Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Giving of the Torah: A Gift of Waking Up!



Written by: Current Mayanot Men's Program Student Jonathan Stebbins

Shavuot is the one of three nights a year we stay up all night. On purpose!
Loud arguments, gentle prayers, long readings, a nation of words finding its voice.

So what was it like to be there? On the ground-reporting 3,300 years ago?
“The Day of the Giving of the Torah..”  (deep announcer voice)
On this, the most momentous day in history, the Jews OVERSLEPT…..


In honor of this occasion, it is a custom, to stay awake all throughout the night learning Torah. Not to repeat the mistakes of our past.
There is much to be derived from the idea of sleeping and our People having overslept.

They say the deepest sleep is right before daybreak. Our generation is on the eve of the Redemption. What that means to me, the increase in justice, prosperity, and peaceful revelation are signs of the times, the world in a sense, preparing itself for a new reality. But we’re still asleep, our G-dly core has taken a vacation to some land of dreams while we’re left to see this world with only human eyes, only the micro-perspective. We must help each other wake up. We need to wake up to our eternal heritage and the beauty within.

In our so-called modern world, we’re told of infinite possibility. We can make a utopia, we can live in outer space, we can give everyone happiness, and prosperity, for no effort, we can do this that and the other thing if only we all get on board. And so we all get on board. We’re told that everything humans ever did was because of our ingenuity, our accomplishment, our industry. That’s how we got to this sophisticated modern world of luxury, by our efforts alone. So let’s ramp it up, they say. Let’s make everyone participate. The whole world will adopt our ways, our ideas, they’ll all sacrifice their lives to create taller buildings and bigger economies and advanced technologies and new philosophies, and then we can finally make a world where we no longer need G-d. The primitives of the past needed faith, but not us. We will “back up our own hard drive,” we’ll make it on our own. And yet so many of us are convinced. Or at least feel obligated to bow to these ideas. And we throw away our eternal heritage in the process. It’s true that many theories sound brilliant, but brilliance isn’t truth.

G-d has given each of us a mission. We are delivery drivers. Our job is to deliver G-dliness into this world, one package at a time.  So we study Torah, perform mitzvos, and we expand our circle to include every Jew in acts of loving kindness. And no matter where we go we find a way to do those three things. And then no matter where our feet may lead we are playing our role in the spiritual economy, bringing blessings down through every heavenly chanel into this physical world, where we can try to provide the entire world with goodness, joy, and light.

To me, studying Torah is about awareness, waking up to the fact that we have a great potential to do good on earth and help each other. Let’s use this celebration of Shavuot to wake up, to transform ourselves, use our awareness to be better, do better and help others do the same.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

How Mayanot Changed My Life!


My Background:


Growing up, if you were to ask friends and family to describe me, they would probably say that I was quiet, shy, creative, kind, or curious, but, aside from maybe my mother, no one would have said that I was spiritual. I was raised in a microcosm of intellectuals, where spirituality was frowned upon and considered impractical and just short of useless. And so I learned, through osmosis, to shut down my spiritual side, to tuck it away somewhere where it couldn’t disturb me or distract me from life.

I continued on this path for many years, focusing my precious energy on the “important” things in life, like school, piano lessons, dance class, or Hebrew school, all the while, my spirituality was festering in some dark corner inside, like a forgotten meal at the back of the fridge. As the years passed, it became harder and harder to ignore the smell of my fermenting spiritual self, yet I was stubborn, (another adjective friends or family might use to describe me) and refused to listen to that part of me, which cried out to be nurtured.


Needless to say, I was not such a happy camper in those days. I went through the motions and stages of life without much enthusiasm or joy. I didn’t even care to attend my high school or college graduations – such milestones were just another notch in the belt for me. I probably would have continued on that path to this day if G-d hadn’t stepped in and decided to take over the reins. (Well He was always there, I just didn’t see it that way in those days.)

My Turning Point:

After having graduated college and working a couple of unsatisfying jobs, I was in a real slump when I received a phone call from Mushky, a girl from our local Chabad, who wanted to know if I was interested in volunteering with her once a week. She told me that she was starting a local chapter of the organization Friendship Circle, a Chabad based organization that paired mentors with learning-impaired peers within the local Jewish community. Having had a bit of experience with learning-impaired kids, I quickly agreed, and Mushky and I began our weekly visits with our new friend Jenny.

I really enjoyed visiting Jenny. She was outgoing, friendly, and fun and I think she knew how to bring me and Mushky out of our shells. That year passed quickly, and before I knew it, summer was upon us and Mushky told me she was planning to go away for a six week break in Israel. I was happy for her, and also disappointed that we wouldn’t be visiting Jenny together that summer. I told Mushky as much, and she replied by inviting me to come to Israel with her!

