Tiyul 2022 Blog / Day 4: April 30, 2022 | Shabbat in Tel Aviv
  • Tiyul 22 Day 4
Emma V., Leah V., Emma S., Danny L., Daphne M., Ariel G. & Izzy S.

Egalitarian Shabbat Morning Service

The trees and flowers were so beautiful as my group and I were walking to an Egalitarian synagogue on Saturday. The streets were wide and filled with little shops and cafes. As we approached the synagogue, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. It was a medium-sized room with couches and chairs set around the ark of the Torah. There were around 15 people there before our group arrived. As soon as we walked in, they immediately welcomed us. A lady showed us a place to sit down and gave us the correct siddur. As we listened to the prayers, I thought about how individual and personal the service felt. After the prayers—the rabbi gave his D’var Torah about the parasha—specifically about the written punishment for incest. What I found most interesting is that the rabbi opened the floor for discussion after he was done reading. People shared their thoughts, opinions and feelings. I found this special because it really shows that the rabbi doesn’t dominate the service and that they are open to suggestions. After the service was finished, they told us how grateful they were that we had come from Chicago and that they hoped we would come again.

Modern Orthodox Shabbat Morning Service

Casually walking into the service, we noticed how welcoming it was. We were greeted and sat down divided by gender. During the service, we began to realize how many more people had filled up the entire sanctuary. It felt like a big community. All of the sudden, we noticed two of our classmates up on the bima, carrying the Torah into the ark. After the service was over, a representative of the synagogue asked us to stay for Kiddish, which was an offer we couldn’t refuse! Although this service was a little different then what we are used to, and the separation of the women and men felt a little harsh, the whole experience was life-changing. They were so welcoming and we could call it one of the best experiences at a synagogue we have ever had.

Sephardic Orthodox Shabbat Morning Service

It was Shabbat morning, and I just arrived to a Sephardic orthodox synagogue. At first I was intimidated by the intense fluent praying going on, but as time went on I started to get interested. Everyone was doing their own thing; some people were sitting down not praying, others were standing up intensely praying. This would be the case until the end of the service; at the end of the service random people would be called on to read a chapter of the Mishnah. The person on the bema would say the names of almost everyone, not keeping age into account. The age gap went from a little kid, to a grandpa. I was impressed by how everyone participated in such a seamless way. Although we were separated  by gender, it was an amazing experience that brought everyone together, klal Israel.

A Reform Synagogue Shabbat Morning Service

When we walked into the synagogue, a wave of relief came over one of the rabbi’s faces. Before our group had entered, the rabbi was leading a group of 9, which is one short of a minyon. We were welcomed by these people and they were very open and even spoke in English to make sure we understood. Every student was asked to say an Aliyah and some were even asked to say the prayer over Israel. After the service, the rabbis were interested in getting to know us and where we came from. The synagogue community was small and they were happy to have us there. We loved seeing how Jewish people in Israel practice their religion in a very similar way to how we practice in Chicago.

The Beach in Tel Aviv

As soon as we got to the beach, we felt a rush of adrenaline. We all knew what we were at the beach for: the Mediterranean Sea. As a grade, we sprinted to the spot where we would leave our stuff, racing to be the first to step into the crystal blue water. The chill of the water hit all of us in a rush and stopped us in our tracks. We splashed and splashed each other until we had the courage to go further. For the next hour, we skipped a ball, pushed each other around and laughed together. Soon the cold got the best of us, and though we got out of the water, boredom was NOT an option. Anything-but-hands volleyball, hole digging and conversation were keeping us busy as we basked in the sun. As the sun slowly approached the horizon, it was time to leave and soak up the last moments of Shabbat.