Submitted by Zach Epstein, Class of 2013
We began the day driving through Mitzpeh Gadot, an abandoned Syrian outpost and learned about Israel’s miraculous victory in the 1967 Six Day War as well as the war’s aftermath.
Soon we arrived at Tzfat, a center of Jewish mysticism that today is full of synagogues, alleyways, and art stores. After the destruction of the second temple, many rabbis headed from Jerusalem north to Tzfat. Glancing at the deep expanse of hills pointing toward Jerusalem, one can see how the rabbis were inspired to develop a new understanding of the Torah. In Tzfat they wrote the Mishnah, which is a commentary of the Talmud, which is a commentary of the Torah.
We first entered a Sephardic-looking Ashkenazi synagogue. The synagogue was circular, blue/white with an elevated platform in the middle and a chair in the corner for circumcision. Next we entered a candle shop with an amazingly-crafted giant David-killing-Goliath candle and a giant candle replica of the Second Temple.
To finish the afternoon we entered the shop of a glassblower from Denver who used to paint dark paintings, made aliyah (moved to Israel), then began painting very bright, pastel paintings. She told us how her Noah’s Ark painting, instead of dwelling on the destruction, presents the joy of redemption. Through another painting, she pointed out that the women of Israel knew to bring instruments when leaving Egypt so that they could celebrate and praise G-d if G-d were to free us from Egypt.