and think to ourselves why we place each value on our priority lists in different ways.  The TJJ Bus 5 family later met in the program room and got into a large circle. We were each handed a piece of paper, and went one by one to read them out loud. On each one, it said 1. My name is… 2. I received the torah from… 3. And passed it to… At the end of this activity, it was easy to see how far along the torah had come. Starting from Moshe Rabbeinu, to being traced all of the way back to us.

For one of the final Shabbat activities, we all went up to the roof of the hotel which had a pretty clear view of the holy city, and had our last ebbing. We gathered in a circle and sang songs as the sun faded into the ground, making the experience a whole lot more amazing. Afterwards, we had our final havdalah together as a family. Full of joy and sadness at the thoughts of soon leaving each other, we sang our hearts out and stomped our feet as loud as possible (though it was all very off beat haha). Therefore, ending our last Shabbat together and our last day in Israel together. It could not have been better.

-Naomi Kessler (Saint Louis, MO)