On Friday night, we welcomed in Shabbat with the Beit Tfilah Yisraeli congregation in a beautiful service on the boardwalk looking over the sea. The leaders had amazing singing voices and tons of ruakh (energy)! Watching the sunset throughout the service was an amazing sight. It was easily one of the best Shabbats we had ever been to.
On Saturday, we gathered for services at the hotel, and then hit the beach for a relaxing day of rest. That night, we went to the boardwalk for havdalah. The waves may have splashed everyone a bit, but the familiar prayers and songs made us all feel warm!
On Sunday morning we met with Bina to tour South Tel Aviv. We had stimulating conversations about poverty, socioeconomic inequality, and the history of South Tel Aviv. Then we went to Florentin for a graffiti tour. We learned about different artists and their motivations for making art. We saw a mural of the famous Jewish baseball player, Sandy Koufax. The colorful tour showed us a different part of Tel Aviv and it’s culture. After the tour, we met with IGY, the Israeli Gay Youth Organization. The leader of the discussion talked about the LGBTQIA+ community in Israel. We discussed the difficulty of being gay and what that entails in a religious state. This included the monopoly that the Rabbanut (Orthodox rabbinate) has on marriage, adoption, and non-traditional family life. But our leader also told us about the uplifting Pride Parade that took place in Tel Aviv. This secular city is an amazing place where people are allowed to express themselves to the fullest. We traveled to Rabin Square, where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was fatally shot by an extremist with opposing views. We discussed the historical significance of the assassination and what might have happened in Israel had he not been shot. Then we met with family and friends, and those of us who did not walked around Rothschild Boulevard and explored. Later that night, we went to the roof for a pool party and celebrated Sammy’s 16th birthday! We’re looking forward to another exciting day in Tel Aviv.