Monday, December 29, 2014

My Lighthouse

By: Hallie Lapides, Mayanot Alumni

The definition of a light house is this:
A tower or other structure displaying or flashing a very bright light for the guidance of ships, in avoiding dangerous areas, in following certain routes, etc. 

At its essence Mayanot is truly a light house. This concept fully embodies what Mayanot is.  In life our choices are not always easy. We are faced with challenges along our way just like a ship at sea. Mayanot does not tell you exactly where to go, or even what path to follow - what it does do is shine light on the path you are already on.

I looked through all of the notes I have taken during classes since I first began two weeks ago. I was looking for common words and themes. I ended up with a jumbled pile of beautiful words, and from that I composed an innocent poem. 

This journey is my own
Here I know I never walk it alone
There is a spark inside
A connection to the Divine
A oneness between my soul, heart and mind
This responsibility is great
So I do and do more
And try not to hate
Understanding of each-other
We can cultivate
The truth is in me
It is who I already am
So I learn and 
I grow everyday
Not letting the experience
Just fade away
My inspiration has depth
So I pray to Hashem
It stays strong
It feels like the light
Has just been turned on!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mayanot Shul Spreads light this Chanukah

One of the greatest miracles that occurred during Chanukah and the Macabean revolt was that there were Jews willing to stand up and fight against the over arching power of the Greeks. Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death.

It is an amazing miracle in our day that Jews can come together and celebrate Chanukah out in the open, spreading light and sharing Torah for all to see.

The Mayanot shul utilized the energy of the holiday to publicize this amazing miracle by organizing a community event that over 250+ members, alumni and new friends came to participate in. This event turned out to be one of the most joyous gatherings of people, art and music for the Chag.

Nathaneal Harkham and his wife Jacqueline Harkham, donated over 15 pieces of art for the event. Some of the paintings included Jonah’s Journey, The Praying Tree, Light and Moshiach and the funds of each painting sold was donated to Mayanot.

David Brooks, a Mayanot Alum and talented artist from Sydney Australia, donated 3 of the paintings he created specifically for the Chanukah party. All of the art displayed throughout the shul had biblical and kabalistic themes and everyone who came out recognized the beauty and appreciated the creative atmosphere shared by these amazing artists.

There were two live painting stations, and the event ran late into the evening with the crowd eagerly looking on as the paintings were created from start to finish.

A new member to the Mayanot community, Dahlia Oziel remarked, “there were so many new people to meet it was so nice seeing other young people in the community, and the live music and painting display was spectacular.”

Community members and new friends mingled and enjoyed the amazing music by the Nachman Jam Band, which proved a huge success and added so much to the simcha.

Rabbi Gestetner, Dean of the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies thanked everyone for coming out and sharing in the light of Chanukah. Lighting the menorah together with so many people partaking in the mitzvah, really made the whole gathering come together.

Projects coordinator for Mayanot, Susie Muller, was very happy with the event, “both artists  demonstrated their extreme talent and with everyone who came out, we were able to spread light to people who might not yet have felt comfortable coming to shul”.

Mayanot would like to thank Yossi Fraenkel, David Brooks and both Nethaneal & Jacqueline Harkhams for collaborating on this amazing event. May we only continue to spread the light and warmth of Chanukah into the rest of the year. Chag Sameach!

Check out the link to the video, Here! 


Monday, December 22, 2014

My Relationship with Hashem!

My experience of Judaism until I came to Mayanot was that it was a religion filled with obligations and conforming to a higher power, which Rabbi Levinger, Rosh Yeshivah of the Women's Mayanot Institute, always says, "Judaism is not a religion. It is a relationship." 

I finally realized that for myself. I knew there was something wrong with the image I had been fed at other institutions, where I felt judged and like I needed to hide myself to conform to what the community wanted and why I wasn't fully happy, even though I had started taking on more mitzvos. That is not Judasim. 

My journey since coming to Israel has been to reveal who I am and the type of relationship I want with Hashem, with other people, and with myself. The conclusion I have come to is that I want real relationships. 

One Shabbos, we all created our own 'in-Shabbos' at Mayanot (it's when all of the Women stay at Mayanot for both meals). We went around the table saying one defining moment we've all had. It was so inspiring to hear everyone's struggles and accomplishments and what has meant most to us throughout our lives. We really have become like a family

Then we sang nigguns, and one of us accidentally turned off the light switch with her back. Our reaction was just to sing louder and stand up and put our arms around each other. It was so beautiful with the snow glistening in the windows, no one said a word about the accident. 

It was amazing because I felt that if it had happened somewhere else, there would have been disapproval and judgement. That was definitely a defining moment for me.  

Later that night, I sat with the girls and told them how I appreciated how no one said anything to me about the fact that I had started wearing jeans. They said they hadn't even noticed. Because that's not what matters. You look at someone for their soul not for their externals. 

I felt that if I had been somewhere else, people would totally say something to me and think I went off the path, when really I am finally just beginning it. 

This is what Mayanot has given me, love acceptance, and the freedom to discover Judaism and my relationship with G-d for myself. 

By: Penina Romanek (A Mayanot Alumnus from Chicago, Illinois)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mayanot remarkably comes together to write its third Sefer Torah

A unique and joyous celebration took place at the Mayanot shul in Jerusalem when the Mayanot community united for a recent Hachnasat Sefer Torah. Members took part in a historic moment by participating in the welcoming of a new Sefer Torah to the shul. 

