At 12:30 we listened to a quick, but fascinating lecture from our tour guide, Oren. The lecture encompassed every major occurrence from the arrival of Abraham to the modern day to give us better context for our discussion of the current political climate of Israel.
Following our lecture and discussion, the tour guide for our brother group guided us through the Kibbutz on which we were, technically, located. In the main campus, she introduced us to the concept of a Kibbutz, a community where all work together and are paid equally to achieve the production of a single product such as bulletproof glass or an amalgamation of different productions that allow the Kibbutz to survive. Once we had learned about the social basis of a Kibbutz, we got together in groups to discuss the social ramifications of Kibbutzim and the pros and cons of living in such a society which was then followed by a lively discussion between the two groups.
After the discussion, we got to see one of the main products of our Kibbutz, the raising of cattle for dairy. The cows were pretty darn cute, despite the stench. Some of the younger ones seemed to have just been born.
We took yet another break before saying our Havdallah prayers and heading out for the night. We stopped for dinner, which for myself entailed yet another round of Shwarma and Kebab. Given the choice I'd probably eat it every single night. You can't go wrong with perfectly cooked meat, tahini sauce, choice vegetables and the occasional french fry in a warm pita.
Dinner led us to the mountain top city of Zefat, the ancient, stonewalled home of the Jewish practice of Kabbahlah. Walking around its aged streets of dingy beige stone, one can't help but feel the mysticism oozing out of the walls all around you. It's a beautiful sight, site, Zeit, really, all of the above. In a renaissance era synagogue, Jake explains to us the confounding origins of Kabbalah and how the secrets of the universe are so intensely guarded.
On a lighter note, we conclude our activities of the day in Ascent, your place for the Zefat experience, or so I'm told by the sign as I enter the building. After a few flights of stairs, we are greeted by an old Rabbi playing an electric guitar—the most bizarre sight I've witnessed in my short time in Israel so far—who encourages us to sing along to the Hebrew songs he sings. I'm not certain about the rest of my fellow birthright travelers, but I did not understand a single word he said. Following our short sing-a-long introduction, we were greeted by the jolliest, santaesque Rabbi I have ever seen in my life. He convinces us to start dancing and enjoy the doughnuts that they've cooked up for us. An interesting experience if for no other reason than to witness some of the silliest dancing I've had the pleasure to witness. Tomorrow we meet our soldiers and will be heading to Golan Heights, but for now, I'm going to try and sleep.
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,000 Jewish students on Grounds.