Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Shavuot to Remember at Mayanot

By: Avraham Goldstein

At Mayanot, we learned that the giving of the Torah is not something that happened only in the past. It’s something that we experience every year on Shavuot. Even more so, Chassidus explains that a Jew in his divine service should view the Torah and mitzvahs as new every day.

After Maariv and a festive meal, we had a very long night ahead of us. Shavuot at Mayanot was draining physically and spiritually (in a good way!). While staying up all night, pounding down XL energy drinks and sugary, salty snacks, reciting the Tikkun (special passages that achieve a spiritual correction when read), we were entertained with classes such as Rabbi Silberg’s “Why do In-laws Always Interfere?”

When the clock struck 4 in the morning, many Jews were going to sleep, but not us! How could we sleep with the Kotel right down the street? As we were marching as an army together down Yaffo Street, it seemed like the thousands of other Jews walking to the Kotel were joining us on a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple. It was truly breath-taking. I carried my own chair, because from experience, I knew that all the chairs would be taken by the time I got there. It wasn’t a folding chair, so it was a little awkward to carry for the thirty minute walk, and I got some funny looks, but it was well worth it in the end.
The Kotel was so packed we could barely move. While we were praying, I could hardly see the Wall, as I was sandwiched between hundreds of people. Although the Wall may not have been visible, and praying may have been difficult with all the commotion, I felt like I could tap into a very powerful energy, the energy that the Jews must have felt when they were receiving the Torah together at Sinai on this very day.
When the clock struck 8 in the morning, we were practically sleep walking, but it wasn’t yet bedtime for me and my fellow students. Instead, it was time to run a Kiddush table with wine and pastries for all the hungry Jews leaving the Kotel. It was amazing for me to see all the different types of Jews that stopped by to make Kiddush and grab a bite to eat.
Finally, we trekked back to Mayanot for cheesecake! There must have been seven or eight varieties of cheesecake. Mayanot students were happy to fulfill the custom of eating dairy on Shavuot. After the dairy meal, most of the students slept all the way until the meat meal. We had a lively farbrengen until Mincha, and before we knew it the festivities were over. In Israel, keeping a single day of Yom Tov makes for one very action-packed day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

**Featured Student**

Name: Elizabeth 'Liz' Halpern
Age: 22
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Education: BA in Philosophy (University of Colorado)
Started at Mayanot: June 2012

How did you hear about Mayanot?
I heard about Mayanot from friends who have studied here. I also heard about it from my rabbi (Chabad on Campus).

What made you decide to come and learn at Mayanot?
I wanted to learn more about Judaism. Also, I was graduating and wanted to take some time to decide what I wanted to do with my life.

What is the best part of Mayanot?
The classes and the sense of community that I get from the girls and the teachers. I love the fact that alumni come back and always seem to have a connection, even after they leave Mayanot.

Do you have any advice for incoming students on living in Jerusalem?
Be determined to speak Hebrew with Israelis, even if they try to speak English to you.  

What are your plans for the future?
I'm going back home in a month from now. I have a job at Keshet, which is an organization that helps special needs kids.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jerusalem Day

What a game! In honor of Jerusalem Day, which starts tonight, the Mayanot Men’s Program headed to Kraft Stadium to enjoy some well deserved down time outside of the Beit Midrash. Students, a.k.a. the “Colored Shirts”, took on the rabbis out in the field in an intense student vs. faculty soccer match. Despite the hot and sunny weather (30 degrees!), everyone managed to stay hydrated and keep their energy up.

Teachers and students alike showed some great enthusiasm and camaraderie on the field. The MVPs on the students’ team were Solomon Braun and Aron Bulko, who showed real athleticism and were great team players as well. Rabbi Kaplan, who showed up in his trusty blue hat, was a great sport, and even surprised us with his skills when he head butted the ball. Rabbi Gestetner strengthened the teachers’ team by playing some quality “footie” as well, mate.

Mrs. Moss (Rabbi Moss’s wife) and her kids joined in on the fun and cheered from the bleachers. Some students’ wives, including Mrs. Aron Bulko and Mrs. Wayne Shmidt, showed up to support their men as well.  

Towards the end of the game, Meir Komar, along with his team, fired up the barbeque and started cooking up hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken on the grill. Of course, Michael was also there, handing out water bottles to the sweaty and exhausted players.

So what was the score? Who won? I say, who cares? Great fun was had by all. Our day at Kraft Stadium was a refreshing way to enjoy good friends, good food and good fun in the Jerusalem sun.