The occasion began with a special ceremony, when the last few letters were inscribed into the beautiful Torah.  Thirty community members were each able to take part in the mitzvah of writing one of the letters. After the ink dried, there was a beautiful procession from the Fraenkel family home to the Mayanot shul in Nachlaot, where hundreds of families and friends joined together for the celebration. Music and dancing accompanied the expression of joy by the crowd, as the Sefer Torah was finally placed in its new home.

The Sefer Torah was dedicated as a symbol and sign of achdut by the community of the Mayanot shul. Each individual involved whether by letter, word, verse, chapter or book, all united as one in the combined effort to conclude the Sefer Torah. Heartfelt thanks from Mayanot go out to the Fischbaum Family of London, dedicated to Asher Zelig and Esther Fischbaum, without whose initiative and help this project never would have come to fruition.

Commensurate with the mitzvah that every Jew at should participate in the mitzvah of writting a Sefer Torah, this opportunity for the entire community to fulfill that 613th mitzvah, demonstrated the unique zechus that Mayanot offered its members. Rabbi Wichnin, Rosh Yeshiva of the Men’s Mayanot Program, discussed the importance of the mitzvah of buying a letter in the Sefer Torah, and how each Torah scroll is incomplete if it is missing even one letter. Rabbi Wichnin remarked, “No letter is more important than another. It is the culmination of each and every letter, indicative of the entire Jewish people, that makes the Sefer Torah whole and holy”.
Rabbi Gestetner, Dean of the Mayanot Institute discussed the importance of the verse “Ve’asisa Es Ha Menora”, where the Menorah is mentioned in singular terms but he clarified that when it comes to making the Aron (the Ark for the tablets, the symbol of the Torah), it is written in plural. “We learn from this, that in order to create a Torah community, we need the involvement of every individual.”
The special evening concluded at the shul with a distinctive seudat mitzvah.  Surrounded by many honored guests and members, Rabbi Shemtov, Executive Director of Mayanot, conveyed heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the communities support and overall enthusiasm which is a true Kiddush Hashem.

Although there were many people who supported the effort, Mayanot would like to thank the following for their involvement: Tajtelbaum Family, Ami & Aliza Weisz, David & Shifrah Hendrie, Moshe David Gold, and Moshe Chess.

Also, to Yossi Fraenkel for giving of his generous time, effort and hard work, to the entire Fraenkel Family for their dedicated support and marvelous hospitality, and to the entire Mayanot community for helping make this momentous addition to the shul possible! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mayanot Spotlight

Spotlight is a new blog segment we are doing where we catch up with our alumni, find out about their Mayanot experience in retrospect and see what current project they are working on.

Here we joined up with Daniel Kronovet to see what he was up to after finishing Mayanot 2 years ago.
This is what he had to say, “I attended Mayanot for December and January, in the winter of 2012-2013.
I loved everything. The classes were fascinating, the students were very friendly. It was a very exciting place to be. I really enjoyed our trip to Tsfat. Walking through the city with the other students was a very special experience”.

Currently Daniel is collaborating on a moving and revolutionary project to bring adequate heating to welfare neighborhoods in New York City. At 27 degrees below freezing in New York last year, imagine if you didn’t have heat. It’s a troubling thought, and it’s how the opening promotional video of Heat Seek begins, a sensor that automatically takes the temperature and sends the data back to a server. It is reforming the way heating regulations are enforced so that people don’t freeze. Information is more accurate, and the process is less bureaucratic.
Daniel was studying computer programming in New York City this past winter, and two of his classmates decided to start Heat Seek as a project for the class. A few months later, in May, they decided to take the project further and started asking for people to help improve Heat Seek and enter into a city wide contest. Daniel volunteered to help build their hardware and software, and has been involved ever since.

He mentioned that, “this project helps those who are vulnerable and unable to defend themselves. It helps them by giving them the tools and the voice to advocate for themselves, to ensure adequate heating and a safe home. As the welfare of these people increases so does the welfare of us all”.
When asked about how Mayanot impacted his decision to get involved in this project he remarked, “I would say that Mayanot helped show me the value of specialized, rigorous study, and helped guide me along the path to engineering and working with technology, which brought me to this”. Daniel also commented on how Mayanot impacted his values to give generously and the importance of tzedaka.

Well, we’re proud of you Daniel and we hope this project continues to impact the world positively. Want to learn more about Heat Seek, please visit

If you are an alumni of Mayanot and would like to tell us your story please email us at: [email protected] for more information. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mayanot Channuka Art Shindig Jam Party

This will be the Channukah event of the Year

at 8:00pm

Where: Mayanot Shul, 28 Narkis Street. Nachlaot, Jerusalem

Mayanot Shul presents an evening for adults to celebrate Channuka together!
Come view & purchase some holy Jewish art while listening to soulful music and enjoying 
great people, good wine & tasty snacks.

Join us for the 2nd night of Channukah, December 17th, 8pm-10:30pm


A live painting display with art from David Brook & Nathaneal Harkham
(Proceeds from art sales to be donated to Mayanot)

Amazing music from Nachman Jam Band 

Wine, Beverages & Snacks

Channuka candle lighting 

And Admission is Free!

For more info please contact:
Susie at: [email protected] or 02 538 8770 x.501

Come Celebrate the Light B'H!