Mayanot Winter Shabbaton to Tzfat

One week into the Mayanot Winter Program, we had our first Shabbaton of 5773 to Tzfat. Although our large bus had some difficulty navigating the narrow streets and alleys of Tzfat, we arrived safely at the Hotel Ron, where we threw our bags down and headed into the Artist’s Colony for a glassblowing exhibit.

During our tour, we learned that as one of the four holy cities in Israel, Tzfat is the city of air, which was undeniable as we walked around the holy city prior to Shabbat. Even a quintessential city girl like myself was able to appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of the secluded city and the spirit of its residents. Upon lighting candles together in the hotel lobby, we departed for the shul of our choice, for a spiritual Carlebach prayer experience.

Having been a proud Mayanot student for the past three months, I can say with certainty that during our Friday night meal we sang the most nigunim we have ever sang in one night. During Shabbat dinner, we heard a dvar torah from Marina Gromberg and more words of Torah from our host family, the Zadoks. We all found Mr. Zadok’s Yemenite pronunciation of kiddush to be very interesting and he taught us that we’re supposed to say “Chayim Tovim” when someone sneezes!

In my opinion, the highlight of Shabbat was our fabrengen with his wife Sarah Zadok, a former Mayanot teacher. The fabrengen, which lasted until about 3 AM, was rich with never-ending nosh and even some tears. I felt as if Mrs. Zadok’s passion and honesty, which couldn't have been more genuine, provided us with the bits of clarity we always pray for. As she told us her story, being a Grateful Dead fan and Machon Alte alum, we found that we could identify with her.

The story of Mrs. Zadok meeting her husband was what I found most interesting. She gave us profound advice on dating and encouraged us to find “the one that fits our mold.” She also told us that being the best Jew she could be transcended the need to have a specific hashkafa, explaining that “Judaism isn’t part of your life, life is part of your Judaism.”

On Shabbat morning, many women davened at the Tzfat Citadel, which had the most breathtaking views of the entire city of Tzfat and of the Kinneret. Lunch had even more nigunim and dancing, which led us right into a Shabbat nap and an optional tour of the Old City. After Havdalah, we took part in a delicious melava malka and a unique dance-movement exercise with a Mayanot alumna. The night ended with game night, snacks and hours of singing.

A fellow Mayanoter and I woke up for sunrise at the Citadel and davened overlooking the city as the sun rose. The intense beauty of the view made us feel the greatness of Hashem. Rows and rows of mountains were illuminated by a bright pink sun, with a fog rising above Tzfat’s greenery as we davened. We were tempted to camp out there indefinitely, but we had a mountain to hike!

When we finally returned to Jerusalem, we unanimously agreed that this Shabbaton was the best way to connect with old friends on new levels and to bond with the Winter Program girls. As much as I wish we could have bottled the Tzfat air, rich with mysticism, I am even more appreciative for the air of Jerusalem and our home at Mayanot. There is no better place in the world to learn how to make “life part of our Judaism” and to become the best Jewish women we can be than at Mayanot.

Written By: Dana Driscoll