Sunday, December 6, 2015

STAYING CONNECTED: LA ALUMNI REUNION



At a recent Mayanot Alumni BBQ in Los Angeles, there was an incredible turn out, over 175 guests came to reconnect with friends from their time as students at the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies, in Jerusalem.

Several students who had gone to Mayanot when it first began, over 15 years ago, came. “It was a pleasure seeing everyone I knew, and meeting new people that had connected to Mayanot in the same way I had”, said Jacob Huberman, Mayanot Alumni from 2005.

Mayanot Alumni in the Los Angeles region have been very active Jewishly. Rabbi Moishe Silver, Alumni relations in the US remarked, “We think it’s important to keep our alumni engaged and be there for them, even after they have left Mayanot”.

Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, Executive Director and Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, Dean of the Mayanot Institute were both in attendance for this momentous event, the first of its kind in this area of the country. Rabbi Shemtov remarked, “The idea is that when you come back from Mayanot you open up your home and allow everyone to come in, creating the most amazing environment that invites everyone around you to change, including yourself, your family and the community.” This is the goal, as Sandra Bram expressed, “Mayanot was right up my alley because it was all about internal growth, at your own pace”.

“You can’t explain in words how incredible the experience at Mayanot is, one has to experience for themselves the specialness of Friday night at the Mayanot shul, or a Mayanot fabrengen, or Shabbat with the rabbi’s”, beamed Motti Slodowitz, Mayanot community member.

Attendees were amazed by the overall feeling of friendship, the abundance of food and the inspiring sensation of wanting to change the world, one BBQ at a time. Mayanot thanks Josef and Jaime Esshaghian who hosted this event and made it the incredible success that it was.

In an effort to continue these types of events for our alumni and friends in America and in Israel, we appreciate everyone that has offered to host in their home region around the globe. We hope to have many more events like this in the future.


















Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Water is Life



Written By: Chelsea Mika Shar (Chana Michaela Efrat),
Mayanot Alumnus from Johannesburg, South Africa

Water is life. Water is our life’s source. So too is Torah. No matter how dangerous water-life might be for a fish, being outside the water is 100% deadly. No matter how dangerous life may be vis-à-vis Torah, not following Torah guarantees our death. This lesson we learn from Rabbi Akiva. This was one of my greatest clarities and inspirations at Mayanot.

In the confused world of galus (exile) where ruchnias (spirituality) is more hidden and gashmias (physicality) is manifest, life for a fish seems pretty boring in the water. Life on land seems much more appealing! Even a fish on land looks like it is dancing, flapping about. However, in actual fact, the fish is dying.

We are constantly looking at others and comparing. We constantly feel inadequate and boring. However, if we are connected to our source; if we are truly connected, we develop a healthy sense of self. Mayanot provides this opportunity. It provides a space to grow and to learn; a space to challenge oneself and to challenge others. These effects are not always felt immediately, but they are felt nonetheless.

It is very difficult to describe the experience that is Mayanot, however it is safe to say that the experience is life-changing. Although it may be different for every girl, each one departs that much wiser, more connected and challenged. Personally, it sparked such a love for chassidus that is truly indescribable. Not only did I gain knowledge but I gained insight – insight into the workings of the world, into people and relationships, and into Hashem and creation. It has built for me a foundation of life, which I hold very dear to my heart and sense of being.

Undoubtedly Maynot lives up to its name. For all of this and more I am grateful; grateful to Hashem and to Mayanot. Gratitude and thanks does not do it justice, but for now, it is all I have.