I had attended Birthright during college, which was the start of my love affair with Israel, but I had thought that Israel was “way out of my league” and that I wouldn’t have another change to glance upon its beautiful shores or ancient old city walls for a very long time. Mushky’s invitation seemed unreal and unattainable to me, so I turned her down, but whenever I would see her, she kept bringing it up, and the more I thought about it, the more realistic it sounded. Mushky described to me this wonderful place of learning, called Mayanot, that she would be going to. With warm, intelligent teachers, fun fieldtrips, and good food, it was sure to be the experience of a lifetime.


As a kid, I had enjoyed learning about my Jewish roots in Hebrew school, and always looked forward to the High Holidays each year. In fact, I understood that Temple was the one place where spirituality was sort of accepted. Now, as a college grad, I reflected back fondly on those times, and thought to myself: “what the heck, I’ll go to Israel; I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.” Although I didn’t know it then, I was about to embark on a new and beautiful life-long journey.

My Mayanot Experience:

I arrived at Mayanot at about midnight, one cool dewy night in July, and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a bunch of friendly, cheerful, and curious young women. They were eager to introduce themselves to me and ask me all about myself. A few of them helped me settle in and to my amazement, offered to stay up all night with me if I were jetlagged! I politely declined, but decided that if these were the kind of people I was going to spend my summer with, it was going to be great! I couldn’t have been more right.

The next day, as more students and shluchas (peer teachers) arrived, I began meeting the teachers and some of the staff. I was surprised at how they just blended in with all the students and hung out with us. It was fun getting to know them on a personal level before our classes even started, and when we did finally settle down into our classes, I already felt really comfortable with my teachers, and I know the other students did too! None of us had any qualms about getting right down to the nitty- gritty questions!

As my six weeks at Mayanot marched on, I realized how much I was learning and soaking into my soul. I realized how happy I was, and wanted to stay longer. Before the end of the six weeks, I decided I would stay at Mayanot and keep learning for at least another six months. That six months ended up turning into a full year, and that full year ended up turning into a life-long connection to many wonderful women, teachers, and the land of Israel. 


Today, I live in Israel where I am building my family and continuing to enrich my life with Torah and mitzvos, and with G-d’s help, passing this beautiful legacy on to my children. 

Written by: Sarah (Kramer) Rosen, Mayanot Alumna class of 2008-9

Monday, April 15, 2019

Pesach Mazal Tov's

Mazal Tov to the entire Mayanot Family!
May we all have much simcha and nachas

Babies:
Camille and Mathew Altman had a baby girl
Monica and Sholom Babayov had a baby boy
Shana and Andy Balkin had a baby girl
Zehava Bracha and Baruch Arky had a baby boy
Kira and Yehonatan Ben-Israel had a baby girl
Nora and Ori Bergman had a baby boy
Miri and Dovid Birk had a baby boy 
Maayan and Yaakov Dahan had a baby boy 
Batya and Kalman Delmoor had a baby girl
BrookeLynne and Shmuel Dukes had a baby boy
Rebecca  and Yaakov Michael Gohds had a baby boy
Chava and Chaim Aharon Green had a baby boy
Yehudis and Nathan Hoffman
Chana and Joel Janovsky had a baby boy
Ilana and Yisroel Dovid Klein had a baby boy
Esther and Gabriel Kushnir had a baby girl
Shifra Chloe and Yaakov Segal had a baby boy 
Lily and Danny Langer had a baby girl
Chana (Engel) and Adam Nisanoff had a baby girl
Chana Leah and Shia Nochum had a baby boy
Sandra and Mendy Paul had a baby girl 
Sara and Beeno Plotkin had a baby girl
Rachel and Thomas Ryan had a baby boy
Sara and Yonasan Sanford had a baby boy 
Chana Michla Efrat and Yosef Yitzchak Shar had a baby girl
Yaella and Mendel Silverman had a baby girl
Chanee and Motti Yarmush had a baby boy
Xany and Shimon Zeidman had a baby girl

Weddings:
Rachel Pittelman and Moishe Chakoff  
Jemma Strauss and Samuel DeFelipp
Devorah Boree and Mordechai Moshe Dorfman
Taryn Melissa Kantor and David Leon Eliezer
Shifra Kornhauser to Yossi Gopin
Hadas Austin and Avrohom Gottleib
Sara Kashani and Yisroel Gutovitch
Stephanie Brown and Yitzi Hallen 
Isabella Sarcher and Eliezer Jensen 
Kaila Reiders and Netanel Kimchi
Yocheved Cohen and Adam Reich 
Schirley Msika and Ronnie Sternberg
Lea Tikva Saragosti and Daniel Wallach 

