Shabbat has arrived here in Israel. The kibbutz is quiet. The kids are in their rooms. Winding down. There’s not much to do on Erev Shabbat on a kibbutz. That’s why we’re here. And the kids seem to like it.
We ended our first full day in Israel with a spirited and participatory Shabbat service followed by another delicious meal and an hour or so of hanging out in the courtyard between all our rooms. The kids transitioned beautifully from service to supper to socializing and they’ve been transitioning from activity to activity all day. It’s a sign that they’re engaged, paying attention, and wanting to take it all in.
More than a few of us woke up during the pre-dawn hours this morning. Hopefully that’s the last of the jet lag leaving our systems. On the other end of the spectrum, a few of the boys rooms slept through both the wake up call and the initial round of banging on doors. In spite of their impromptu hibernation we made it to the Nili School on time. Which is good. Because they were literally standing at the gate. Waiting for us. Cheering as we arrived.
For the next few hours the love fest between Davis and Nili resumed. Kids scurried around campus in their efforts to complete a scavenger hunt and then we all went to the pedestrian promenade in the heart of town to hang out some more. Parting was sweet sorrow, but no one seemed inconsolable. After lunch (first falafel, first shwarma, first pizza), we headed to Caesarea.
About halfway through our time in Caesarea I had a chance to huddle with Yishay and Eran, our awesome tour guides/tour educators. They pulled me aside. I was sure something was wrong. “These kids are absolutely incredible. You have no idea how lucky we feel and how in depth we’ll be able to go because of how knowledgeable and curious they are. When we talk, they actually listen.” It was music to my ears. It's always a good feeling when others see what you see.
While wrapping up in Caesarea we got to yell “mazal tov” to a bride and groom just as they began walking down the aisle (to a song from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon). While standing by the famous and iconic Roman aqueduct we sang the song “Eili Eili” and put our toes in the Mediterranean. The joy and bliss you see in the pictures only scratches the surface of what it felt like for all of us to be there together. For some it was, without a doubt, a spiritual experience.
Today Israel rewarded us with perfect weather. We greeted the day with open minds and high hopes. Today flew by. And the days will only start to pass more and more quickly as our journey continues. During our Shabbat service we spent some time cultivating our present moment awareness. The theory being that if we can be fully present for even a few breaths, then we can discover the vastness that is always available to us but seldom accessed. One of the challenges we will face during the busy days ahead is that of making sure that we make sure that the kids have time to soak it all in and reflect rather than simply bounce from activity to activity, site to site. We’ll continue to help the kids strike that balance by reminding them to be present, to pay close attention, to use all their senses, and to see in each experience, an opportunity to honor their purpose and reason for being here. It will surely be delightful.