CSU Taglit Birthright: Day Two

As day two began, we began our day with a great Israeli breakfast at the hotel to give us the energy we would need for the day ahead!

Our first stop was to go to the city of Tzfat, which is known as a religious City of Kabbalah or Jewish Mysticism.

On our way to Tzfat, our tour guide Itamar discussed the significance of the name of Tzfat. The word “Tzfat” is the Hebrew root of two verbs, which explain the origins of the city’s name. The word “Ltza-pot”, meaning to expect, may refer to the Kabbalistic belief that the messiah, whom Jews await, will, when he appears, pass through Tzfat on his way to Jerusalem. Another possible verb, “Ltz-pot”, meaning to view, developed as the name of the city because of Tzfat’s location on a mountaintop overlooking the entire expanse of Northern Israel.

As we arrived in Tzfat, many were amazed by the beautiful architecture of the city. Itamar later pointed out that there is a lot of blue buildings and blue stone in the city, which represent the good in the world or can even represent God in a way.

We were later taken to the Ashkenazi HaAri Synagogue. Itamar told us that during the 1948 War of Independence, the synagogue was packed with worshipers seeking shelter from the battles around the city. As they were bent over in prayer, Shrapnel from a rocket tore through the synagogue going over the heads of the bent worshipers and imbedding itself in the Bema. To this day, you can still see the hole where the shrapnel hit the Bema and to many it is considered one of the many miracles to have occurred in Tzfat.

We were later fortunate enough to have a delicious Yemenite dish for lunch called Malawach in Tzfat, along with able to tour and see the art gallery that Tzfat has to offer. There were numerous artists with many beautiful works of art, which included hand made paintings, jewelry, hamsa’s, and many many other examples of Jewish Kabbalistic art.

We then headed back on the bus and on our way to the Jordan River to go Rafting. Upon arrival we were split into groups of 4 to 6 people per raft and the race begun! It was a very fun time, with mostly calm waters. We splashed each other as we saw other members of our birthright group, and at one point our tour guide Itamar even pushed someone into the water! Of course it was all fun and games. On our ride through the Jordan River, we saw many Israeli’s listening to music, smoking hookah, and having a barbecue on the banks of many parts of the Jordan River. Overall, it seems like a very chill, relaxing, yet very fun raft ride!

After our hour or so long raft ride on the Jordan River, we headed back on the bus to go back to the hotel in Haifa. We then prepared for that nights Shabbat. We did blessings over the light, washing of the hands, the bread, and wine. We also gave reasons why we bless each of those and the significance of the blessings itself. We then enjoyed a great Shabbat meal at the hotel!

We later gathered at the hotel lobby after dinner and began ice breakers for all the participants! We set it up kind of like speed dating, where everyone was in two rows sitting face to face. We would then ask a fun and exciting question for them to get to know each other better and after one minute one of the rows would all move over one seat to the right. Some of the questions that were asked were ones such as “If you could be invisible, where would you go?”, “Most embarrassing haircut”, and “If you could have any five qualities what would they be?”

After icebreakers concluded, we then allowed to go to bed to prepare for the next days activities.