Friday, December 14, 2012

Women of the Wall Rosh Chodesh Tevet

I recently learned about Women of the Wall and their struggle for equality at the Kotel, the Western Wall, the most significant religious site for Jews. Every Rosh Chodesh they go to the Kotel to pray together in a minyan (technically, a group of 10 Jewish men, but for them, 10 Jewish women.) They have been facing a lot of hostility from police/government. The rabbinut, Orthodox rabbis, controls the Kotel and what is allowed to happen there. So this morning, was Friday and we didn't have school, so I wanted to go and show my support...

I came early before the other women entered and filmed a little of the men's side. They get to read Torah, dance, wear tallit and tefillin. All things the women aren't allowed to do at the Kotel yet. 

A woman who refused to take off her tallit (prayer shawl) at the Western Wall was arrested. Clearly she didn't do anything wrong. 
The Kotel at sunrise with rain, really beautiful. 

The men praying on their side, reading Torah peacefully. The Chanukia is there for Hanukkah! 

She is giving us instructions on entering. They will take our tallits, if we don't let them, they will arrest us. I gave them mine, they held it at the gate until I exited much later. When they took it, I told them it was really important to me, I asked the head officer if he used a tallit when he prayed and he said yes. I told him that I wanted to use it to use my tallit to pray. He told me that there is a law in Israel against women using them. And I said, "who's law? HaShem's law?!?! No way." The officer laughed and smiled, but I still didn't get to take my tallit with me. 

The police put an extra barrier so the men who prayed in support couldn't stand too closely to us. This police man was really nice to me and said good morning to me after I said boker tov with a smile. I think he liked me, why wouldn't he? =) 

One thing that was upsetting to me was seeing Orthodox Jewish women come up to us and tell us to be quiet and that what we were doing was horrible. But there were other women who just happened to be there and saw us gave us huge smiles and thumbs up! 

Derek came to support the women at the wall. He prayed on the other side of the barrier next to us! It really made me feel great to see him there. (At school he is Naomi's chevruta in Gemara, what a lucky lady!) 

This girl was arrested for not taking off her tallit. I talked to this guard. His name is Lior, he is SO nice! I asked him when I was leaving if he really cared about praying at the wall. And he said, of course I don't care, I enjoyed it! (He had come into the Kotel to watch us pray too.) I feel bad for the police men, they don't really want to be doing this. 

During Hallel, special prayers we say on extra special days like Rosh Chodesh (the first of the Jewish month) Hanukkah, and other holidays. I really had an urge to dance. Most of the service, I was standing in the back on a bench. I had a good view. But when Hallel started, it was so exciting! It was time to celebrate, and Rosh Chodesh is really a women's holiday. So it's really important to me. Jewish women really should own it. Anyway, I was excited, and I felt like our group of 100 women was a little afraid, as they should have been because four women had already gotten arrested. But I came down off my bench and walked around the front to where Naomi and Mary Brett (two of my great girlfriends from Pardes) were praying. Some other women were swaying, almost dancing. I grabbed Mary Brett's hand and another woman who I didn't know and we formed a circle and away we went. We were dancing at the Kotel! Immediately more women joined! It was so exciting and for a short time I forgot we should have been nervous and just danced for God and out of joy. It's so wonderful to dance with women, it's so strong and carefree. But within a few seconds (less than 30) police game and told us to settle down. We were being too loud and rowdy. But it was too late. We did it, and it was amazing. The chazzan changed tunes and we went back to being quieter. At the end of hallel during Song of the Sea we danced one more time. I was a little more nervous this time. I knew the police would come. When we stopped my legs were shaking, but it was so worth it. The women left the regular Kotel area and went to Robinson's Arch to finish the Torah service. 

I was very happy too because a year ago I wouldn't have been able to daven/pray with them. I didn't know how, and now after being at Pardes, I felt very confident in my abilities and really felt a strong connection to what was going on and I really wanted to be there to pray, to give thanks and praise and rejoice. All things I didn't know how to do in a traditional, productive way not a very long time ago. 

