Coming from a non-observant home, Shabbat was not an aspect of Jewish life I had truly experienced in a religious context. From the opening conference until now I have been fortunate enough to have had amazing experiences with Shabbat. Whether I stayed with family, made dinner with cohort members at the Kfar, or the Shabbaton organized by the Nachshon Project I truly have found the magic in Shabbat. During our Shabbaton in the city of Alon Shvut, our Cohort was privileged to stay with families that were willing to open up their homes for us. Shabbat is such a special time for Jewish families in Israel. Sixteen different families were willing to feed and house all of our Cohort. The kind and compassion these families showed were enormous from the moment we walked in the door. The home I stayed in had young children who were energetic not only to meet us but to tell us about their life and really foster a connection in such a short time. After getting acquainted with the family, eating the food they had so kindly prepared, and getting ready in the nice space given we headed off to the local shul. Immediately after speaking with the other members of the Cohort about their home stays I knew that the people here were special. Each member told me how about how warm and welcoming the family they were staying with was and how excited they were to get to know them better over dinner. Following services, my Pardes teacher was kind enough to host my entire class for dinner. Bonding with him and his family was an experience like no other. The interest all of his children took in getting to know us and formulate a relationship was so impactful to the overall experience. Upon returning to my original host stay, the mother Deborah could not have been kinder ensuring everything we could have needed was there. My fellow cohort members and I are forever grateful to the families that so kindly hosted us.
By Zoe Shir