Over Winter Break, I was fortunate to attend the Mayanot Women’s
Program in Jerusalem for the three week winter program where college students all around came to join the young adults that had already been at Mayanot. I arrived at what I thought was a small building, but walked inside and noticed that not only was it a small building, but it was a place where everyone was smiling and every student there was learning. Despite the size of the building, it was filled with big smiles, big hearts, and one big family.
As soon as the program started picking up pace, I was exposed to some great learning opportunities I would never have come across in my life. I picked up the Mishnah and the Gemara and started to break them down and figure out what the ancient texts have to say. I learned about the weekly parshah (Torah Portions) and was able to relate it to my life.
Mayanot’s education is based on a Chassidic approach, which is the teachings of Judaism by the Chabad Rebbe’s. It is also based on subjects that are pertinent to ones lives. When it came time to pick up Tanya, the psychological bases of Chassidus, I had found my passion in Judaism and I began to learn it on a daily basis.
Mayanot is such a supportive environment and it doesn’t matter where you come from. Some girls had very little Jewish foundation, while others like me had a strong foundation and were starting to find where in Judaism they wanted to go. Anyone from any Jewish background is able to study at Mayanot. It’s not all study, but also about building life long friendships and making memories. I was exposed to so much of Israel, not only the religious parts, but also the secular parts. I was able to be Jewish and not be afraid of being observant openly in Israel.
My favorite experience from the trip was when we went to Tzfat in the North of Israel for the second Shabbat. Our Shabbat hosts were families who were affiliated with Mayanot and had chosen to spend their Shabbat with all the women on the program!
We were fabrengening (a late night discussion period of in depth conversations and singing) with them till around 2am on Friday night. Everyone was intrigued and connected to what we were hearing. At one point everyone got out of their seats and started singing and dancing and it was as if the whole room had been transformed, and it was very visible that everyone’s neshamah (soul) was happy. I was sad to leave Tzfat, as I knew I only had a few days left at Mayanot.
During my last few days, I learned all I could learn and was able to discuss with my peers. As I reflect on this incredible experience, /I think about all the good times I had and all that I have learned. I have grown so much and have acquired so much more knowledge that I hope to share with my fellow peers. If it wasn’t for Chabad at UCF and the strong support of Rabbi and Rivkie Lipskier, I would not have had this incredible opportunity.
I cannot wait to go back to Mayanot some day soon and continue my learning.
Written By: Michelle Feldman, Mayanot Women's Winter Program Alum, 2013.
Via: Chabad at UCF