Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gratitude = Hakarat HaTov

Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, a Mayanot Men's program alum and current Chabad House shliach of the Pratt Community Synagogue in Brooklyn, has shared this beautiful idea about Gratitude that we can all benefit from. May we continue to gain strength and wisdom from our students and from our students students! 

The Hebrew word for gratitude is hakarat hatov which means recognizing the goodness in your life. Search for the gifts and you will find them everywhere.

1. Focus on the moments. Too often we focus on the past or worry about the future and don’t notice the moment we are being given right now. Life is really only happening in the present; don’t miss out on seeing the precious beauty and miracles that are right in front of you. 

2. Think of the people you are grateful for. We are so busy with our work and to-do lists that we frequently overlook the gift of the people who we love. It is all too easy to feel distant from the strength and depth of the love of our families because we are so used to their presence in our lives. Every day take a moment to think of the gift of the people in your life – your spouse, friends, parents, children, siblings, colleagues. Cherish that connection and think about how it nurtures and supports you.

3. Remember a time you experienced Divine providence in your life. We can all think of times of Divine providence when we felt God winking at us. Maybe you unexpectedly met someone who is now an important part of your life. Maybe it was a moment that led to a new job or a hobby that you love.

4. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down the simple, little things that you can be grateful for each day. A hot cup of coffee. A beautiful sunrise. A child’s smile. Jot down at least three things each day that you appreciate.

5. Write gratitude letters. Compose a letter or email at least one a month to someone who has helped you or inspired you. Thank them for the blessing that they brought into your life. It is even better if you send the letter but even just writing it can concretize the sense of gratitude that you have for that person’s contribution to your life.

6. Appreciate your health. Take a moment each day to thank God for the gift of your body and each of your senses. Your sight, your hearing, your ability to speak and walk and smell are all priceless gifts. Don’t take them for granted. Cherish them.

--Rabbi Simcha & Ariella Weinstein 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Experiencing Israel with Mayanot Legacy

Last month, the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies hosted a group of 32 people from the United States. The trip, called Mayanot Legacy, was attended mostly by parents of our Birthright Israel alumni, and aimed to give the participants a similar journey as their children had. 

For many, this was their first time in Israel. For others, while they've been here once or more, admitted that the group experience, the knowledgable guides, and the carefully planned itinerary made the trip like no other. 

For nearly everyone, it was their first time experiencing Friday night at the Kotel, a moment many will cherish for years to come. One particular highlight for everyone was the Shabbos dinners at the homes of local hosts. They were welcomed in by people they had never met as if they were long lost family coming back for a visit. The friendship and love made a real impression on the group. 

Levi Margolin, the group's scholar in residence said that this experience was very similar to a Birthright Israel trip. "The group atmosphere, the peer experience, were all very similar but, here, you're dealing with people with real life experience under their belts. That's a totally different ballgame."

The eight day journey began up North, visiting the Galil and Golan, including a visit to Tzfat and then traveled south to Jerusalem, the desert and finally, Tel Aviv where the journey came to a close. 

For more information regarding our upcoming Mayanot Legacy trips, please email [email protected] or check out the website