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Finally uploaded pics of Mayanot-birthright Trip!

Click here for the full gallery of half the trip (only 450 pics). Our camera broke half way through Jerusalem. Sorry, no bedouins pics!

The Israel Recap & Report

Dear Friends,
 
The Chabad recap
 
New course on Devarim begins this Thursday... Becoming Grounded: Devarim - Course Syllabus. Lunch at 12-1:15pm, Evenings 8-9pm.
Shabbat Chazon this week at Uptown:
Friday, August 8: 7:30 pm services (candle lighting at 7:51pm) followed by dinner... You ARE welcome - RSVP now!
Saturday, August 9, 10:00 am, services followed by kiddush with colent!!!!
                                7:50 pm, Mincha, followed by class about Tisha Bav.
                                8:46 pm, Maariv, Havdalla & Eicha Tisha Bav Service (Fast begins 8:08pm)
Sunday, Fast Ends at 8:32pm. (Catch morning Tisha Bav services at Chabad Lubavitch Center on Fondren at 8 am)
 
Rabbi Chaim, Chanie & Clan [partial] Summer Recap
 
We know, there has been deafening silence of the emails.... Well it has been quite a summer! Dedication of the newly completed Chabad Lubavitch Center was a success. Chanie and I just got back from Israel where we lead a Mayanot-Birthright trip for young Jews ages 18-26 for ten days (and nights). In other words, no sleep, running on adrenaline, and absorbing ten years of information, experiences and names of 50 new friends in only 240 hours! Chaim's parents and brother's family took the kids for the two weeks. The kiddos just finished camp. School begins in two weeks, phew...
 
The Israel trip was not such a busy itin (yeah, right - and this list is missing MANY things):
 
Day 1: Caesarea, Rothschild Gardens, Hike to natural spring (rigged a torn flip flop on the way using a pocket knife and a kerchief), and head up north to a quaint beautiful "Moshav" called Chispin in the Golan... That is not without stopping by a "yellow" (Stop n Go in US) to stock up on ice cream, edibles and of course drinks. Party - All night 1.
 
Day 2: Each day we learned a Daily Mitzvah as part of Ten Absurdly Simple Ways to Live Higher: Teffilin & Prayer (protects the Holy Land). Hiked in the gilabun, learned of the Israeli takeover of the golan from Syria in 1967 thanks to an amazing story of a spy telling Syria to plant eucalyptus trees in every base, climbed through the canyon, river, stopped for some meditation, saw a beautiful water fall and canyon and ended with some ice cream. Went to Mt. Bental observatory to see with our own eyes the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon and why it is so important to keep the heights for a secure Israel. From there, we went the Yarden wineries, makers of Yarden, Golan, Gamla, and a few other wines. Learned of the vineyards, wine making and aging process of [kosher] wine and had a tasting session along with learning how to use the five senses to be an expert wine critic... Back to Chispin for the night, but not without first stopping for some shopping for ice cream, edibles and of course drinks [for Rabbi Chaim's birthday farbrengen]. Party - All night 2.
 
Day 3: Daily Mitzvah: Torah Study (Theme of Tsfats greats). An inspiring visit to the mystical city of Tsfat, rocking on the bus with discotheque Rabbi Nachman music, visit a shul flown over from spain and the Arizal's Shul, a dip in the freezing Arizal Mikvah, learning of the Tsfat takeover in 1948, a visit to an inspiring kabbala artist, chilling with some ice coffee in the city center and walking our feet off all over the cobblestone streets, but, not before stopping for some amazing schwarma before we leave.... Off to the Jordan river for some kayaking and one sorry rapid (the water is receding due to the draught, there is talk of closing the river altogether). Visited an ancient city and excavated town and synagogue. Headed out to Tiberias (Tveriya) for a beautiful dinner overlooking the Galilee, Shopped and walked the boardwalk while many hit the club on the water. Back to chispin. Party - All night 3.
 
Day 4: Daily Mitzvah: Mezuzah (Keeps us all safe even on travels). Hiked through the treacherous Chatzbani River, and body floated down some of the rapids. Visited an army outpost literally on the border with Lebanon, went mini jeeping on the mountains of the Golan and saw the amazing farming of Israel "where the green ends, begins Syria and Lebanon" the jeep leader tells us with pride. Head out to Tel Aviv, stay in Bat Yam on the Mediterranean. Chanie and I got away to visit her grandmother Galperin living in Nachalat Har Chabad in Kiryat Malachi a 45 minute cab away. Spent the evening with her uncle, cousin and visited her grandmother (Chanie saw for the first time in 15-20 years), with 1:30am and 500 shekel later finds us back in our hotel in Bat Yam. This is while everyone else hits the city life for a Party - All night 4
 
Day 5: Daily Mitzvah: Shabbat Candles (Bringing in Shabbbat in Israel). Meet in Tel Aviv center to pick up our 8 chayalim (Israeli soldiers) in civilian clothes (besides for our 1-2 armed guards) to meet, mingle and hang out with some same aged Israelis for the next few days. Visited Independence Hall where Ben Gurion declared the independence of Israel in 1948, went to Rabin Square with a memorial has been erected on the very spot he was murdered, and shopped the stores on the main drag. From there out to the choice of the Tel Aviv Market (madhouse) or the beach. From there a ride down to Jerusalem. Check in in the closest accommodations to the wall in the old city. Meet up with my brother Shmuly who is getting semicha . Literally less than a five minute walk to the wall. As Shabbat nears we gather for a beautiful Shabbat candle lighting lead by Chanie and learn about the Jewish women and Shabbat. Head down to the wall for one of the most fun, spirited Shabbat davening we ever had. Chaim randomly keeps on bumping into some 20 different friends from all times of the past Yeshivah days... Back for a beautiful Shabbat dinner. No party, everyone is WAY too tired....
 
