Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shabbat ba'Aretz

Mossa'ei Yom HaKippurim 5768

Shabbat ba'Aretz

The various communities in Yehudah & Shomron (Judea & Samaria) are a lot more diverse than you might think. And, so there are diverse kinds of Shabbath experiences available to you, and all you need to do is pick up the phone.

"Shabbat ba'Aretz" (Shabbat In the Land) is a program connecting 18 - 35 year olds with families in Yehudah & Shomron for Shabbat. Learn about the Jewish People's Biblical connection to the land first hand, and meet the people who have returned to our ancient homeland.

Please call Jackie (02-9974030 or 054-6302174) by Tuesday to guarantee placement. First-come, first-serve. Please call between 9:00 AM and 10:00 PM. For your protection, Egged Buses have protective shields on their windows.

The Egged Bus schedule (English) provides you with easy and up-to-date, travel information from Jerusalem. Some buses are also available to Yehudah & Shomron from Tel-Aviv, Netanyah, K'far Saba, and Be'er Sheva. The Dan Bus Company provides many buses per day from Gush Dan (Greater Tel-Aviv Area) to the Shomron.

"Shabbat ba'Aretz" is also looking for families to host. At this point, families in which both the husband and wife speak English are being sought for hosting.


Elnaqam 4My personal experiences hosting have been,... well,... unique. A lot of yeshivah students have been attracted to my town, K'far Tapu'ah, mainly by word of mouth.

I'd get the "call" from my neighbor, usually on a Friday afternoon, after the only store in town closed:

"Ya'aqov, a few extra guys showed up for Shabbos. Can you spare the room?"

I wish I could say that I acted like a tzaddiq about it. Last year, I was working nights, and tried to maintain my crazy nocturnal schedule even on Shabbath. We tried to limit the living room to two guys, and to very quiet ones at that. Last Shabbath Hanukkah (ner rishon), my roommate's friend, and fellow blogger, Doodle Head, came up with a couple of his friends, so I agreed to an exception.

As usual, all turned out well. The guys appreciated the warm place to sleep and snacks between meals, and conversation. Hint: Always have a spare, unopened bag of gar'inim (sunflower or other seeds) laying around. They can go along way with fruit, cake, and hot drinks.

Since then, I have been able to perform this simple, and particularly enjoyable misswah, simply by throwing a couple mattresses on the ground, and telling my guests a little about my town, starting with its Biblical history (Josh. 17), and the history of the surrounding area, the territory of Efraim to the south, and Mennasheh to the north, including Shkhem and Qever Yosef. Qever Yehoshu'a is just to our West near the City of Ariel.

Now a days, my friends Yekutiel and Ezra host meals for the 10 to 20 yeshivah students and families who come up for Shabbath on their half-year old hill, Elnaqam 4 (pictured above). Most of the guys do not want to miss out on the chance to sleep there, so my living room is bare nowadays. I shlep up past the town fence to the hill, passing olive groves and other fruit trees, the goats' barn, and the cemetery to join the fun. It is before the "Tapu'ah West" hill. Guests are so used to being within an eruv on Shabbath, they have to be reminded that there isn't one past the fence, nor on the hill.

Inside the big tent, equipped with electricity and running water, the atmosphere is very Shabbostik, to say the least with great food, divrei Torah, and lots of singing.

The morning includes davening on the "Tapu'ah West" hill, meals in the tent, and tours and talks about life in the Shomron.

A few weeks ago, guests were treated to helping a newly-wed couple celebrate, at one of their Sheva Brakhoth (wedding celebration) meals.

Men are not the only ones to enjoy Shabbath in Tapu'ah. When there is a request by women, the weekend is reserved for them, and the boys are told to come the following week. So far, a couple or groups of seminar and university students have enjoyed Shabbath here in Tapu'ah.

This is only one town's experience with Shabbat ba'Aretz. There are many experiences out there to be had in the diverse group of towns within Yehudah & Shomron.

So, whether you would like to host or be a guest, whether you live in Israel or are just visiting, just give our friend Jackie a call by Tuesday, between 9:00 AM and 10:00 PM, and see what is available (02-9974030 or 054-6302174).

Just think about what a great way such an experience would be to start off your new year!


Those who like to donate money to promote and expand the program
should contact Menachem

*All money will be used for advertising the program.

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