Sunday, May 20, 2018

Shavuot in Jerusalem


            This morning we woke up very early so that we could join with tens of thousands of our Jewish brothers and sisters in celebrating Shavuot at the Kotel. As we made our way into the old city, we encountered an ever increasing stream of people making their from the Kotel after their morning prayers. When we arrived at the Kotel plaza there were still many thousands of people moving in all directions. Some were eating breakfast, some praying, some talking, some wandering. Everywhere you looked there seemed to be another minyan and another Torah scroll being carried somewhere or read from. Participating in this special holiday celebration was a once in a lifetime experience and I know that none of us will ever forget it.
            Our day would’ve been complete with our visit to the Kotel, but there’s always more to see and do in Jerusalem. For that reason we headed to the part of town that houses all the governmental agencies. We caught a quick glimpse of Israel’s Supreme Court and then spent a good amount of time learning about the Knesset and  taking a closer look at the famous Menorah that stands just opposite of it. Adjacent to the Knesset is a beautiful rose garden where we joined with other Israelis who were celebrating Shavuot with picnics and time in nature. As has become our custom, some played cards, some climbed trees, some played soccer or Frisbee, some admired a turtle that randomly appeared in the garden, and others practiced their cheerleading. At the end, we sat down for a conversation with our two security guards, Sahar and Yarden. They spoke beautifully about their army experience and answered questions from the kids.
            After a few hours of rest, we set out once again. This time we visited Yemin Moshe and the famous windmill that our kids study about in Hebrew class. From there we wandered slowly back to the park near our hotel where we hung out some more, had a pizza picnic, and a lovely Havdallah ceremony. The kids sang enthusiastically, a few shared thoughts about what this trip has meant to them, and everyone returned to the hotel in good spirits. Most went upstairs to pack while a few had special visits from family and friends. Tomorrow we explore a bit more of Jerusalem and eventually set our sights on

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