The whole thing was inspiring to me. I'm sure for others it was depressing, but it gave me hope. Everyone knows I like a good fight. I felt like I really belonged in that moment at exactly that time. With exactly those people. Doing exactly what I was doing, and that was a great feeling.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Shabbat

We had an amazing Thanksgiving and Shabbat Friday night. There were 19 people at our table. It was so beautiful and filled with blessing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Unfortunately, a new experience.

Shavua tov! I hope everyone had a restful and peaceful Shabbat. Although I'm sure for thousands of people in Israel that didn't happen. As I was walking to Beit Knesset (Synagogue) the siren went off to warn Jerusalem that there was a rocket in the air. As Joseph and Daniel and I were walking, we saw people running for cover. I told them we had 30 seconds, so we just continued walking. About 15 sec
onds later we heard and felt our first rocket. It hit north of Jerusalem and no one was hurt. We continued on our way to pray. It was a beautiful evening with music and singing. I had dinner with a very loving family and today I went to listen to my roommate read Torah, which he did beautifully, and then played basketball with goes on normally for now. Let's hope that peace is near and that no one else is hurt on either side. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Shabbat to remember

Last night, I had 30 women studying at Pardes over to my house for Shabbat. I was really worried about inviting so many people, but I just couldn't only invite some, as I really love every woman at Pardes and really wanted to have a beautiful experience in my home.

Seeing that it was going to be such a safe space, I told myself that I was going to lead Kiddush, which I did for the very first time! I had my best friend, Hannah, stand next to me for support, and help, and it was amazing. The "L'chaim" of only women's voices was beautiful. And singing zimrot, (songs) was also so much fun and women who may have been shy in another setting, were just stunning. Everyone was glowing and I was so happy that everything worked out!

Today at lunch, I went to Suzanne and Max Singer's home. They were hosting a Shabbat Connections meal and I was lucky enough to be invited. There were two students from HUC Rabbinical School, a young woman who is 23 but already a lawyer in Israel, her boyfriend who builds websites (he is making Alex's website and another man who teaches literature to Palestinian's in East Jerusalem. (He is the only Jewish person on the school's faculty.) Besides the fact that Suzanne and Max are so interesting themselves, it was an amazing group. Lunch went so long in conversation and it felt like we had just arrived.  Everyone had such beautiful stories and wonderful future goals. This video was made about Alex's life and about the book that was complied with his letters and drawings.

I'm in the middle of the book now and I understand that Alex died, but I am falling in love with him, his ideas, beliefs, actions, hopes, and struggles. At the same time I am going through a mourning process because I know that he is no longer here, but to me, I just met him, and l'm losing him at the same time. Every time I pick up the book, it comes with tears.

Being in Suzanne and Max's home today, being surrounded with Alex's drawings and pictures, and also their love and openness, was beautiful, but difficult. I was near tears a few times in their home, trying to think of other things, but my thoughts quickly coming back to Alex.

I know that Alex and his family have effected my life. I always find it interesting when things are introduced into someone's life. Why did I find Alex's book now and not last year? How did I end up at Pardes when I was 26? Why do certain people come in and out of our lives when they do...etc.

Obviously there aren't answers. But I am grateful nonetheless. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Homemade Kosher Little Debbies

I made homemade Little Debbie oatmeal sandwiches. If you don't know what Little Debbie is, click here

Nothing with this much butter could be bad, but they were delicious!!


Alex Singer Hike

Last week I went on a hike that I had first heard about over a year ago. I was probably busy last year and didn't pay much attention. But last year, always around pesach, Pardes put up special art work and poems in the hallway. Not only was it beautiful, it came with a story that really touched me. The art was done by Alex Singer who was an American who made aliyah, and was killed two years later on the Lebanese border. I read the same poem almost every day for a month and every time I almost cried. This man was the same age as me and already he had stronger convictions that I would ever admit to myself. 

So this year, when DLK talked about the hike, and despite the hike being on a difficult day, the morning before a holiday, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn't know what it would be like, but I knew I had to learn more and be a part of this man's life, even if he was no longer here. 

