With a pretty long stretch in yeshiva/midrasha, we were ready for something a little bit different over bein hazmanim, getting the chance to experience a really dynamic variety of activities over the break.
We began with the trip to Poland which is truly an experience that can only be understood with one’s own eyes. It completely transformed each individuals understanding of the holocaust based off their limited knowledge from school. It was one of the hardest, intense weeks of my life, but one that was so important and impactful in the context of this year and life onwards. Wake ups were early, bed times were late and every minute was fully maximised to try and expose ourselves to as much as possible of the former strength of European Jewry and all that was lost. Each person walked away with different highlights, lessons, appreciations and emotions, but the trip was also highly beneficial for the group dynamic, forming closer, honest connections between people through shared experiences. We laughed, we cried and we remembered.
We then returned to Israel, very excited to be back, for a post Poland shabbaton as well as tisha b’av. We stayed at Jerusalem Gold which was a great throwback to Oz Sem 6 months ago and took the opportunity to process our experiences. Being on a program for Tisha B’av, specifically in Jerusalem was quite special, making the experience a little bit easier to relate to then normal. We read megillat eicha at the tayelet overlooking the old city.
The boys then headed up north to Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv for the week, a big contrast with the business of Poland. We all worked together, getting up at 5 am to pick olives in the field. By 8 it was already too hot to work so from then the day was ours to relax and enjoy ourselves. We took advantages of our surroundings, spending hours at the beautiful maayan (natural spring) at the kibbutz while also catching up on some sleep from the first 6 months of the year. It was an awesome week to enjoy the summer and rejuvenate before elul coming up in yeshiva.
For the rest of chofesh, we have a few days working the land and hiking with hashomer chadash before a few days off followed by Zionism seminar. I’ve really enjoyed the variety of experiences over the break and can’t wait to get back into yeshiva again.
Noah Epstein, Melbourne, MTA, Gush