It really is amazing how you make friends wherever you go—I was in a store in the mystical city of Safed and met a woman with whom I immediately had a connection. Rivka invited me for tea, after I had bought presents for all the kids, one or two for myself (obviously not on Gonzaga's budget) and then we sat for a while and drank tea with nana (mint). We exchanged life stories and likely will become Facebook friends.
I also found myself in of all places, Livnot u'lihibanot (an orthodox outreach group whose ways and beliefs I have struggled with in the past)—they were going to be hosting a birthright group. While I feel like I am planning a different kind of Israel experience I was curious about the success of this experience among college age students. I talked to a couple of the young interns and waited for the group to come to see how they would be approached and to assess the messages, but they came late and I had a lot to do.
I wandered into the Kosov synagogue (dedicated to Jewish community of Kosov) which was basically empty but I was led to the women's section where I sat and deciphered a long explanatory brochure about why Mt Meron is important for every Jew and about the spiritual power of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Except for maybe two words, I got the whole thing. By the time I was done reading I wondered if I should hop a bus to Meron. But I moved on.
I visited the synagogue where we once prayed for our children. I gave thanks in that same space 11 years later for the gifts of my children who I miss very much.
And then I was about to turn back to the bus station when saw a sign for an artist named Kathleen Wasserman and the gate was open so I went in and made another new friend. I also made glass art and we organized a glass art making mini-class for the students. She is a Reform Jew with a PhD in education and we had more in common than she has with about anyone in Safed. So we talked for a while and I created art which was very fun. Safed is an artist colony and a haven for the Mystics, the Hasids and Chabad, and also a lot of secular Israelis. And they all get along. It's kind of an amazing place. I chanted the Nava Tehila niggun on a rooftop. My time in Israel is coming to a close.
Tomorrow I am going to tour Christian sites with Abraham Hostel to see how they run a day trip and Wednesday I will stay in Tiberias and assess it educationally. I might even bike a little.
Glass Making in Tsfat
Safed or Tzfat, as it is known in Hebrew
Dr. Goldstein Leads Gonzaga-In-Israel Study Program
2017 will see the start of a 4 week Israel Study Abroad Program, for more information contact Dr. Elizabeth Goldstein in the Religious Studies Department