by Debby Teicher, mother of Ilana Teicher, current Shana BaAretz student
"Mei-ein olam habah." That's what my husband said to me Shabbat afternoon during Seudah Shelishit at the Midrasha. After spending a half day learning and another half day touring with other parents and our children, Friday night dinner in Nachlaot with the Weisberg family, and returning to the Midrasha for Shabbat afternoon, my husband turned to me and said that he felt like he got a little taste of Gan Eden. For him, the convoluted trading of on-call schedules with his partners, the cost of the trip, and all the headaches that come with international travel, were totally worth it. Me, I just wanted to hang out with my daughter.
Several months ago, when we were told of the possibility of a "Parents Shabbaton" at Midreshet Nishmat, we asked our friends if they were going. We had already planned a trip for November and were not thinking of another so soon. But everyone said "Of course we are," so we called our travel agent and booked our flights. Little did we know that only 2 other couples would be at the Midrasha for the first day of the Shabbaton. And honestly, it was just perfect. We were able to have wonderful, intimate shiurim with Rav Sperling, Rabbanit Henkin and Rabbanit Rosen that would not have been the same with a large group. Our daughter tells us that classes for her are similar…small groups where each girl gets individual attention that really enhances her experience and learning.
The next day, joined by a few more parents and their daughters, Rav Yehoshua led us on a tour of Mitzpeh/Nebi Samuel. After more than 20 trips to Israel, I couldn't believe there was an archaeological site that I had not yet visited…and so close to Yerushalayim! After a bit of a false start…I was able to show off my climbing skills…we found our way around the waterlogged areas of the site and got an amazing tour of the possible burial site of Shmuel HaNavi. It is also the site of many famous events in Tanach and Sefer HaMaccabim, as well as a strategic site during World War I and the Six Day War. It was a true microcosm of Eretz Yisrael…so much history in one little place!
Erev Shabbat, we lit candles (even earlier than Yerushalayim time) and walked from our hotel to the lovely Weisberg home in Nachlaot. Rav Weisberg' daughter, Hallel, walked us to the Kol Rina shul for Kabbalat Shabbat. I think we were the oldest people there…and certainly one of the only married couples! Davening was Carlebach style, with singing and dancing on both sides of the mechitza. We got a tad lost on the way back to the Weisbergs, but arrived unscathed and ready for the wonderful Shabbat meal they prepared. The zmirot sung at the table and the cameraderie of all the diners made for an absolutely beautiful Shabbat meal. We floated back to our hotel with the songs and laughter of the evening still strong in our minds.
The next day we walked to the Midrasha for Seudah Shelishit. After a delicious meal and divrei torah by Rabbanit Henkin and Rabbi Dr Tzvi Blanchard (Elana's dad), we sang a few zmirot and went to the bet hamedrash for Ma'ariv. Havdalah and Kiddush Halevana (a first for us in Israel) followed, and then we said our goodbyes to our new friends and "family," and walked back to our hotel…returning to our normal lives with heavy hearts. Yes, we liv