The hike's theme was focusing on Alex's time in Europe. I felt very connected to this topic because I also spent some time in college in Europe and traveled extensively, including most Jewish sites, and it was my first time going to Poland and Auschwitz. It was definitely a significant time in my life in the development of my Jewish identity. 

We started the hike at the Scrolls of Fire, which is an amazing sculpture by Nathan Rapoport,, who also did a famous monument in Warsaw.

Scrolls of Fire

Me with Suzanne and Max Singer, Alex's parents. 

They set up a circle of Alex's pictures with some writings on the back. We had the opportunity to take one, read it, and share our thoughts. I became very emotional reading Alex's words. It was about being unable to live outside of Israel, and outside of a Jewish community. I always feel like Alex is speaking directly to me. 

The Pardes crew with Max and Suzanne! 

I know I will take Alex's story, art, poems, and writings with me. Especially into the classroom. I know Alex will effect my future students' lives as well. Thank you for this opportunity.  

Friday, September 28, 2012


Recently, with the help of a teacher and a friend, I have taken on the mitzvah of tefillin. To be honest, I'm not sure when I really started wanting to try it, it's such a personal experience so it's hard to say, "I wanted to have this feeling, so I started to wrap tefillin." But I did want to see what feeling it would give me and if it would enhance my prayer experience. One thing for sure, it helps me focus. When I feel the leather biting into my arm, it brings me back to my prayer and whatever intention I'm trying to have. 

Another part that I really like it seeing the lines it leaves on my arms hours later into the day. I don't know if it's because I have really soft skin, or I wrap too tightly, but the lines stay on my arms for hours! It's a really good reminder of being in that place of prayer and still having that concentration while I'm not "praying" anymore. An hour later when I'm contemplating if I have time to help someone, and I see the lines, I'm like..."yes, of course, I'll help, I just prayed to be a better person!" 

I have only be wrapping tefillin for two weeks, so if I have any big spiritual moments, I'll post more. 
This picture was very Erev Yom Kippur. Naomi and I went to Tel Aviv to do a mikvah in the ocean, and we're praying before we went into the water. It was an AMAZING experience! I felt so pure going into Yom Kippur! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dvar Torah

I wrote a Dvar Torah (Words of Torah) for our Shabbaton this weekend. So here it is.

Since we’re in the season of teshuva, I wanted to share some a very wise and inspiring Rabbi (Michael Hattin) once wrote, “teshuva is...a gradual awakening of the mind and soul to God’s call, a measured but steady process of self-evaluation and reflection, a plodding and sometimes faltering series of steps that includes dead ends, blind alleys, and even devastating retreats, but once unleashed, the momentum of the process cannot be stayed.”

Now I can definitely say that it is gradual and steady process...but before I came to Pardes I had no idea what teshuva was, I had never even heard the word. But I did want to love G-d. All I knew how to do was try to be a better person. (because surely G-d would at least want this.) I wanted to be a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better citizen, be better to the environment, have a healthier lifestyle. So
I started reflecting, and thinking, and doing self-evaluations. Apologizing to people who I had hurt and making amends, and I started being kinder and more patient.

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe is talking to bnei Israel right before they are going to enter the land. And telling them to keep the mitzvot, and when you do them, G-d will do good things for you. But Moshe doesn’t just say, “when you do the mitzvot” he also says,

כִּי תָשׁוּב אֶל יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשֶׁךָ:
when you return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.

What does “return” mean? It has the same shoresh as teshuva. Could it be the same teshuva that Michael described about the process of self-evaluation and reflection? I would like to suggest that it is because Moshe continues:

כִּי הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם לֹא נִפְלֵאת הִוא מִמְּךָ וְלֹא רְחֹקָה הִוא:

For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away.

לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַעֲלֶה לָּנוּ הַשָּׁמַיְמָה וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַעֲשֶׂנָּה

It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"

וְלֹא מֵעֵבֶר לַיָּם הִוא לֵאמֹר מִי יַעֲבָר לָנוּ אֶל עֵבֶר הַיָּם וְיִקָּחֶהָ לָּנוּ וְיַשְׁמִעֵנוּ אֹתָהּ וְנַעֲשֶׂנָּה

Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?”

