Thursday, January 5, 2012

Suspending Our Cynicism in Tzfat

“If I must ask you one thing,” our tour guide Muki said upon our entrance to Tzfat, “it is that you temporarily suspend your cynicism.”  With those words, our group began our ascend up the colorful alleys of the ancient birthplace of Jewish mysticism, or Kaballah. 
In the beginning of our tour, two things struck me about this northern Israeli city: the incredible sense of faith displayed by its inhabitants, and its dangerously close proximity to Lebanon (about 8 km).  During the Lebanon war in 2006, mortar shells landed within inches of several Kaballah temples that we visited.  Instead of scaring Jewish scholars away from their places of worship and discovery, these incidents only fueled their passion and ignited their faith. 

To understand this heroism, we visited an Israeli glass blower and artist.  During the Lebanon war, she explained to us the fear she felt while engaging in functions of everyday life, such as sending her kids to school.  Seeking solace from her community’s ongoing hardship, she worked a few hours every night until a new painting was complete.  Pointing to a framed picture behind her, she showed us a blooming tree rooted deeply in the soil.  Not only was the tree, symbolizing the people of Israel, not going anywhere- it was also flourishing and bore the fruit of the country.

This experience, a true testament of the strength and resilience of the Jewish people, truly moved me.  It is interactions like these that forge deep connections between Jewish students and the land of Israel.  I’m looking forward to continue having engaging encounters like this one, and can’t wait for our next day of activities in Israel!

Guy Viner
Penn '14

1 comment:

  1. loved your descriptive anecdote of the painter describing the resiliency of the Jewish faith and courage of Israelis.