Its now 12:18am, Sunday, 24 January 2010. I arrived back in Sydney on Friday morning and I am wide awake and jetlagged. I have decided to put pen to paper and reflect on my first trip to Israel while its still refresh in my mind.
Here is a brief high level oveview of my trip, I will be posting some more detatailed entries on some key events and observations, this is just really a very high level summary of places, people and things I saw.
For the first two weeks I was the Machon Shlomo Step program. (http://www.machonshlomosummer.com/index.asp) with 4 other guys. Really enjoyed the program, learned the first perek of Kiddushin and the fourth perek of Brachos. We got a lot of individual attention and were able to go through the material at our own pace. Overall was really quite impressed by the Machon Shlomo yeshiva, interesting bunch of normal, highly educated and friendly students and teachers. Strong emphasis on introspection and Slabodka style mussar. Food was very good, which was definitely a big plus, this was not your typical yeshiva style menu. Overall would would definitely recommend the Step program and the Machon Shlomo yeshiva for those looking for a dose of serious learning and personal growth.
After Machon Shlomo stayed with my cousin who lives in Har Nof for the remaining two weeks. My cousin, his wife and their family are truly wonderful people who really went out of their way to make my stay enjoyable. While there my cousins wife gave birth to a little girl and another cousin and his family visited us from London. It was very special to be with family at that time, I hadnt seen them all together in about 6 years.
Below is list of things I did while on my trip:
- Went for a swim in the Dead Sea at night with a full moon in the sky glistening on the water
- Hiking in Ein Gedi and Ein Bokek
- Shabbos in Old city, stayed in an apartment right behind the Aish Hatorah building overlooking the Kotel
- Went to Chassidic Tisches – Toldat Aharon, Slonim and Pinsk Karlin. Went back to Slonim, they have this cool meditation thing they do after the tisch in complete darkness.
- Went to Geula, Meah Shearim, Bnei Brak, Beyit Vegan
- Walked through Machane Yehuda at night, also worked around the centre of town and Ben Yehuda Street
- Yad Vashem, absolutely incredible, sad and depressing but well worth the visit
- Visited the Mir Yeshiva, Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, the Belz Shul (was locked but got to walk around the court yards,)
- Spent shabbos in Tzefat, davening in the main Breslov Shul and the Carlebach Bei Rav Shul.
- Davened in Rav Ovadia Yosefs minyan, met Rav Moshe Sternbuch (had a 15 – 20 minute discussion with him, a very interesting personality, not at all what I expected, enjoyable experience)
- Heard shiurim by R’Noach Orlowek (Mashgiah Torah Ore), R’ Gershenfeld (Rosh Yeshiva Machon Shlomo), R’Baruch Horowitz (Rosh Yeshiva Dvar Yerushalayim).
- Had a long interesting conversation at the apartment of Rav Prof Yehuda Levi, truly a remarkable individual, being in his presence you see what makes him great and how he has been able to achieve so much in life
- Had shabbos lunch with Dr Daniel Eidensohn (author of Daat Torah blog and other seforim), thoroughly enjoyed it, very interesting conversation around a myriad of topics. Looking forward to his new upcoming sefer on Child Abuse, etc, I think this one will make some real waves, in a good way
Thats all I can think of for now, I will be posting some further updates and some other musings on the culture, people and Israeli society. For now I have to try and get to sleep, start work first thing Monday morning! Good night everyone.