Day 6: Chaim heads out early to daven at the wall, joins a ad hoc Chabad minyan happening to begin for some reason at 8am... We meet up at 1045 to learn of and split up to various private homes for Shabbat lunch throughout Jerusalem... Chaim finds a farbrengen for Shabbos mevarchim that just happens to be lead by his Uncle Rabbi Avraham Shemtov... We then lead a "stump the rabbi" session that had to be forced ended by the logistics leader. The best question is why religious couples do not seem to touch. To which Chaim points out the pictures of our four children.... :) and an explanation of modesty and sanctity of touch in Jewish thought. Other topics include, tattoos, marrying Jewish, moshiach, Chassidism, women in Judaism and the shul, and many other questions people are for some reason always afraid to ask... The Shabbat third meal, Jewish priorities workshop game, havdalla and out to.... Ben Yehudah street!! Visit the main drag, most go to a Hookah Bar. We go to dinner at Cafe Rimon with Chaim's brother Shmuly and meet up with some friends. Party - All night 5...
 
Day 7: Daily Mitzvah: Charity (explains approach to those asking for handouts in Jerusalem) Sunday morning brings us back to the wall, learn of its historical significance, have some introspective prayer and teffilin for the guys, culminated with "Bar & Bat mitzvah" ceremonies for the guys and girls who did not have one or a Jewish name. Go to the "City of David" excavations, walk amazing dry tunnels assumed to have been used by King David to capture Jerusalem, and walk through a water tunnel at times knee deep, pitch black that brings the water through the mountain. Eat lunch. From there we go to the Southern Wall excavations where you see the steps leading up to the Beit Hamikdosh (may it be rebuilt), and the pile of rubble (massive stones and arch) recently excavated at the southwest corner of the temple mount. You can feel the longing for the Third Beis Hamikdosh in the air.... Hang out in the Jewish quarter, stimulate the Israeli economy with overpriced souvenirs in the tourist trap...    Back for a talk describing the political situations in all the countries in the middle east (the guy should be a stand up comic, but, not too much appreciation as everyone is SOO tired), dinner and a talk from a group collecting samples for bone marrow matches, truly depicting how as Jews - we are one family. We all hit the sack, some stay up for some more Party all night...
 
Day 8: Daily Mitzvah: Love your fellow (that is why Temple Mount chosen). Have a tour to the new Yad Vashem (which has a major upgraded message to memorialize with hope and rebuilding, rather than haunting shock and awe) and the Children's Holocaust Memorial. Have a pizza lunch. Visit Har Hertzel, learn of his life, visit the memorial of terror victims and graveyard of young soldiers in the military cemetery. After a heavy morning, drive South to visit the desert Bedouins and sleep in a huge tent. Eat dinner, learn of Bedouin hospitality with some good coffee, have some meditation and star gazing in the middle of the desert on the top of a desert mountain, and hardly slept all night on mats on the floor of huge tent. cough, cough, ok.... they slept in the tent we slept in a cabin.... Party all night...
 
Day 9: Daily Mitzvah: Family Purity / Mikvah (Masada even has amazing Mikvahs excavated). Early morning, following a sumptuous breakfast, found all of us perched on top of camels for a trot through the desert.  From there we climbed and explored Masada, dumped money on the souvenir shop, soaked in the Dead Sea and splashed around in Ein Gedi falls and pools. From there... back to Jerusalem. Nice hotel, great dinner, we get our group picture [in a frame!], and convince the nice bar tender to stay open past 11 for us until we drop... the last of the many Party All Nights.
 
Day 10: Daily Mitzvah: Education (Preceding trip to Yeshivah). We head out for taste of Yeshivah study at Mayanot boys and girls Yeshivahs. Then some volunteering at a furniture distribution center that gives out clothes and furniture to needy families. We organize the place, hear about their work, and find out how to come back to Israel for FREE again! From there we hit the Jerusalem Market & Ben Yehudah day scene, and end off with a farewell party / gathering to recollect out thoughts and lay back for t he first time in months at a park. While sitting in a circle a random holocaust survivor shows up and moves everyone to tears with his passion and feelings of his imparted while seeing a young group of American Jews sitting in a park in Jerusalem. To a restaurant for dinner and from there to the airport. There we get our awesome t-shirt designed by our in house artist of a camel laughing, reading "Are you teffilin it? Cause we're farbrengen it!". All night sleep on the plane, arrive home on Thursday afternoon... whew!!!
 
The only Mitzvahs of the ten planned we missed were Kosher & Jewish Books After doing this for the first time, we are strongly considering doing another one in the winter. Any Jew, ages 18-26 who has never been to an organized trip to Israel before, goes FREE! Let me know if you or someone you know wants to go. (You can even go back free if you recruit ten to go....)
 
Welcomed back to a hurricane of emails and work piled up and the fiercest looking hurricane, i mean tropical storm, ummm i mean drizzle we have ever seen!
 
See ya Shabbos!

Rabbi Chaim & Chanie

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