“Yeverechecha” is a very familiar and meaningful word to me. In a simple sense means “bless”, but it holds so much more meaning than that to me. Every Friday, I feel the warm, loving hands of my parents on my head as they say these words with the same inflection as the week before, speaking slowly and calmly. I make silly faces to my brother and my savta and feel completely at home. This Friday evening’s “yeverechecha” had a surprising meaning; I thought it was going to feel foreign without my parents’ hands on my head, but to my surprise it was the same. The entire week before this one moment I was homesick to the point of tears and panic. I had never been overseas until I stepped foot in Ben Gurion airport. But when I stood in the small room in our crumbling hotel in Tzfat, I forgot about all my anxiety and homesickness. I forgot the heartache, the distance, the exhaustion, and the pain. At that moment, as I felt the warm, loving hands of my friends on my shoulders, I finally felt at home. This was the beginning of the best Shabbat of my life.
My classmates and I reluctantly surrendered our phones to Mrs. Amkraut and Mr. Faulkner as dusk began to fall over the ancient bricks and slanted streets. My long black skirt swayed in the cool, evening breeze. My ears filled with the sounds of intense prayer emitting from both sides of the dividers (mechitza). We then traveled onto another service that was held on the corner of a street peppered with commotion. A strange hand under a dimly lit shwarma sign suddenly pulled me. I was reluctant to join in, but I gradually got more and more involved, jumping and singing praise with people from all different walks of life. I felt more connected to Hashem than any time before.
After an exhilarating prayer experience, we returned to a dining room where every word one said was echoed across the way. A meal which included several delicious courses which were devoured by the hungry, growing teens. The laughter flew through the room as did the love. We joined in zmirot, a tradition held dear in my household, and performed an energetic Birkat Hamazon.
Havdalah concluded our time in Tzfat, and we realized that the devices we were handed were nothing compared to the togetherness and view of Mount Meron we experienced over this amazing Shabbat.
An early Happy Mothers Day to my mother and to all the Schechter moms, we love you and miss you so much!
Grace Bloom, Gross Schechter Day School