Special Mazal Tov to Yossi Shemtov (Jerusalem) and Esther Malka Weinberg (South Africa) on their recent engagement. Mazal Tov to the parents, 
Rabbi Dovid & Sara Weinberg and Rabbi Kasriel & Yaffa Shemtov

Special Mazal Tov to the grandparents, Esther & Ari Lauchter on the birth of their grandsons, twin boys born on Purim Katan, 

Mazal tov the parents Dovid & Shoshana Riesenberg!




(The Silverman Family)


On April 1st 2019, the Mayanot Women's Program Alumni 
celebrated three weddings in one night!
(Devorah Boree giving blessings before the wedding)

(Lea Saragosi and Danial Wallach)

(Jemma Strauss with friend and alumna, Esther Fuerster) 


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Our 40th Season!



The Mayanot Birthright Summer program is kicking off in May, with over 4000 young Jews from all over North America, set to experience Israel on a 10 day trip, with 40 peers – many visiting Israel for the first time in their lives.


Mayanot has been a certified trip organizer since the inception of Birthright Israel, 19 years ago. Much more than a free trip, it is a gift from the Jewish people to its younger members, aiming to ensure a vibrant Jewish future while enabling young Jewish adults to explore their heritage in an environment of healthy dialogue, and experiential education.


During their 10 days in Israel, the participants will be joined by a group of 6-8 Israelis – either soldiers or students – with whom they will share the journey of discovery, while learning to understand one another's culture. 


Together, they will visit the mystical city of Tzfat in the North, Tel Aviv's contemporary metropolis, Jerusalem's Old City and modern day central marketplace, Mt. Herzl military cemetery, the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial museum, and, after hiking Masada and floating in the Dead Sea, will sit round the camp fire by the Bedouin tents in the Negev Desert.

Registration is still open ..... so if you know someone that would benefit from the trip, definitely send them the link! www.MayanotIsrael.com











Thursday, April 4, 2019

Mayanot, The House on David Yellin St.



There is a house on David Yellin St. that’s earned quite a reputation. Three stories of solid white Jerusalem limestone sit behind a small white gate out front and a garden above. It’s a narrow street, just a single lane. This little street sits at the intersection of worlds. 

A half-kilometer to the south is the famous Jerusalem market, the “shuk”. All manner of shops and restaurants and bars push their fruits and sweets on the countless tourists streaming by. Even the Jerusalem folk navigate through the performers, and the visitors, and crowds, every Friday to make Shabbat happen. A little farther north is another big market street. Black hats, and white shirts, and wigs, and heads scarves, distract from the fact that the people here need to purchase food and clothes and support their families, as well. Sandwiched between the fast pace of the modern world and fast pace of the timeless world, are the people that are running about doing their errands and living their lives.

There are a number of houses on this little one-way road, some small, some grand, some loud, some quiet, but none are quite like the white stone house with the rooftop garden. This little house sits at the intersection of worlds. Teachers in black and white, students in colored plaid, men with great beards, boys with some or none, devoted chassidim and young adults from the Western world, all together to learn a shared past and create their future. A place where the old world gives birth to the new.


The house is full to overflowing, feet running up and down and all around all day long. There are classes and prayers and meals and late night conversations. A place where people want to learn and grow and get in touch with who they are. A place where success isn’t measured in fashion or fitness or scholarliess, where proving yourself simply means showing up, both in body and soul. A place that’s right here, in a time that’s right now, with a host of souls all making real bonds.


The house on David Yellin St. is a place where those who woke up one day and realized they didn’t have to be like everyone else soon find themselves. It’s a place run by people who serve others without submitting to them, who demonstrate how to serve something other than yourself. The house is a boiler room of sound, of passion, of fire. It’s a place hot enough to keep warm those in distant lands.


It’s also more than just pretty words. It’s a place where Jews come to learn about being Jews. And where else will you find a yeshiva where Jews can sing ancient melodies with all their heart in the basement one night and wake up for morning yoga on the rooftop, the next? Where else will you learn the mystical insights of simple Bible stories with black-coated chassidim with your fellow Western-born and raised American or South African or Venezuelan Jews?


Many a traveler has found their feet hitting the hard stone floors of the white stone house with suitcases always arriving or heading out. Hardly a week goes by without a new suitcase arriving upstairs. By plan or by providence. Those who connect find themselves surprised how they even arrived, plucked out of their daily expectations to a place that shockingly resonates.

