This past weekend was incredible. I went to Tzfat, the place I spent most of my time last time I was here, to celebrate Shabbat and then Purim. What a magical place. The whole time I was on the bus ride up there, I was just in disbelief. I couldn’t believe I was really going back. The place/people/feelings I had been yearning for! This place is what opened me up to so much. Before going on Livnot and being in Tzfat, I was so closed off to religion and spirituality. I was cynical and defensive. I had so many negative associations. It’s taken a lot of work to undo that conditioning, which I couldn’t have done without having the experience I had. I’ve developed so much of my spirituality since being here last. (Clearly – now I am voluntarily enrolled in a seminary!) To return, there in particular, felt so necessary. And a perfect way to spend my first Shabbat in Israel. The place that started it all. Returning to. So fitting.
I spent most of my time lying on this amaaaaazing balcony Livnot has, overlooking this beautiful valley, talking, reading, meditating, doing yoga, and just admiring the sky/mountains/air/birds. The weather was perfect. Sunny with a breeze. It feels like the air is hugging you. You can also sense the antiquity of the area (can you tell I have a thing for old cities?). The Livnot buildings were all excavated, built right into the side of mountains. The energy is unmistakeable.
I keep finding it difficult to accurately articulate what I’m going through here (despite how much I can pontificate), so here is an excerpt from a pretty genuine, non-censored, free association email I wrote while I was at Livnot
this place. oh my god, this place. there are no words. and too many words. so much beauty, love, complexity. the singing. oh my god the singing. i’ve missed it so much. it’s like a long lost sisters embrace. incredible to compare where i am now versus where i was last time i was here. mentally. i was shell shocked by the experience. i didn’t know how to process. and now i can welcome it, with open arms.
the people who are here this week are a funny mix. some older, more mature, pretty cool people and then some spring break oriented people who don’t seem to want to be here. the girls i shared a room with were worried about their cleavage, who was hooking up with who, and how to smuggle as much alcohol under their beds as possible (and drink it all day long). SO different than the group i was with here! but there are some gems, of course. i stayed up most of the night friday night sitting out on the street (and later hiking up to the citadel, overlooking the whole city) talking about the essence of life, the nature of man, suffering, contenment, god, and how its all possible.
last night, on purim, i went with some people to this guys house (away from the party happening at livnot that resembled a middle school dance) and we sat, under the full moon, and they played guitar and drums, with candles in the middle of our circle, and we sang. so beautiful. ive never felt like i could sing before. but it just came out of me. and we made the most beautiful music. and we sang hebrew, and prayers, and lalalalas and it was the most beautiful thing ever. i felt like we were singing directly to the moon/god/everything/nothing. my heart was totally opened.
friday night, a few of us hiked to this citadel and went in an old water cistern which is basically a cave. at like 2am. the most darkness ive ever experience. and silence. and stillness. such a fear of mine. but i did it. and i liked it. and we chanted and sang into the darkness and made our own light. i wish i had the words. i really do. ive found everything! and nothing. and its all the same.
After spending the weekend having mind blowing conversations, making beautiful music, and creating new friendships, I am now back in Jerusalem and ready to officially start as a student at Shirat Devorah. I’m moving out of the Abramson house (even though they’ve basically adopted me as their daughter! so so sweet). I’ll be learning in depth about Torah, Jewish laws, and (most importantly to me) where I fit into this world and how I want it to fit into my life. Who would have thought I’d be willingly living an observant Jewish life! I guess I don’t really like to do things moderately. If I’m going to learn, I’m going to go all in. Who needs the in between?
I am welcoming each new person, experience, and idea with open arms. Trying to unlearn and relearn. Fall down and get up. How lucky I am to be doing this right now! I can’t think of anything more necessary.
Love to all! Know that I’m thinking of you. Xo