Wow, it's unthinkable. This blog post literally closes a chapter of my life, as this will be the last descriptive entry about my year in Israel (I will God willing post a couple of reflective pieces). I think keeping up with this blog is one of the best decisions I made this year in terms of the long run.
I missed the first Shabbat of the year, but for Kabbalat Shabbat they went to Yemin Moshe and davened at the Old City overlook. To top off the year, we went again to Yemin Moshe and davened together as Nativ. Yossi was the sha"tz for Kabbalat Shabbat and Elkana for Ma'ariv – at least I found that to be special for us. People stood scattered across the stone plaza, some davening intensely, others just admiring the setting. A little into Kabbalat Shabbat, the siren went off – in the first Jewish settlement in Jerusalem outside of the Old City. After Mizmor L'David, while singing its niggun, we created circles and danced together out of love for Shabbat and the Land of Israel. Then Yossi chose Im Eshkachech as the tune for Lecha Dodi – certainly an emotional moment as we overlooked the Old City. There's not too much to tell about the dinner that followed. Immediately after dinner was Nativ-a-Tisch, with the largest group of the year singing favorites from the year, including many tunes people learned during the year. V'yitnu lecha keter melucha (a song I brought to the tisch at the beginning of the year and a Nativ favorite going back a few years) was at its best.
Shabbat morning I went to Yakar, a favorite of mine from this year. I walked to and fro with Cori and had some good conversations about the spiritual realities of Nativ and the Jewish world. I received an aliyah at schul, and there was a brit milah after – very cool! Lunch happened, a nap, and then Yossi's program. This was also something done at the beginning of the year that I missed; it's similar to "boundary breakers" but most of the questions were to be answered in a word or phrase. It starts with mundane questions, like "what's your favorite movie," and then escalates to questions about questions about the impact of this year, etc. Part of the point was to see where people have gotten to since the beginning of the year. Afterwards was Mincha, and the big end of the year talk with Yossi. He delivered a strong message about the importance of being good lay leaders and bringing positive change to our Jewish communities and admonished fiercely (but necessarily) against intermarriage as the downfall of our people. Finally, our last seudat shlishit (thank God because those always sucked) and singing, then Ma'ariv and Havdalah. Motza'ei Shabbat I just hung around and went out a little bit – I bought my last bottle of wine for a very long time.
Sunday – our last day, wow!!! When you spend a long time doing something, it's hard to imagine any sort of routine coming to an end, and waking up in Jerusalem for the last time (given that we knew we were coming back even when we weren't officially there) was weird. I woke up on the earlier side to daven at the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City, a synagogue established a number of centuries ago that has been destroyed and refurbished a few times – most recently destroyed in 1948 by the Jordanians and most recently refurbished in March of this year – so I wanted to see it before leaving. I then went to the shuk with Sender to do some last shopping, and then I had to start packing. At 1 p.m. Yeruham track left for the Anna Ticho house for our end-of-year banquet, and at 4:30 we had our all-Nativ banquet (basically snacks and presentations). And then that was it – we left Beit Nativ for good, went to the airport, v'zehu. My thoughts going to the airport will appear in the larger reflections I will write soon.