The house on David Yellin St. is rather unassuming on first glance. The first thing a first-time visitor might notice would be the extensive library in every room. Every available space has become a place to hold classes and store books. From early morning till late evening, books are opened and learned and the sound of discussion echoes through the short halls. The main library is unlike most others in the Western world. If it’s quiet here, then something’s deeply wrong. The sounds here are certainly not silence. They’re sharp and alive all throughout the waking hours and often deep into the night.

The voices in this house are warm, personal, and uplifting. It’s an education in living, in being, in understanding identity and learning for the sake of learning. A bad educational system would be an academic rat race where success is measured by the student’s distance from his classmates. A good educational system would be where more knowledge equals a higher degree of responsibility to teach. The main program is meant for those who want to learn regardless of affiliation. No one is turned away for lack of knowledge, only for a lack of professed desire.

So what makes a house a home? The place you hang your hat? The place you legally own? Or is a home something more than a list of qualities, a poem of pretty words, rather a place where real relationships begin? The place where real connections take place, where you feel comfortable expressing more and more of who you are. The place where you are needed, the choice you don’t need to justify.

Not every place that people live is a home, but the house on David Yellin certainly is! This white stone house, only a few stories high with a little garden on top, with a white fence out front, sitting among the tan and winding streets of the growing City of Jerusalem, is a home to countless souls, and I am so grateful I am one of them. 

Written By: Jonathan Stebbins, Current Mayanot Student


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Student Spotlight: Doron Joffe


An interview with Doron Joffe, 2017 Mayanot Alum

When did you attend Mayanot and for how long?
I attended Mayanot in 2017 after high school. I was there for a year.

What was your favorite part of the program?
I loved the Fabrengens with the Rabbis. Whether it was on a Shabbos or on a Chassidic holiday.  It was vital for me to hear ideas about Judaism from Rabbis who are so experienced with people who come from similar backgrounds to me. 

What was your most memorable moment?
I will never forget a Fabrengen I had with Rabbi Wichnin (our Rosh Yeshivah). He was discussing the idea of "Didan Notzach" (we will be victories!) and its every-day life applications. What he said that day has formed the basis for my attitude throughout university life. I would do anything to be in that Fabrengen again.

What were the most valuable tools you took away from the program, academically and otherwise?   
Academically, I gained tools to help me decipher the words of the Gemara and its various commentaries. After Mayanot, I was equipped with the ability and knowledge to stand up and defend my Jewish beliefs in the academic world.

How do you use what you have learnt at Mayanot to help you in your life since you left?
After completing my year at Mayanot I came back with a dedication to Judaism and its values. These principles have helped me in my personal relationships and they have assisted me in the way I approach my academic  studies.  My university successes are no longer the be all and end all. Mayanot gave me the ability to look past the superficial aspects of my life and taught me to strive for what is truly meaningful, it gave me the tools to live a more inspired life.

In terms of being a light and helping other people connect to Judaism, how do you see your Mayanot experience impacting you?
The shluchim (assistant Rabbis) at Mayanot gave me an understanding of what it means to be a light to the nations. Through their attitudes on Mivtzoim I understood that their is no room for timidness when you are encouraging people to come closer to Judaism. Their dedication to this highlighted, for me, the importance of the Rebbes initiatives to help every Jew.

What are you up to now, career wise/ Jewishly and where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
I am currently studying Chemical Engineering at Wits University in Johannesburg. B"H I attend learning classes twice a week and I maintain my own learning schedule. I am active in my Chabad House and after Mayanot, I have a new appreciation to what shluchim (Chabad emissaries) stand for. This has led to the excellent relationship I have built with my local shliach, and I am very grateful for that.

If you could come back to Mayanot to learn, would you
If I could, I would be the first South African back in Mayanot, participating in those beautiful shiurim (classes). Thank you to Mayanot, the teachers, and all the staff for what they have given me and for what they have helped me take away and bring home with me, as well.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Summer Executive Learning Opportunity



We are excited to officially invite you to our
Summer Executive Learning Program, in Jerusalem!

If you are itching to get back to Mayanot,
or if you have friends that, you know, would love
to take 10 days to learn.
Please let them know about this amazing opportunity, with Mayanot.


Join Us:
Monday June 17th -- Wednesday,  June 26th. 2019
14th Sivan - 23rd Sivan 5779
Take your learning to the next level with a Yeshiva Experience in Jerusalem

For more information, please email: sbkudan@gmail.com