Sunday, January 13, 2013

Taglit Mayanot Day 4: Tzfat

I just got back from Israel and I am transcribing the journal from my trip day by day. To start at the beginning, click here!

December 31, 2012
Hebrew word of the day: Baktana (בּקטנה) = No biggy, nothing much

We started the day at a tefillin factory in Tzfat, where we learned how they make tefillin, mezuzot, and Torah scrolls. Tzfat is gorgeous - all stone and hills and blue-trimmed buildings. It is full of kabbalists who you can easily mistake for hippies. We got a quick breakdown of kabbalah from an artist named Avraham Levinthal and it was awesome. Afterwards, we saw two beautiful synagogues - one Sephardic and one Ashkenazi. I go to one of the oldest synagogues in the United States now, but it is nothing compared to these places. I can't imagine praying on a daily or weekly basis in a place with such history and beauty inside and out. I'm starting to sound like a broken record just repeating "this place is beautiful" every two seconds.

For lunch, we got Yemeni pizza - one of the only places in Israel to get it, if I heard our tour guide, Ariel, correctly. Yemeni pizza is more of a cheese and veggie and spice wrapped in dough than the pizza I'm used to, but it is delicious!

Yemeni Pizza, yum!
They are really into art in Tzfat and there are some very talented painters and jewelers. Around the corner from the Ashkenazi synagogue was a candle shop with some incredible carved candles. As we were leaving Tzfat, I looked up and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect blue in all directions from the top of the city to the mountains in the distance.

David and Goliath carved out of wax
Before leaving the north for Tel Aviv, we stopped in Ma'alot to visit Ariel's parents. They are originally from New York City and made Aliyah in 2000, when Ariel was 18. Their house is beautiful with a spectacular view of the mountains. Ariel's dad tried to convince us all to make Aliyah ("Israel is a great place to raise kids") and with a view like they have, it is very tempting.

Our night out in Tel Aviv for New Years Eve was awesome. The small group of us who aren't into clubbing found each other and we all went to a bar without a cover charge and outdoor seating on the boardwalk. It was a lot of fun.

Next stop: touring Tel Aviv!