כִּי קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר מְאֹד בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ
Rather this thing is very close to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.

Teshuva is really something that is obtainable to everyone, even to people who may not know what teshuva is. Everyone has the ability to reflect, pursue G-d, enter a process of improvement and awakening, even if it does involve roadblocks and hardship along the way. But honestly, isn’t anything worth obtaining, difficult?

I have a challenge that may help you grow and reflect and start this process if you haven’t. There is a website called 10 Questions,
that for every day between the chaggim, they will send you a question. And then, in one year, they will send you what you answered and you can reflect upon your growth over the past year. And considering that you are just starting out on your year at Pardes and we all have a year of learning and growth ahead of us. I think it’s an amazing way for us to reflect and concretely see our growth.  

I hope, regardless of whether you do the 10 Questions or not. And whether you see teshuva as this intense process; you hear Moshe’s words that this is close to you and it is possible. I want to give everyone a bracha, me too, why not, that in the upcoming days, we take time to reflect upon who we are, right now, today, at this point. Because only from this point, can we move forward and become closer to G-d.

Robert Kraft and Israeli Football

Israeli Football League from Grace Barcenas on Vimeo.

The link is to a video made about the IFL. I am in it a few times, but I am most recognizable at 1:45.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Honor to host!

 This past Shabbat, Joseph, my roommate, and I had the honor of hosting 10 new Pardes students at our home. We were really excited about the prospect and really went all out.  We had the most amazing evening, and even though we really tried to create a beautiful Shabbat space and atmosphere, I feel like the people really made all the different to the oneg (joy) we felt at Shabbat. There are a few pictures below of the food, and table. (And Joseph, you are an amazing chef!)

Mandelbread, of course...

Beautiful colors, beautiful cabbage salad! 

Joseph made a Persian dish called "Kuku," it's egg, cauliflower, onion, and parsley. It's delicious! 

I carved "Shalom" into a watermelon!!! Everyone loved it! 
This is another watermelon "Shabbat" that I carved last year. Clearly, I should carve these at the same time, but that would really be a lot of work! 

All the craziness with the grass was worth it! Look at how beautiful our Shabbat was! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

כיסוח הדשא

יש לי סיפור ארוך. אבל תכין את עצמך כי יש לי הרבה קיטורים. כשנכנסנו לדירה שלנו לא היה דשא. אבל רצינו דשא. אחרי שמונה חודשים סוף סוף קיבלנו דשא. כשקיבלנו את הדשא, הייתי עם נפטי באירופה. אחרי עוד חודש כשנפטי הסתיים, הגעתי  לביתי. והדשא גדל לגובה של הברכיים שלי! אם אתה יודע משו על  כיסוח דשא, אתה יודע שזה לא קל עם דשא גבוה. היתה לי מצוקה והייתי לחוצה. ידעתי שזה יהיה מבצע מסובך. חשבתי אין לי 
מכסחה, אני לא רוצה לשלם מישהו, ואבא שלי לא פה!!! הוא היה יודע מה לעשות אם הוא היה איתי! אני יכולה 
לחלום! פחדתי שהדשא ימות!

יום אחת קמתי מרעש מהמגרש של השכנים שלי! אף פעם לא פגשתי אותם. אבל רכשתי השכלה כי אני גרה בישראל כבר שלוש שנים והכל מתברר! קפצתי מהמטה שלי, רצתי מחוץ לגדר ושאלתי כמה זה עלה לכסח את הדשא. הוא ענה 350 שקל! באמת? אתה משוגע? באותו הזמן שכנה שלי עמדה מאחורה, נפנפה במרץ ולחשה "יש לי מכסחה, אל תשלמי!!" מאוחר יותר למדתי שהיא נולדה בטורקיה!! איזה צחוק הגורל!! התחברנו מיד! לוויתי את המכסחה. עכשיו ציפיתי מהמכסחה לתת מענה לכל הבעיות שלי.  הייתי 
שחצנית וחשבתי אני כובשת את הדשא הזה!!! אבל היה קרע בין המחשבות ובין האקטואליה. המכסחה מחוברת לקיר!  אין דרך שלמכונה יהיה מספיק כוח כדי לחתוך את הדשא. צדקתי. כל שתי שורות המכסחה סבלה ומתה. חיכיתי עשרים דקות וניסיתי עוד פעם ועוד פעם.... חשבתי שהיא תתפוצץ! במשך ארבע שעות הזעתי יותר ממה שאני יכולה לזכור. זאת הייתה עבודה קשה. לעתים הייתי צריכה להרים את המכסחה ולהוריד אותה על כל ריבוע של דשא. הפסיקתי חצי דרך.

