An Island in Time – Leah Citrin

Shabbat is an island in time. It is a chance to pause, reflect, and differentiate between the holy and the mundane. And although it exists in every city, in every country, every week, something special happens on Shabbat in Israel.

Friday afternoons in Jerusalem are an experience in and of themselves: the hustle and bustle of a city preparing to shut down for 24 hours. The rush of people at the shuk, the cooking and cleaning, the dinner planning, the frantic pace right up until the sounding of the siren, signaling that Shabbat has begun.

And then the peace and quiet sets in. There is time.

Time for relaxing, conversation, and casual strolls. Time to listen. The sounds of singing emanate from the shuls. The sounds of children laughing can be heard in the parks.

Shabbat is an island in time. Ahad Ha’Am once said, “More than the Jewish people has kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish people.” Nowhere have I experienced this sentiment more than in Israel.

Yet I no longer live in Israel. Leading services or Torah study, I often work on Shabbat. A conscious effort is required to separate Shabbat from the rest of the week. It doesn’t come as naturally right now.

So too does my relationship to Israel require this effort. It has been two years since I have visited. I no longer open Israeli news sites regularly. I have far fewer conversations in Hebrew. Yet I know that a return visit is all it will take to reignite the passion, the emotion, the connection. A taste of Shabbat, a foot on Israeli soil, is all that is required to remember how precious it is.

Leah Citrin, originally from Rye Brook, New York, is a rising 5th year student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati. After serving pulpits in New Iberia, Louisiana, and Kokomo, Indiana, Leah will begin her second year as the rabbinic intern at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati in the fall. An avid Yankees and Reds fan, Leah also enjoys playing tennis, softball, and running half-marathons. Additionally, Leah is excited to begin her iCenter fellowship in a few weeks!

Zeitchem l’shalom – Jeremy Gimbel

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This sign, which sits at the exit of Jerusalem sums up Israel for me. The story of Israel that every American kid should learn is the story of being cognizant of time and space. Israel is a complex place, but what has stuck with me is that it is a place that recognizes, and celebrates, Jewish time and space. When you enter Jerusalem, there’s a welcome sign. As you leave, there’s this sign: tzeitchem l’shalom. Not, “L’hitraot – see you soon,” but “go to peace.” The language also comes from the Shabbat song, Shalom Aleichem, which is addressing the ministering angels of peace. In a nutshell, the sign is telling us that we have a higher purpose; not just to go towards our destination, but to go towards peace AS ministering angels of peace.

I am also continually on that journey, moving from the slavery of egotism and self-centeredness to working as a messenger of peace and goodness. Israel helps remind me that this journey continues, no matter where you reside – even in the holiest cities – we must be constantly reminded of this most sacred duty.
Jeremy Gimbel is an avid enthusiast. He is also part of the incoming iCenter cohort.