Day 5: Finding Jewish Unity

Unity – April 30, 2022

By Amy Kaufman

After almost missing our bus (oops I might have overslept) much of our cohort spent Shabbat exploring Masada, the Dead Sea, Havdalah, and ended our evening on Ben Yehuda street.    

Our first stop was Masada National Park.  After packing in the tram like a bunch of sardines, we make our way atop the mountain and into the fortress.  Masada was built in the year 30 BCE by King Herod.  In 68CE Masada was the last stronghold of a group of Jewish zealots during the great revolt against Rome.  

While we visited the sites we reflected on how hard it must have been to live up there yet how innovative the people were with their watering systems and agriculture.  We also reflected on what the message the people from Masada were telling us today as Jewish leaders in 2022.  What lessons could we take from their experiences and their leadership thousands of years ago?  

After a very svitsy exploration of Masada (it was only 103 degrees), Cohort X was ready for some fun and relaxation at the Dead Sea! We had fun floating in the water and playing with mud. Yep…you got that right.  Even leaders need to play in mud sometimes!

We concluded Shabbat with a very powerful Havdalah.  We reflected on the meaning of Shabbat and how we see ourselves as Jews far from the Jewish homeland.  Without realizing it, we formed a heart from above. 

After sundown most of us went to Ben Yehuda Street to eat, kibbitz, and shop for Judaica items.  

After dinner, one of our cohort members accidentally dropped a water glass off the table and it shattered into a million pieces onto the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem.  Suddenly friends, workers, people walking down the streets started singing in unity, “Mazel Tov”, “Siman Tov”, and “Yasher Kaoch”. Suddenly, dancing broke out on the street.  It was a profound sense of belonging, of unity, and of togetherness.