I am currently sitting at Zion Gate overlooking the roofs of the Old City of Jerusalem, the golden light pouring down and the presence of holiness tangible. Jealous? My day consisted of enthralling new topics in the internship of my dream, a delicious felafel from the city centre of Jerusalem and a night filled with accents from around the world. Jealous now? Here within this blog, is your own personal entry within the gates of Jerusalem (literally) and the daily lives of us here at Way More Israel. Welcome, Brochim Ha’abim.
The walls of the Old City of Jerusalem // The Light Show on the Old City walls (Davids Harp)
What a journey the past three weeks has been – from volunteering on the mountain tops of a holy city, to hiking through the Negev (desert) amongst 800 year old trees, sleeping next to archeological treasures and learning next to the Western Wall – picture your ultimate summer…we are living it. If you were to come take a walk through the places that we are staying on one side you would have the tomb of King David, on the other you would have the Room of the Last Supper, below you would have 6 shekel coffee, a few steps down wold be the Western Wall and surrounding you would be the famous Jerusalem stones (which on a side note make for the best photograph backgrounds).
The Aish Building Tour // The Light Show on the Old City walls
Lets discuss our first week…lugging suitcases through the stoned floors of Jerusalem is never a pretty sight, it is the moment, however, when everything has settled and you look up onto the history that surrounds you that it makes it all worth it. In my mind I just thought “does it get any better than this?” People from all corners of the world brought their 23kgs up the stairs, meets and greets occurred, the common “where are you from” question could be heard throughout – this is when I realized that for the next two months these people are my new family. Who knew I as a South African girl was expanding my life-long friendships to Las Vegas, New York, Venezuela and more?! Orientation, meals, ulpan and volunteering all made up our first week of this journey. Walking through the halls of Shalva, a world recognized organization which assists in the upbringing and wellness of children with disabilities and their families – one thinks to themselves, we have SO MUCH to be grateful for.
Tour of Shalva // Jerusalem Day Tour
Now on to the topic of ulpan – by the way might I mention that we will be leaving here more Israeli than one would think (Sababa?) In a room filled with eager learners and excited brains, our letters turned into words, which turned into sentences which furthered conversations. There is no better feeling than connecting to the language of your people, the language of the country whose streets you have been walking. Songs were sung, games were played, phrases were learnt and memories were created. This was our first linguistic step to achieving Way More (of) Israel.
Walks Through the Old City // Walking Home From Internships // Pre-Shabbat View over the Rooftops
Then arrived our first Shabbat…lighting candles with our new sisters, saying blessings that mentioned the name of the city that we are standing in, bringing in the Shabbat presence in the holiest way possible. Once finished, we all made our way down to the Kotel (Western Wall) – ancient songs could be heard as we travelled down the stairs during the golden sunset, our hearts new that we were walking into a memory that would last a lifetime. Holding the hands of people we have never met, saying prayers that we could now understand, feeling the energy of Shabbat circling all around us. Filled to the brim with emunah (faith) we were all very generously placed in authentic Old City homes for Shabbat dinner (thank you Jeff Seidel). Walking through the stone passages felt as if we had stepped back in time, hearing Shalom Alechem with every step and smelling the freshness of oven baked challah – this, my friends, is what Shabbat is all about. Delicious meals surrounded by heavenly conversations, wine glasses topped up surrounded by laughter and connections being formed in the holiest way possible. This could all only lead to a Shavuah Tov (‘good week’ – a phrase used when Shabbat comes to an end). The rest of Shabbat consisted of more food, mediation on the rooftops, introspection, Israeli sun and Havdalah that closed it all with a magical and musical finale.
The Kotel (Western Wall) at 3am // Havdalah at the Kotel
I would carry on writing but I am afraid with all the memories that have been made, it might have to become a book. Stay tuned for our blog posts and join us in gaining Way More Israel than we could have ever wished for.