המכסחה הצעצוע!

 המשכתי עוד פעם בערב. ידעתי שאני לא אגמור לפני שקיעה. הייתי כמעת בסוף כששותף שלי יצא מהבית. לפני שהוא פתח את הפה שלו, חשבתי: אם הוא מנסה להורות לי, אני אצעק!  ואז, התחיל להורות לי...טעות גדולה!!!! הוא לא נשוי אז הבנתי שהוא לא יודע שלא חכם להורות לנשים שעבדו כל היום בשמש בלי עזרה. הייתי נחמדה.  הפסיקתי לעבוד, עמדתי ואמרתי "תחזור הביתה."  
המשכתי עוד פעם בבוקר . גם חתכתי קצוות עם ידיים שלי עם מספריים. אבל בסוף כבשתי את הדשא!  
 נהניתי תה ועשיתי שיעורי בית עם דשא שלי. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My first story in Hebrew

היום משו מצחיק קרה.  באוטובוס בבוקר קארה ואני פגשנו את האיש מהשמים. מיד אהבתי אותו כשראיתי קוים בידו מתפילין. כשגמרתי קפה שלי, הוא לקח את הכוס ושם באשפה בשבילי!!! איזה גבר! אין לו סיבה, רק בגלל שהוא נחמד.

מאוחר יותר, אחרי שסיימנו את הטיול בשוק מחנה יהודה, עמדנו על יד השוק העראקי. יש שם הרבה גברים שמשחקים שש בש. וראיתי מישהו שישב בפנים שנופף לי. מיד זכרתי אותו מהאוטובוס! שאלתי אותו אם הוא בא לפה כל יום והוא ענה, כל השנה!!! שאלתי אם הוא משחק שש בש וענה, בטח! ואנחנו התחלנו לשחק שש בש ביחד כל הגברים מתוקים! היה לי כיף! הוא הזמין לנו תה. קארה ואני היינו נשים היחידות פתאום הבנתי שהיה גברים עומדים מסביבנו. ללא ספק, הייתי מעניינת. היו להם הרבה עצות.

בסוף ניצחתי. אני רוצה לחזור ולשחק עוד פעם! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shabbat shalom!

The challahs are ready and hot pitas are coming out of the oven! All of Jerusalem is getting ready for Shabbat!!! שבת שלום מירושלים!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Summary

This is very rare that I have such a long absence from blogging, but thus is life, and it happens. Since my classes ended at Pardes, I was working for NFTY. It's reform Judaism's summer trip to Israel. This was my third summer working for NFTY and my third time on the exact same trip. We spent a week in Europe in Prague, Krakow, and Warsaw. Then we fly to Israel for a four week world wind.  At the end, I flew home with the kids and now I'm in Indiana for a week to see my family before I fly back to Israel to start Ulpan (Hebrew language classes) on August 5th.

A couple of things I learned: I'm not so reform. Or I'm reform in my own way, but I love Judaism a lot!  I don't love having the guitar at every Shabbat service. And I don't like using my phone on Shabbat and I don't like driving with the kids before Shabbat is over. And I like to do Havdalah when someone is suppose to do Havdalah, not before or after, or even the next day.  I don't personally do all these things all the time in my every day, or every Shabbat, life. But I feel like that if these things are going to be done, then they should be done at the proper time in the "correct" (open to interpretation) way. Also, some of the interpretations of the Parsha were a little too liberal for my tastes. At the end of the summer, a girl in my group wrote me a note that said, "You made me think about my Judaism because I never met a reform Jew how took their Judaism as seriously as you do." I think it's really important for people who love being Jewish and love practicing Judaism are present in the reform community or the knowledge in the youth will only reach a certain point. Reform Jews should also know everything about Judaism, and then make a choice to be reform, not to be reform because they don't know more than that.

I was waiting in the airport in New York and I needed to make a phone call, and since I'm Israeli and live in Israel, I don't have an American phone. I didn't really see anyone I felt comfortable asking.  So I was just sitting and waiting.  Then, a Jewish Orthodox family came and their three boys were going on the same plane as me to Chicago.  They sat down to wait for the flight. I immediately knew I could ask them to use their phone. Something about the wife's head covering, the husbands kippa, and the boys tzitzit was very comforting and familiar to me.  They quickly lent me their phone, even before I explained that I lived in Israel. I was surprised to feel more connected to Orthodox Jews in America than to any other American sitting next to me in the waiting area. But I have to say, it was nice and made sense to me.

Finally, tonight is Shabbat, and I was really sad to be in my house because we don't have Shabbat in my home, or we never have in the past. But tonight, I forced it. I didn't care, I really wanted it. So I put out grape juice, two pieces of bread. And with my parents, I lead the prayers in front of my parents, for the first time in my life. And then washed my hands, and then did the prayer of the "challah". First, it was SO nice, and all anger, anxiety, and things that weren't nice from the day suddenly ceased. And secondly, I was SO proud of myself. The prayers weren't perfect, I definitely stumbled a couple of times, but I did it. =) And at least now I know that Shabbat is possible in my house. And I can look forward to having Shabbat instead of looking for some other place to go.

Shabbat shalom. =)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Route of the Patriarchs, דרך האבות

Yesterday after noon, Pardes took a mini-tiyul/trip, to Gush Etzion.  It is a group of settlements that fell into Jordanian hands on May 13, 1948, the day before Israel declared independence. The dates that they were re-established are listed below. (Wikipedia -

(EOY 2008)[28]
Alon Shvut19703,400Communal settlement
Bat Ayin1989900Communal settlement
Beitar Illit198538,800Independent municipality
Efrat19838,300Independent municipality
Elazar19751,706Communal settlement
Karmei Tzur1984700Communal settlement
Kedar1984960Communal settlement
Kfar Eldad1994120Communal settlement
Kfar Etzion1967820Kibbutz
Gva'ot198475Communal settlement
Har Gilo1968570Communal settlement
Ibei HaNahal199950Outpost
Ma'ale Amos1982270Communal settlement
Ma'ale Rehav'am200140Outpost
Metzad1984380Communal settlement
Migdal Oz1977440Kibbutz
Neve Daniel19821,883Communal settlement
Nokdim19821300Communal settlement
Pnei Kedem2000100Outpost
Rosh Tzurim1969560Kibbutz
Sde Boaz200290Outpost
Tekoa, Gush Etzion19751600Communal settlement
We got dropped off in Beit Daniel and walked on the Route of the Patriarchs which ended at a lone, 600 year old tree. The tree was one of the only survivors of the war, along with just four people.  The road was the way road that the patriarchs travels from Jerusalem to Hebron, to Beer Sheva, (and technically all the way to Egypt.)  On the way we saw Roman ruins, and other signs of our ancestors living the area, like this mikvah (ritual bath). 

Me coming out of the mikvah! All clean and pure!! ;-) 

After our fun hike/stroll, we got to eat dinner at our teachers' houses in the area. I got to eat at Michael Hattin's house. He is my Tanakh teacher and my academic advisor for PEP. I had Shabbat at their home before, so I knew their family. It was such a wonderful opportunity to return with my classmates (about 10 of us) and have a discussion about how Michael and his wife ended up in Israel and how Michael made his way to Pardes! (Such a great story and such luck for the Pardes students!) As before, Michael's home was warm and welcoming and overflowing with Torah! I can't wait to go back for another visit! Thanks Michael and Rivka for hosting us!