I don’t know how to put into a few words the experience of ten days, four millennia, learning and laughter, adventures planned not-planned, forty incredible travelers. So I will write about two moments. Havdalah on the rocks (it’s not a new drink – but maybe it should be!) and Havdalah in the wind. The first Havdalah we were in Tel Aviv. We had arrived the day before, but it already felt like a lifetime. I had thought we would gather for Havdalah in a circle, as we always do – this time in view of the Mediterranean. But the rocks beckoned. I invited everyone to find a safe place on the huge boulders that edged the sea – and to sit down. We began Havdalah in silence. We listened to the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks. And watched as the lights of the Jaffa port began to come up – twinkling in the darkness. And the moon, near the beginning of its cycle, a waxing crescent above us. The evening was warm (how delicious) – and we sang. Two Muslim women sat on rocks nearby; passersby stopped to listen and join. The moment – magical and eternal.
We adventured day and night for the next week – from north to south, from Israel to Petra and back again. And now we were in Jerusalem for the second Havdalah. Different stones were beneath our feet this time, the smooth stunning limestone of Jerusalem. The spices: freshly picked rosemary, blooming in purple perfusion everywhere. The touch: our arms around one another. The flame of the Havdalah candle burning fiercely in the Jerusalem winds. And before us – the spectacular view of Jerusalem’s ancient walls, Mt. Zion, the valley of Hinnom below us and the Judean hills in the distance. And the moon? Reaching its fullness – as did we.