by Carly Sobol, NFTY-EIE Summer 2012 Participant

Shabbat as Pilgrims in Israel My experience on NFTY EIE was incredible. On my first day in Israel I was told that on this trip we are Pilgrims in Israel not travelers. At first I did not understand what being a “pilgrim” in Israel was but looking back I know exactly what Baruch, the NFTY EIE Principal/Director, meant. Being a pilgrim in Israel to me meant living in Kibbutz Tzuba, learning on Tzuba and going on Tiyulim from Tzuba, feeling a part of Israeli society by going out for nights in Jerusalem, eating amazing food, and going on great walks through Tzuba. I felt more connected to Israel each day as I was learning more Hebrew (having began with minimal background) and getting an understanding of Jewish history past and present.

I always looked forward to Shabbat each week knowing we would experience the feeling of Shabbat all around us. On the kibbutz, Shabbat brought a time for family, friends, joy, and rest. My favorite Shabbat in Israel was when we went to a Kabbalah Shabbat service at our teacher David Alon’s synagogue.  The congregation was so welcoming and made me feel as comfortable as in my own synagogue back home. As for the service, I was so proud to be able to understand where we were in the service and what page to be on. I was able to participate in the entire service without the Hebrew language barrier being a problem. This particular night was when it all sunk in that I was in Eretz Yisrael and I am proud to be part of this incredible “Am”. My experience on Shabbat helped me really grasp that coming to Israel for me is about connecting with Jewish culture, prayer, history, and people today. I will never forget my trip with NFTY EIE and how I was able to be a true Pilgrim.