Shnat blog #8 – The Final Chapter – By Ethan Gabriel

Coming off the high holidays and chagim, the final stretch of learning, and shnat, is upon us and the finish line is insight. With almost no breaks to the end of December, the pressure is on for all of us to make the most of the next two months, whether that’s learning, exploring, touring or different. Starting off this period with AZYC closing seminar, all the Aussies were finally back together again for one last seminar to explore the communities that we’re all going back to and discussing ways to establish concrete dialog between us, despite our differences, to build stronger and more Zionist youth movements. We went down south to a kibbutz in the Negev, secluded from everything, we spent two days catching up with old mates who we hadn’t seen in a very long time, discussing our future as the next leaders of our communities at home, and also having a bit of Aussie fun that we all have missed being mixed with so many other nationalities. On the last day we all went to Beer Sheva for the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of Beer Sheva where many Australian and Israeli diplomats, including former Primer Minister John Howard, were present and addressed the crowd of many familiar faces about the ANZAC spirit and the strive for peace within the world and region. Saying goodbye to everyone was definitely very emotional as most other programs were going home and we still had two months left.

Following the seminar Eretz went on a two-day hike from Meron to Nahariyah. Leaving on a Tuesday morning at 2am for the north we get to Meron at sunrise to daven shacharit by the graves of many great rabbis and from there we began the hike west towards the sea. All in energetic moods, the banter was high and everything was fun. Every so often we would take a break and relax, read a few mishniot, do a few push ups, lead by our rosh yeshiva, and continue walking. Sleeping in a school in a town called Ma’alot we continued on our way the next day until we reached the beach where we swam, had a big barbie and davened listening to the waves crash on the sea shore. We drove all the way back to Jerusalem and you can be sure that we ALL slept every minute of that bus ride.

November has been quite an insightful month for all of us as our plans for the year to come have us all very excited, nervous but a little sad as the greatest year of our lives is coming to a close and feels just like yesterday that stepped onto that plane to come to Israel. Whether our plans are university, shana bet, army or Aliyah next year, we all have spent the past month delving as deep as we can into our learning and many of us are showing signs of fatigue, yet despite this we push on to make the most of this incredible experience, and the last month, that our parents have so thankfully given us.

Ethan Gabriel, Melbourne, MTA, Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi