This was an amazing evening led by Michael. We broke up into groups to discuss pressing life issues in Hebrew, ate hot dogs, drank beer, and met many new friends. Over 50 people attended and they asked for more such evenings, which bring people together and help improve our Hebrew through meaningful conversations!
Not so long ago I started participating in events organized by Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, and after the persistent recommendation of my friends, I decided to experience what a two-day "Shishi-shabbat" seminar would be like. After battling rain and wind our bus reached Haifa and was met by a friendly sun! We admired the beauty of the Bahai Gardens from above and listened to the history of Haifa from our guide Dima, from the famous Biblical story of the prophet Eliyahu on Mt Carmel through modern day. We headed to the Beit Shearim National Park, also called the city of the dead, because nestled among the beautiful hills and nature are caves full of centuries-old tombs with sarcophagi, dating back to the time of the Sanhedrin and Yehuda HaNasi. Touching the stone crypts engraved with fantastic beasts and imbued with the spirit of antiquity, I also enjoyed the fresh air and contemplating the first flowers in bloom adorning green meadows after the rains.
Our activities in the youth hostel in Haifa over the next one and a half days brought me back to my days of student camps in Ukraine. This long-forgotten feeling of being in a separate world without evil and without problems, where you can devote time to developing yourself and now also meeting incredible people.
I was impressed with all the lectures, particularly about the topic of time in our lives, (huge respect to the man who conducted it) and meeting with Prisoner of Zion Abba Taratuta.
It is impossible not to note the very warm attitude of the organizers and staff, as well as the atmosphere of comraderie which made even newcomers like myself feel so welcome. Everyone was happy, calm and cheerful and I found it very useful for me to learn the opinions of different people on issues of concern to me.
I left the seminar with new motivation to start working, to study, and to create.
The proximity of the raging sea, eye-pleasing view of the mountains and clear weather, in turn, also contributed to an excellent rest.
RESTART - that's how I would summarize my week-end in Haifa with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli - a reboot to the next stage of life, which will undoubtedly be more beautiful, productive and happier than the previous one. And it does not matter that it started not on January 1, but on January 22!
November 16, 2017 - Jerusalem
A packed hall of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli participants and older viewers from the "refusenik" generation watched the documentary film "Operation Wedding" about the attempt to hijack a plane from Leningrad to freedom in 1970, which resulted in the arrest and sentencing of 16 refuseniks on account of "high treason" , including Sylva Zalmanson and Edward Kuznetsov, the parents of the film's director. The movie was riveting, and included Sylva's return to the solitary confinement cell where she was held. The historian Dr. Michael Beizer followed up with a lecture on the refusenik movement, the organized Soviet Jewry movements in the West who brought pressure on the Soviet government, and the historical ramifications of the hijacking attempt.
Haifa - September 24, 2017
This month we continued with our ArtZehut project in Haifa, whereby new olim artists teach artistic techniques and Jewish identity to our young members together with mentally disabled adults in the community. Our teacher this time, and new olah from the Masa program, provided new techniques and interesting drawing methods, and we made really beautiful cards for Sukkot! It was nice to see all the young people helping the adults. The atmosphere was wonderful!
July 2017, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
July 4th, 2017 - Jerusalem International Lights Festival and Tour with Victor Shamis
We began our walk at the foot of the Montefiore Windmill around 6pm – to have some time with natural light to see the neighborhood before entering the Old City. Our guide Victor told us about the history of the Windmill and Yemin Moshe. From there we went down to Sultan’s Pool and the Hinnom Valley, and to Jaffa Gate where we learned about both Temples, why the stones in the walls are different, and then climbed to the roof for a beautiful view of the OId and New Cities and discussed their significance from the point of view of three religions, within the framework of the history of modern Israel. We returned to the Jaffa gate and divided into small groups to explore the different lit up paths of the Lights Festival, this year celebrating 50 years of a reunited Jerusalem!
Thanks for the amazing our around the Old City – it was both informative and atmospheric
July 19th, Tel-Aviv Lecture on Habima Theatre
We met with Elena Tartakovsky, the well-known historian and the author of the book "Habima: from Moscow-based Studio to the National Theatre of Israel" in a small studio in Jaffa.
Elena told us the incredible story of the beginnings of the Habima theatre studio in Moscow, about the famous actors in the troupe and its international fame, its tour to New York, and continuation in Israel.
I was surprised by the fact that the Habima Theatre that I know started with Stanislavsky and his students many years ago in Moscow. During the lecture I tried to feel and imagine all the heroes of the story and to understand their difficult decisions
This story affected me so strongly that I bought a book in Hebrew about the Habima and started reading it right after the lecture, that night. Hopefully we will go to the Habima Theatre with the Argaman Project next year
June 21, 2017, Tel Aviv
Our games master Pavel brought 24 different board games and divided the participants into teams. People switched teams and games every hour to get to know one another and learn new games. Everyone loved this evening of intellectual fun, friendly competition and relaxation.
Haifa June 23, 2017
Our intrepid guide Sasha took us on cave hunting in the Carmel Mountains, sharing stories from Tanach about Elisha and Elijah the Prophet up to the Battle of Megiddo. We drank tea, ate watermelon and cookies, fought with swords, got to know one another, and stayed cool while seeing the most picturesque views. In appreciation for his guiding for over a year now, the participants bought Sasha a beautiful book on hikes in Israel!
June 15, 2017, Tel Aviv
Buying an apartment is one of the biggest challenges facing new immigrants in Israel, also because of the language and legal issues.
A real estate lawyer presented the most important guidelines when looking to buy an apartment to a large group of our participants in Maze 9, in collaboration with the Tel Aviv municipality.
He explained the responsibilities of the lawyer versus the real estate agent, gave very practical advice, and answered many questions throughout the evening.
June 2,2017, Tel Aviv
This was a great opportunity to visit one of the biggest museums in Israel – Musa, the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. Our guide told us about the history of this museum and took us through some interesting exhibitions – archeological finds from the Tel Aviv area, the development of paper, glass, and sculpting in Israel, the history of the Israeli Mail system, the history of interior design and even of tatoos in Israel! Thank you for arranging this tour!
July 6, 2017 Haifa
This is the second time that I participated in psychology classes with Leah, who is very professional and brings a lot of life experience and wisdom to her discussions! She share perspectives on good relationships, also some from a Jewish perspective and gave us excellent psychological games to help us communicate and understand each other better.
Thank you to Lidia and Natasha and to Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli.
June 25, Haifa
We have partnered up with a facility for mentally disabled adults in Haifa. Our volunteers joined together with them for a very enjoyable evening of painting nature of Israel, led by our art teacher Natasha. The mentally disable clients and our participants had an excellent time communicating and helping one another, and we hope to continue this important project in the future.
March 31, 2107 - Tel Aviv
On March 31st we joined the Fresh Paint Art Fair – one of the most important annual events of the Israeli art scene.
The Guide: Alexandra Levina (whom we met before at the Ilana Goor Museum)
Our guide, Alexandra Levina, took our group of 25 on a two hour tour of 10 halls and galleries with stories about the creative path of numerous Isreali artists and photographers. During the Tour we met and talked with a young Ethiopian artist who won a national prize this year and sold several paintings to Israel Museum in Jerusalem. She spoke about her about her art and answered our many questions.
We also had a text-based discussion on a scene from “The Dibbuk: (translated into Russian), after seeing the black dress from the play created by an artist at the Fair. Our guide Sasha Levina, discussed with the participants the meaning and importance of this play in Jewish culture and the artist’s intent.
"Thank you for this meeting. Sasha is a great guide – she brought the arts so much closer to me"
"The connection with the well-known play Dibbuk was very interesting. It helped me understand the meaning of photographs that I had seen before"
March 6, 2017 - Jaffa
Around 40 participants of the Argaman Project toured the Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa and then met with the artist Vered Aronovich. Many participants said they had passed by this building many times but never imagined what was inside.
Our guide Alexandra took us through all the main rooms & spaces of the museum, told us about Ilana Goor and her family story, her strong Jewish roots and connection to Jewish communities all over the world. We came into the kitchen with dozens of huge bronze pots and utensils, and ceiling made of bottles, drank tea, coffee and ate cookies and felt at home.
On the rooftop we met Vered Aronovich next to her huge sculpture called "The Fountain". Vered is a graduate of Bezalel, a young and successful israeli artist who has exhibited around the world and is co-founder of the Khanina artists's gallery in Tel-Aviv -a vivid example of postmodernism. She spoke about her inspiration for creating art, and answered many questions.
Huge thanks to Alexandra for a fascinating tour and for translating Vered, which opened up a whole world to me. Good guides make all the difference.
I visited this Museum before but never saw half of what I've seen now. The story of Ilana Goor's family and their strong Jewish identity really moved me.
Tel Aviv Architecture with Yoav Messer, November 17, 2016 - Tel Aviv
Before we met famous architect Yoav Messer at the Tel Aviv Opera House, his friend and famous cultural expert Uri Artman, the head of the Opera, told us about the place, the building and took our group to a tour around the Opera, including visiting of the stage and surrounding areas, rooms for rehearsals etc.
Than we all came to a hall with a screen where Yoav Messer showed & described all of his best projects (like Peres Centre for Peace and The Norman Hotel) – from idea to final realization. He connected architecture with the Arts and his love for Tel-Aviv, explained why the city's "face" changes with new technologies, fashion etc. and how the image of the city has evolved.
As everyone agreed during our long discussion after the lecture, it was a very interesting and informative meeting.
It was interesting to get acquainted with the modern Israeli architecture and, especially, the process of its creation. I'm a designer, so I'm always interested in what people are inspired for their projects.
It was fascinating to hear about Yoav’s views and projects from the inside. It opened a whole new world for me about modern israeli architecture.
September 23-24, 2016 - Mitzpeh Ramon
This was not my first seminar with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli but my favorite so far. During the feedback after Havdala, I realized I was not alone. Dr. Reuven Kipperwasser was one of the best lecturers I have ever heard. We learned with him stories from the Talmud about treating the other and improving ourselves, in the spirit of this time before Rosh Hashana.
Our Friday hike and visit to the Salad Trail was also great. Now I know that some of the hottest peppers in the world are grown in the Negev! (and what to eat to cool your mouth from a hot pepper – water doesn’t help.) And I really enjoyed our friends’ sessions, about sports injuries and nutrition, about Shabbat, about the history of Hassidism. This was all in one Shabbat with some of my favorite people.
Thank you to the organizers!
We joyfully celebrated another marriage in July – this time, of two members who met on a Shishi Shabbat tiyul last Spring.
Leonid, originally from Odessa, is a computer programmer, and Olga, recently from Moscow, is a doctor in Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
We wish them many years of happiness and good news to share with all of us!
March 30, 2016, Jabotinsky Institute, Tel Aviv
I have heard a little about the difficult lives and heroism of Jewish Refuseniks, but tonight opened up a whole world which I realize now that I should know more about. The Australians were the first to make the struggle of the refuseniks a public issue, and even encouraged Israel to act more strongly. We met the Australian journalist Sam Lipski (who also helps Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli!) who read from his book and talked about the activism of Jews in Australia, which I never knew about. And then we heard from an Israeli official, Yossi Ahimeir, who was personally involved in Israeli government efforts to help Soviet Jews at that time. Afterwards, one of the first Jewish women to ask to emigrate, Tina Brodetsky, spoke about her difficult life, beginning with World War II, her time in Soviet prison, her love of poetry, her aliya in the end. She was an important historical character to meet! Dr. Beizer, an historian, answered our general questions about Soviet Jews and the end of Communism. I want to thank Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli for organizing this evening and bringing us to the Jabotinsky Museum, which I never would have visited on my own. Mostly I am thankful to the people who spoke, who created the possibility for me and all Jews to leave the FSU and live in Israel in freedom!
January 29-30, 2016 - Kfar Etzion
I had heard from my friends about Shishi Shabbat seminars and this time I finally went!
Everything was great – the beautiful weather and hike on Friday with our guide Dima (anemones and purple lupines everywhere), our visit to Aviezer where Jews from Cochin India settled, and meeting Prof Zeev Chanin and Dr. Velvl Chernin there. Over Shabbat, Velvl taught us a lot of new things about Jewish communities around the world – Jewish life in Europe and the USSR, Ethiopian Jews, and the amazing stories of the “lost tribes” of Israel coming home in recent years. He sang songs in Yiddish and was surprising and very knowledgable. Sara Beck from Kfar Etzion told us about her adventures visiting Spanish Jewish communities on the Amazon River which began after the expulsion from Spain in the 15th century. A famous rabbi, Yaakov Madan, spoke to us after Shabbat about the ingathering of Jews and the fulfillment of prophecies from the Tanach.
The atmosphere of this Shabbat was really special and I hope to see these good people again soon. Thank you!
December 14, 2015, Jerusalem
In a recent meeting with Minister of Absorption Zeev Elkin and his staff, organized by the Council of Immigrant Organizations of which we are a member, I spoke about the critical need for cultural and social absorption, beyond the “physical” absorption (language, housing and employment assistance), provided by the government to new immigrants. The sense of being part of a high-quality community, with inspiring programs and an expanding network of friends - that is what makes young olim feel at home, reminding them why they moved to Israel, and why they should build their futures here.
Minister Elkin responded that the government does not invest enough in the cultural and social absorption of new immigrants and that such activity should become more of a priority.
November 11 & 25, 2015, Beit Avichai Jerusalem
This month we held our 3rd and 4th meetings of a six-part Argaman series on the topic of Jewish and Israeli literature. Our third meeting was devoted entirely to the figure and the works of Shmuel Yosef Agnon. Prof. Rafi Tsirkin surveyed Agnon's biography –from his childhood in Butchach Galicia through his life in Jerusalem. We read excerpts of his short stories and discussed the many Biblical and Talmudic allusions in his works. We also touched upon the inner conflicts he addresses - traditional Judaism versus the secular values of the Zionist movement of his day, the periods of his life where he drifted away and back from Jewish observance. We listened to a rare radio archive where Agnon is told by the Israel Radio broadcaster that he has won the Nobel Prize (which he humbly denied as he had not been told previously) and we watched a video made by actor Sasha Demidov about Agnon’s spiritual journey and his relationship to Jerusalem. Agnon’s character and works sparked lively discussion among the participants, also after that evening in our Argaman Facebook group.
Our fourth meeting of the series was devoted to Jewish and Israeli poetry and its place in the history of the Jewish people. We read the poetry of Yehuda Amicha and others, particularly related to the motif of Jerusalem – on the one hand it’s holiness, on the other hand as a symbol of the suffering of our nation, We were left with many questions and a desire to learn more. In the second part of the evening we tried our hand at translation – this time from a more contemporary “poet” – Arik Einstein. Participants chose to translate the unique style and language of one of Arik Einstein's songs into Russian – a challenging exercise which caused everyone to express their talent with words and caused a lot of laughter.
October 22, Tel Aviv
Thank you for last night’s intriguing and humorous meeting with Alex Maimon about the city Tel Aviv! There was so much we did not know about the city’s creation and development, the history of its coat of arms, Tel Aviv during wartime, and the buildings which have made Tel Aviv famous. At the end we discussed whether Tel Aviv can be considered Israel’s first successful incubator and start-up. I recently moved to Tel Aviv from Belarus and think it is great that we have a place to be able to meet new friends and learn interesting and relevant things together!
The IDF in Israeli Culture – August 6, 2015 – Beit Avichai, Jerusalem
Our lecturer Ilya discussed the impact of the the IDF on Israeli culture and the development of Israel – from complete identification and pride to parodies of IDF life in Israeli film, theater and literature. He spoke about the army as a microcosm of Israeli society and screened several classic army film clips. We then watched the fairly new movie “Zero Motivation” – a comedy which parodies the bureaucracy of the IDF but also its role in shaping the communal and personal identity of young Israelis.
Jewish Music and Carlebach Reggae Concert – August 13, 2015, Beit Avichai, Jerusalem
Having known Gershon Leyzerson as part of the musical group “Oy Division” which I'm very fond of, I was absolutely stunned by his solo performance, which proved him as a real one-man band. He involved the participants in his deeply insightful and witty journey into the multifaceted world of Ashkenazi Jewish music.
The Carlebach in Reggae performance by Michael Greilsammer and Co was a success that brought the spirit of Rabbi Carlebach's approach to Judaism and to people in general. The reggae style was emblematic of the “hippie movement” which united people from diverse backgrounds through music. I was able to experience, together with my peers from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and some two hundred other audience members, the wonder of bringing hearts together and creating connections through collective musical experience and sharing personal stories.
Shabbat “Chaverim” – August 14-15, 2015
This was my first immersion in traditional Jewish culture over a full Shabbat and exposure to Jewish sources on very contemporary topics. Beyond the challah baking, “Carlebach”-style Kabbalat Shabbat, and great conversations, we had two excellent lecturers – Rabbi Dror Brama, from the Tzohar organization, spoke to us about the financial implications of the Sabbatical year. He discussed the modern financial culture which allows people to live beyond their true means (futures, loans, etc) , the focus on loans for consumption vs. production, the essence of tzedaka and other fascinating topics. A local linguist (computer programmer) Menachem spoke to us about the development of ancient and modern semitic languages and the evolution of Hebrew and its impact on Aramaic, Yiddish, Ladino and western languages. He gave many examples and spoke to us for 2 hours which was still not enough!
Night Slichot and Kapparot Tour - September 20, 2015, Jerusalem
There is nothing like the energy of Jerusalem at night during the holidays. Two days before Yom Kippur, Alex Maimon took us on an excellent night tour, beginning with “kapparot” in Machane Yehuda (I’m glad people also use tzedaka instead of chickens for this), the magical alleyways of Nachlaot (Rabbi Aryeh Levin and Jewish communities from all over who settled here in the 19th and 20th centuries), the beautiful Italian synagogue on Hillel Street, and finally, the Old City. We arrived at the Kotel along with thousands of other Jews from all parts of Israeli society and heard the Slichot prayers. A powerful and uplifting experience before Yom Kippur!
Pre-Sukkot Film Evening - September 24, 2015, Tel Aviv
We opened our Argaman Film Club in Tel Aviv with the exceptional movie “Ushpizin.” The film's protagonist is Moishe Belang, an ex-convict and his wife Malka who recently became religious and dream of a miracle to extract them from their poverty before the holiday of Sukkot. When two escaped prisoners, friends from Moshe’s past, show up for the holiday, a struggle begins between their old and new life.
After the film we had an intriguing conversation with Alexander Vilensky, a well-known film critic and writer and winner of many awards in the FSU and Israel. He shared background about the history of the film, including that of actor Shuli Rand and the Breslav community, and the place of “Ushpizin” in Israel’s modern film industry.
July 16 and 23, 2015
Dina began this meeting of Argaman with a discussion of Jewish humor, beginning with our sources through to modern day, and the 1960’s as a period that shaped Israeli society – internal conflicts between Sephardim and Ashkenazim and central figures like Efraim Kishon and Chaim Topol who brought these experiences to the screen. Then we all saw the film Salach Shabati. I have not laughed so much in a long time! Truly a masterpiece. It was interesting to see Israeli film classics from the 1960’s - the parodies of politicians and the establishment. The immigrant experience, Salach Shabati’s humor and chutzpah. Rafi Kishon, the director Ephraim Kishon’s son, spoke to the audience after this film. That added a lot. He told us about his father’s life and humor, how his father, a Holocaust survivor, and Chaim Topol, a talented Tzabar actor, remained close friends all their lives, and how Chaim Topol received the lead in Fiddler on the Roof because of his amazing performance in Salach Shabati. Thank you for a great evening!
This week’s Shabbat Torah reading also came out just before Tisha B’Av. It was interesting to hear why we read Parshat HaShavua – the custom of reading Torah Mondays, Thursdays and on Shabbat and gaining new insights into current affairs through the same portion of the Torah that we read every year! We then joined the “Kallabat Shabbat” of Beit Avichai with Jackie Levy, which was like Jewish stand-up but about the Tanach, including songs and skits – also about Israeli society today. Some were very funny, others I didn’t get – but I am glad I participated.
May 19, 2015 - Jerusalem
I have never made a cake in my life, but this Master Class changed all that! In a few minutes, Linda had us measuring, mixing and grating lemons, and the results were delicious. I took my cheesecake home but I'm glad other people didn't - nobody left hungry!! Afterwards we had an interesting discussion with Rabbi Luft about why people study Torah, why is it such a focus of Jewish life, and gave examples about Tzedaka and other topics that we deal with on a daily basis. This was a great evening - fun, tasty and thought-provoking. Thank you!
April 2, 2015 - Haifa
Before Passover, I attended a great matzah baking master class organized by Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. We not only baked and ate our own hand-made matzah, but learned new facts about Passover and made funny pictures of ourselves in apron and cook cap. This master class also reminded me that the most important thing in human life is freedom - both physical and internal. And that we are fortunate to be living here in Israel, where we have both.
Tuesday, March 4, 2015
I was lucky to attend the Purim party at Beit Galleria Haifa. The guys from Russian-speaking Beit Chabad read for us Megillat Esther, with an accompanying Powerpoint presentation in Russian that helped us understand the Hebrew text. It was so nice to see all of my friends in costumes, sitting and listening intently to the Megilla, and making noise at the mention of Haman. The atmosphere during the party afterwards was really great – everyone participated in games and competitions. I took home with me a lot of ideas for next year’s Purim costume! I also enjoyed visiting Beit Galleria for the first time. It is a showcase for young artists, and I am also an artist and was really happy to find out about this place.
January 2-3, 2015, Acco
This was my first Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli seminar. I had no idea what to expect or what people I would meet. I was happily surprised by the lectures, warm and friendly atmosphere and great people. The theme was "Contemporary Issues" and every discussion was relevant and important. On Friday we met a representative of the "Ahmid" Muslim community in Israel which was fascinating. They are a small minority but are tolerant and respectful of other faiths. We had a great hike on Mt. Carmel. One of the best sessions on Shabbat was with David about demography in Israel - I learned that we are one of the few countries in the world with a rising birth rate, because of "yuppie" Israeli families and olim families who are having more children! Self actualization! Another amazing discussion with Yehudit was about Conversion issues - that lasted 3 hours, very relevant. This was an excellent experience! I’m grateful to all the people who organized this seminar and hope to take part in future “Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli” seminars.
December 5-6, 2014 - Old Jaffa
This seminar was unusual. It took place in Jaffa, not far from home. At first I thought - what in Jaffa could surprise a resident of Gush Dan. It turned out that Israel’s Center is full of interesting places that I never knew about. Our journey began with Ariel Sharon Park, which was built recently on the former site of the country’s largest landfill. Now the huge area is covered with lawns, comfortable benches and trees. It's amazing how technology could transform the mountain of garbage in a beautiful park! After that, we visited מקוה ישראל. the oldest agricultural school in Israel, founded by Charles Netra in1870. We went down to the wine cellars, where the fighters of the Haganah trained, and visited the mechanics shops where the first Israeli weapons were created, including the famous mortar Davidka (by a new immigrant from Siberia!)
The theme of Shabbat was “Leadership.” There was Kabbalat Shabbat, in the cozy hotel in Jaffa, and after Shabbat dinner, a fascinating lecture by former Soviet Zionist Zeev Geizel, who struggled against the Soviet system for the right of Jews to their own language and culture. In addition he is a talented mathematician and active public figure in Israel. Daniel and Lena led Oneg Shabbat, about leaders in the Tanach. Shabbat morning we met Advocate Ariel Bulshtein, Director of Faces of Israel which engages in sophisticated “hasbara” about Israel abroad. He reminded us that only recently has been proactive in the information war, which affected the loyalty of many to the Jewish state. Drop by drop we are now bringing our version to people in other countries. Ariel was a very prepared and impressive lecture. In the afternoon we walked through Jaffa to the Sea, and then had a discussion about “Pirkei Avot” with Lena and Eli, both of whom only recently discovered this Jewish text and were enthusiastic about it. The seminar ended with a concert by Zeev Geizel of Russian folk songs that he translated into Hebrew. Sad songs about cold and war, but also humorous songs. A busy and stimulating seminar!!
Monday November 17, 2014
About 40 of our members enjoyed the moving opening to "Shavua Oleh" - a week honoring Jerusalem's new immigrant population – and the Thursday night music concert in the center of Jerusalem featuring olim bands. Mayor Nir Barkat spoke about the contribution of new immigrants to Jerusalem's prosperity (including the hi-tech company Mobile Eye, founded by an FSU oleh and selling successfully on the NY Stock Exchange). The opening evening featured well-known Israeli immigrant singers performing favorites from "Fiddler on the Roof", "Bustan Sfaradi" and songs dedicated to olim lone soldiers, including Ariel Horowitz's beautiful "Twenty-Thousand Brothers" written for Sean Carmel z"l from Texas, who fell during Operation Protective Edge.
Tel HaShomer and Hadassah Hospitals - Tuesday, July 22
We met outside Tel HaShomer hospital at 19:00 – everyone arriving with their packages of fruit, juice, chocolates, plants, socks, underwear ("the first store was completely out, so we went to another store!"). Inna, our Tel Aviv coordinator, divided the group into 6 departments of the hospital where 40 wounded soldiers were being treated. Our group's first visit was to a lone soldier, Moshe, from New Jersey – we played guitar and sang "Shir L'Maalot" and he wiped away some tears ("You have no idea how many miracles I've seen"). The hospital was full of visitors, youth groups, families. We visited soldiers and then children in the Oncology dept for about two hours – I think we all left with the same feelings – a little heartbroken, very uplifted, and mostly that we are one nation and strongly connected to people we had never met before.
Today we went to see our soldiers at Hadassa Hospital. To be honest, I did not know if we would be able to visit the soldiers, what condition they would be in – but after consulting with our friends who work in the hospital, we arrived with the soldiers' names and room numbers and it was simpler than I thought. We visited six soldiers – five of them in their 20's and one, a reservist, about 35. We said that we just came to thank them. The soldiers smiled sheepishly, asked who we are, where we live...and their relatives smiled and thanked us. But you know what particularly touched me? When we left the boys treats, they all said, "Don't give us this, G-d forbid! There are soldiers with more serious injuries, on other floors, go visit them. Take this and go to them!"
If you have at least half an hour of free time – go visit our soldiers and tell them "thank you, for protecting our lives at the cost of theirs .." .It is important that they are aware how much we appreciate them and their sacrifice.
Nes Amim, Friday-Shabbat, June 6-7
Firstly, I want to thank the organizers of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. It is a wonderful project that gives us so many new insights – and most importantly, connects us to excellent, interesting people our age. I am always excited to participate in seminars – they are the best possible way to spend my free time. Our last seminar in Nes Amim was fun, enlightening, amazing! The hike on Friday afternoon to Monfort Castle in the Galilee was hard but worthwhile. What breathtaking, green scenery we have in Israel! I also liked the icebreakers during the tiyul. Kabbalat Shabbat with Ira and Artyem was great – always interesting when group members teach during the seminars. Our topic on Shabbat was the “World of Texts” and I liked David’s lectures the best. Now I know, for instance, a little bit about how to study a page of Talmud. We live in Israel and we share the same faith; I think we should all know something about our traditions and the uniqueness of the Jewish People. Thanks for everything.
April 10-11, 2014, near Masada, Judean Desert
We included this overnight hike in our last update, but here is a beautiful photo essay on this experience – «Reenacting the Exodus» - by participant blogger (archeologist) Ira Novoselsky: www.boti.ru/node/96548 - If you press TRANSLATE in the upper right hand corner, you can also understand what she wrote!
Thurs., January 9th, Jaffa
«After 2 years of hearing about this extraordinary theater company, the moment has finally arrived: The curtain opens to the rhythmic clacking of kneading dough, by a long row of actors wearing white masks...
Removing their masks the actors reveal their faces and their souls, inviting the audience to immerse themselves in their unusual world - of darkness and silence, but also full of different sensations and pleasures which we ordinarily fail to notice. The smell of fresh bread, which is baked during the play on stage, perfectly complements this idea, creating a renewed appreciation for life.
This was a life-affirming performance, and a great social project - enabling expression for people with disabilities and challenging us, the audience, to "not live by bread alone." Thank you for this opportunity!»
03-04.10.13, 55 participants
Our 20th (!) Friday-Shabbat Seminar took us back to the desert to the breathtaking views of Mizpeh Ramon. Our hike was in Ein Yorkeam, an challenging path and large, beautiful spring in the area of the Large Crater in the Central Negev. Our trail was a virtual treasure drove of fossils, to the delight of our participant archeologists. We also briefly visited Ben Gurion's famous gravesite in Ben Gurion Park, with our guide Lyon describing and play-acting (as is his custom) the lives of Paula and David Ben-Gurion and many other subjects along the way. The theme of shabbat was "Renewal" - as it was the first seminar of the year, and coincided with Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan and Parshat Noach (beginning of Breishit and renewal of the world after the Flood). We held our icebreakers and Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the edge of the Ramon Crater, with a family of majestic ibex for company. Four of the sessions during Shabbat were run by participants, including a session on effective time management, a session on Rational Decision-Making, a session on the Tower of Babel (as overseen by Nimrod, with comparisons to the Communist regime of the FSU) and a new workshop, to be repeated at future seminars, called "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" where participants openly discuss pressing life issues and get to know one another even better.
8.10.13, 28 participants
Continuing the tradition of past years, we enjoyed an excellent performance of play by Mikro Theater (mostly Hebrew-speaking actors of FSU origin) the play "Money, Health, and World Peace" based on the novel by Etgar Karet, which follows the life of a young Israeli man, given 3 wishes by a talking goldfish...The performance integrates video interviews of Israelis of all ages and backgrounds who share their personal "3 wishes". The director of Mikro spoke with our group before the performance, explaining the choice of subject material and the artistic process of creating the play.
25-50 participants, Every Tuesday
Tuesday October 15 marked the opening session of this year's Jewish Brain Ring Club, an Israeli adaptation of a very popular intellectual competition from the FSU. Teams of participants compete to solve questions related to Jewish and general knowledge provided by facilitator Yan Provorotski, in collaboration with the Schecter Institute.
18.10.13, 40 participants, Friday
"What could be a better option for a Friday afternoon than hiking through nature with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli led by a very interesting guide who I always learn so much from - David Wainstein. This time David chose for us two breathtaking hiking trails in the Judean Mountains – Nahal Ktalav and Nahal Sorek.
Already on our way out of Jerusalem by Highway 60, we learned that it used to be one of the central ancient routes called the Emperor's Road which was actually paved before Hadrian’s visit to the Land of Israel. Getting on the trail we heard the legend about a "strawberry tree" named Ktalav which grows in the Judean Mountains, giving the area its name. We also learned about the first rail line from Jaffa to Jerusalem that passed by these locations and even about the funny clumsy words that Jews invented in Hebrew ("fire machines on the iron lines!") to announce the first arrival of the train to Jerusalem. This Friday blessed us with a good weather which made the hike so pleasant and enjoyable, coupled with great company and always perfect organization by Shishi Shabbat. Thanks for this day!"
25.10.13, 30 participants, Friday
We ran this sports event in collaboration with Jerusalem Village - a community of young Jerusalem olim from various countries as well as native Jerusalemites. Our participants enjoyed relaxing and playing volleyball on this cool Fall morning with similar-aged peers ages from many countries. Our madrich Mark Rachlin led icebreakers (including questions about their favorite place in Jerusalem and life mottos) and everyone shared a picnic lunch. We hope to do more joint activities with Jerusalem Village in the future.
27.10.13, 20 participants, Sunday (every Sunday evening)
Our new Jewish Theater Workshop, facilitated by actor/director/translator/educator Yefim Reninberg is designed to improve the presentation and expressive abilities of our participants, engage them in an ongoing creative process and in the end produce an original play on a Jewish/Israeli theme which the participates will write themselves. While theater is a very familiar medium for FSU olim, these meetings have been eye-opening and exciting for the participants, who have now formed their own acting troupe and are in the process of exploring texts in preparation for writing their own theater production, to be performed in early June.
14-15.11.13, 45 participants, Friday - Shabbat
Over 45 Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli participants volunteered and took part in this two-day festival of Jewish art and learning, featuring workshops, exhibits, performances, tours, and lectures in Russian and Hebrew. This year's festival was a great success; Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli was listed as a Partner in the Festival program book.
22.11.13, 40 participants, Friday
This excursion led by Guide Yisrael Gorelik began with a tour of the modern city of Ariel, the campus of Ariel University, the Center for the Performing Arts, and a beautiful lookout point onto the Shomron Valley and the gravesite of Joshua Son of Nun, who led the Jewish People into the land over 3000 years ago. We then visited the new Biblical Park of Ariel - an outdoor interactive museum which depicts scenes from the Bible - including Rebecca's well, Joseph in the pit, the Tabernacle in the desert (with real fire coming "down from heaven" on the altar), Moses looking out on Israel from Mt. Nebo, the "splitting of the Jordan River" upon the Jews' crossing into Israel, and Joshua's altar, whose clear remains were uncovered by archeologist Adam Zartal (a fascinating Biblical archeological discovery worth reading more about).
26.11.13, 40 participants, Tuesday
10.12.13, 50 participants, Tuesday
These Jewish Brain Ring Competitions (see #3) were dedicated to the theme of Chanuka and Jewish history. Teams of participants solved clever problems proposed by facilitator Yan Privorotski, with prizes for the winning teams. The group presented Yan with a beautiful Chanukia, a token of their appreciation for his dedication to the group for the past one and a half years.
29-30.11.13, 55 participants, Friday-Shabbat
"This Shabbat was truly special for me. It was Shabbat Chanukah with “Shishi-Shabbat Israeli” at the Dead Sea. We started very early Friday morning. This day was full of interesting David’s stories about Wadi Salvador and he brought us hundreds and thousands of years ago in time of excursion. At 2 PM we arrived to Ein Gedi hostel which is located near the shore with an amazing view. After lighting Chanuka and Shabbat candles with everyone, David led a very interesting discussion about the personality of Joseph as world's economic advisor and Jewish leader - on both the material and spiritual planes. Judith led a workshop on overcoming fear and human psychology (connected to the victory of the few over the many in the Chanuka story). Late in the evening, our guest lecturer Vera invited us to visit a “Café Midrash” where we read and discussed different stories and texts.
Our second day started with wonderful view to the Dead Sea from our windows and balconies. The program for this day was full of interesting workshops for everyone - including an military analyis by David of the Maccabees victory in the Chanuka story, a walk along the Dead Sea in the afternoon, Ze'ev "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" session, and Havdala.
This seminar, as always with “Shishi-Shabbat Israeli,” was full of new,interesting information. The organizers invited inspiring people to participate, chose an amazing place to stay and gave us an opportunity to spend Shabbat Chanukah in warm, family atmosphere."
1.12.13, 180 Volunteers, 350 Survivors and Veterans
Over the course of three nights during Chanuka, 180 young volunteers from all over Israel distributed festive gift packages and lit Chanuka candles in the homes of 350 Holocaust Survivors and WWII Veterans. The highlight of the Operation was on Sunday night, when the Director General of the Ministry of Absorption, Oded Forer, lit Chanuka candles and gave his blessing to120 volunteers before they went out to light up the homes of their new elderly companions. Here is a video of this unforgettable evening:
"This evening was organized (and delayed a few days because of the snow, which kept Jerusalem residents away) to mark the Tenth of Tevet, also known in Israel as the Day of General Kaddish for victims of the Shoah. About 20 participants from the Tel Aviv area gathered to hear David Taubkin, who spoke about Jewish life in Minsk before the War, the Minsk Ghetto and the constant removal and executions of Jews, his escape from the Ghetto and his trials in an orphanage until the end of the War. He also told about the Righteous Gentiles whom he knows personally who saved many Jews in Minsk. He resettled in Moscow with his father, a famous doctor, after the War. He described his repatriation to Israel in 1991, where "he could not imagine a more satisfying life" - he has many social activities here and lectures occasionally, he is a proud grandfather, his son teaches in university, his wife keeps a kosher home, lights candles every Shabbat, and goes to synagogue with him four times a year... The participants asked many questions after his talk, about his attitude towards modern Germany and Germans today, his attitude towards religion, and other questions about his Holocaust experiences. We gave David a special plant as a token of appreciation, and David gave our lending library his book about the Minsk Ghetto."
Tanya Telepinsky, Tel Aviv Coordinator
And here are photos which I recently received from two young couples who met through Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and are now raising a sweet, new generation of Israelis:
May they celebrate many more smachot together with the Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli family!
January 2, 2017
Games master Pavel Pivovarov facilitated this traditional event of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. Board games are an amazing , fun pastime for everyone who loves intellectual games and a great opportunity to meet new friends. At the beginning of the event, Pavel explained the rules of the new table games and divided our young participants into teams of 3-6 people. They played different games for 3 hours, and everyone looks forward to the next event!
November 8, 2017, Haifa
Professor Amatzia Baram, an expert on Syria and Iraq, and Yisrael Lavi, former head of the Mossad , made very interesting presentations on the political situation in the Arab countries and its impact on the Northern border of Israel. Then they answered many questions of our participants and led a lively discussion about Israel’s geopolitical role and future.
September 11th, "Lenny's Bar", Tel-Aviv
Lecture about the Israeli Literature with Eli Bar Yalom
This academic lecture at the bar was the first meeting of Argaman's Fall semester dedicated to Israeli Literature. Eli Bar Yalom told about the history of Israeli Literature from the times of the Talmud, Rashi, and Rambam, focusing on Hebrew as the main language of Jewish literature and on the fact that Hebrew was actually never “dead” or unused. We learned that modern Hebrew has Sephardic pronunciation, why the poet Bialik stands out in this respect, who wrote the first Hebrew sonnets and adventure novels, what were the real merits of Ben Yehuda and why the book of Bibi Netanyahu's younger brother disappeared from the shelves within a week after the publication. It was a really great introduction to our topic. After the lecture and numerous questions of our participants, Eli left and our group continued the conversation over a glass of good beer.
September 28th, Hour Space at Lilienblum St., Tel-Aviv
Workshop with Israeli writer and Artist Elena Makarova
This was one of the most interesting and unusual meetings of the Argaman Project in 2017. We experienced real art-therapy with the increadible Elena Makarova -a writer, sculptor, artist and curator of many international exhibitions. She allowed our participants to express themselves as she told stories of her life and professional path. We made funny dolls from napkins, heard different musical excerpts and drew what we felt. Her main topic in recent years is the art in concentration camps during Holocaust. She discussed several books that she published on this topic. The evening was really a one-of-the-kind experience and all the participants left inspired and motivated, with many different thoughts and feelings. "This was exactly what I needed in this period of my life, only several weeks after making the Aliya. Huge thanks to Elena for this class"
March 24th, 2017 - Tel Aviv
Our Argaman Group of about 30 people met in Bialik Square with Tel Avivian guide, historian, and architecture expert Michael Duchovny and showed us around the area. He connected stories of concrete buildings with the people who lived there and created the city and the modernist trends of Tel-Aviv.
We enjoyed a short tour of the Rubin Museum, discussed the creative works of Reuven Rubin and the meaning of his art for the city. Then we visited the Museum of Bauhaus (next door to Bialik Museum), discussed the idea of Bauhaus, and went to the small auditorium where Michael led a discussion about the 1920's in Tel-Aviv, and the arts and architecture of the period.
After talking about the White City, we learned a famous song sung by Shlomo Gronich (“Yesh Li Simpatiya”) and discussed the ideas behind the lyrics.
"The tour was really exciting – thank you to Michael for the opportunity to see the beauty in seemingly simple buildings"
"The small area of Bialik turned out super-interesting and significant for the story of our city, and probably became one of my favourite places. I also want to come back to the Rubin Museum and visit Bialik's House next time"
January 27-28, 2016 - Qumran and Ein Gedi
Despite the rain and cold weather, our seminar together was warm, wonderful and informative! Shlomo Kol Yaakov is one of the most interesting archeologists I have met.
I liked that he spent time getting to know all of us. Touring the Qumran excavations and hiking in Ein Gedi on Shabbat with him was a great experience. I also understood more about the agricultural connections of Jewish holidays, thanks to him and Eli, and the connection between Tu B’Shvat, the return of the Jews home and how our nature and agriculture are flourishing!
The atmosphere was perfect as always, and Havdala was the best ever. Thank you to the organizers and participants!
November 16, 2016 Jerusalem. In November, we launched a new four-part series in collaboration with Genesis Philanthropy Group and Hebrew University.
Last night Dr. Serge Ruzer gave a fascinating talk about sources and approaches to the Jewish concept of Messianism. This was the first of four lectures and referred to sources up to the destruction of the second Temple. With great interest I learned that in various books of the Tanakh, Messiah is perceived as a king, a priest, and a prophet anointed by God. At the same time, it was interesting to look at two other views taken from the Qumran Codes and the New Testament. While members of the Qumran sect believed that the Messiah could only be anointed by Aharon the Cohen, Christianity and the Apostles stressed that Jesus was a Messiah since, according to them, he was a descendant of King David.
Welcome to beautiful Raphael and Mazal Tov to Tanya (our former Tel Aviv Coordinator) and Adam on their first Sabra baby. May your raise him in health ad 120.
Only their dog is having a hard time :).
August 19-20, 2016, Neve Daniel
We spent a wonderful Shabbat together with Linda and her family and their great neighbors – the atmosphere was one of peace and love, so nobody could stay indifferent. We all took part in preparations – baking challot and picking and stomping fresh grapes with our feet to make many liters of fresh grape juice!!
In this romantic atmosphere, just before Shabbat, Sasha proposed to Chana in the Bird Watching tower!! This was very exciting – they even announced it in the synagogue ( an uplifting “Carlebach” style Kabbalat shabbat that I never experienced before and is hardly found in big cities).
Shabbat was relaxing and moving – the best lessons about Tu B’Av, songs, delicious food, games, and hiking in the fresh air with Zeev.
A big thank-you for this memorable weekend!
June 10, Jerusalem
Groups from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem joined a busload of participants from Haifa for an uplifting morning on Mt. Herzl.
For most participants it was their first time in this fascinating interactive Herzl Museum, and they found it very interesting and exciting. They toured the Mt. Herzl cemetery in alternating groups and learned about the leaders and fighters who are buried there, which they said made them feel proud of the Jewish People and Israel.
They learned about the history of Zionism, heard excerpts from Altneuland and Herzl’s famous speeches.
One of the tour guides on Mt. Herzl was a participant in Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli who said that our excursions inspired her to do the Israeli Tour Guide course!
Our deep thanks to the World Zionist Organization who sponsored this memorable morning.
February and March, 2016, Beit Avichai, Jerusalem
On February 10th, we opened our third series of the Argaman Project, in partnership with the Posen Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group and Beit Avichai, on the topic of Jewish and Israeli film and television. Our lecturer was acclaimed director and filmmaker Sasha Vilensky who provided a fascinating overview of Israeli film from the 1940’s to the present day, including film clips from different periods. We watched most of the 1968 film by Efraim Kishon “Blaumilch Canal” - and enjoyed discussing its humor and relevance to Israel today. Sasha provided participants with a list of other classic Israeli movies that they should see in their free time! (Happy to forward it to anyone interested!)
On February 24th, the Founder and Director of the International Animation Festival in Moscow, Dina Goder, shared with the group the history of Israeli animation, reflecting different periods and moods in our history. Dina showed us many examples of Israeli animation, mostly from graduates of Betzalel Art Academy. Below is a link (for Hebrew speakers – sorry) to a particularly moving animated film by a young Russian-speaking immigrant about his service in the IDF: https://vimeo.com/26009520
On March 9th, researcher and lecturer Itai Harlap described the development of the Israeli television industry, from it’s use as a political platform for the Israeli government to the rapid development of popular television series in recent years. He spoke also about cable television, viewing habits of Israelis, media moguls, future trends in television content that he foresees, and also communications studies in Israeli academic institutions today, all of which were of great interest to our participants.
On March 31st, we concluded this series with a festive evening in the Jerusalem Cinemateque, in tribute to its late founder, Leah Van Leer. The evening included a screening of the film “Princess Show”, about an Israeli musician “Kutiman” who changes the life of a poor songwriter from New Orleans using digital music from musicians from around the world. After a discussion with the director, Ido Har, the evening concluded with a dramatic surprise performance by Kutiman and Princess Show which had the whole audience on its feet, clapping and singing. Our group was very enthusiastic about this program, touching on the power of music and the idealism of one Israeli digital music maestro.
January 22, 2016 - Beit Shemesh area
Thank you to the organizers for this fabulous trip and wonderful atmosphere!!! We brought new life to the rocky hills of Israel by planting trees and celebrating Tu B'Shvat in a traditional way. We had breakfast, including many fresh and dried fruits, on the beautiful patio of the goat farm, and learned everything about the life of goats: how they are born (we saw two births!!!), how they are milked (we did that too!) , their social habits, what they eat etc.
The best part was the master class on preparing goat cheese. We each prepared our own 200 gram container of fresh goat "Ricotta", and learned all the techniques and chemical explanations for the process of cheesemaking, and the health benefits of goat's milk over cow's milk.
The expression "A Land of Milk and Honey" refers to goat's milk!
It was a day of inner harmony, new friends and communion with nature that left me very happy!
December 2015 was another fruitful month for Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli! Mazal tov to our own Ilya and Masha on the birth of Yaakov, Nelly and Yaroslav on the birth of Natan, and Elena and Sasha on the birth of Eva Sofiya – may they grow up healthy and strong.
“And you shall see your children’s children – peace on all of Israel!”
November 30, 2015 - Tel Aviv
Our whole group was invited to “Cluster”, a Start-Up Hub in Tel Aviv, to hear about Israel’s outstanding start-up industry from the hub’s founder Alex Tabak. He told many stories of high tech start ups in Israel – those that succeeded and some that didn’t. The participants asked many questions and he gave very informative answers about the problems and challenges of technology and investment, for all those who were interested in launching their own start-ups one day.
October 30-31, Mitzpeh Ramon
Thank you to the organizers, lecturers and sponsors for a wonderful seminar. Friday's hike was super through Mount Ruchama in the Negev - a lot of sand and mountains and suddenly – a lake in the desert! Mitzpeh Ramon is a place of great beauty – just beyond the threshold of our accomodations we could look out over the crater and its lunar landscapes. I try to come to seminars because of the memorable Shabbat atmosphere – Shlomo knew how to create this tranquility and run discussions on personal development and Jewish mysticism that left me with a lot of food for thought. It was great to get acquainted with new people and see our friends run sessions. People are so open. Thank you Shishi Shabbat for the opportunity to discover new places in Israel, our history and Jewish wisdom and traditions!
August 20, 2015 - Beit Kehillot, Jerusalem
I wanted to thank you for the Thursday evening devoted to 10 years since the disengagement.
It was an important night in my opinion, as nothing can compare with obtaining information from the original source - Miriam Freiman, a doctor and resident of Gush Katif. The movie about her family - "In Freiman's Kitchen" - provided a true understanding of the difficulty and moral dilemmas of that period - people who had dedicated their entire lives to building up Gush Katif, their disbelief and sense of abandonment.
The journalist Gabriel provided an insight into the Israeli media's generally one-sided approach to the disengagement during that period.
Though many of us were not yet in Israel 10 years ago, this is a part of Israeli history that we should not forget!
July 23, 2015, Haifa
This was a fun evening and a great way to grow our Haifa Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli community! We had many new participants and the atmosphere was really nice. Some of the games were familiar but others were new and intriguing. Everyone asked when they can gather again and talked about other events that we can plan together.
June 1, 2015 - Habima Theater, Tel Aviv, and June 23, 2015, Beit Avichai Jerusalem
Thank you for this amazing evening at the HaBima National Theater. The play "Panic" was a very funny comedy and it was good to see professional Israeli actors who clearly enjoyed themselves on stage. It was also excellent to take a break from my hard weekday work schedule and enjoy a cultural evening with many friends in the beautiful HaBima complex, which I had never visited before. Thanks to Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and the Ministry of Absorption (in celebration of 25 years of aliyah from FSU) for organizing this great opportunity.
Last night we gathered under the sky in the courtyard of Beit Avichai to hear a great concert – Moscow-born actress and singer Anya Bukshtein performing the songs of Israeli composer Yossi Banai. I didn’t realize how many of his songs I had actually heard but never knew that he composed them (i.e. Al Kol Ele by Naomi Shemer!) . Some were slow, some were funny and energetic. The best part of the evening were the jazz musicians who accompanied Anya – they were first-rate. I would have never gotten to this concert on my own. Project Argaman is a super idea!
Anna Bukstein performs the songs of Yossi Banai – June 23, 2015
April 7-8, 2015, Hof HaBonim
In the name of everyone who participated, I want to thank Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli for helping us continue this wonderful tradition. We arranged an interesting and fun camping trip on Pesach our third year in a row! The Bonim Nature Reserve is stunning, and we all enjoyed hiking, fishing, making our campfire and just relaxing there. Pitching our tents on the seashore added to the experience. Although I am not religious, it was meaningful for me that everyone was careful about the kashrut laws for Pesach so that everyone felt comfortable and had a great time together – and the barbeque was delicious as always.
With appreciation, Vagif E.
March 6th, 2015 - Independence Park, Jerusalem
What a perfect way to spend Purim, with good friends and all the traditional customs – but outside in a sunny Jerusalem park! Reuven read Megillat Esther for us, fast and funny like last year, and our Purim meal together was delicious barbeque, prepared by our best chefs...The music was great, the games and competitions were fun and helped us meet new people and also exchange our Mishlochei Manot. And everyone invested in their costumes per usual – so good to spend holidays with our Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli kehilla!
Friday, January 16, 2015
This was a perfect activity for a stormy Friday in Jerusalem. We gathered for a car racing competition – but the atmosphere was one of comraderie, excitement and cheering fans!As always with us, the main thing was not to win, but to be together again. Let it be cold and icy outside – inside was warm and fun.
Thanks to Shishi-Shabbat Yisraeli for helping me organize such a positive and friendly competition!
Beit Kehillot, Wednesday December 10, 2014
I was very happy to join the study evening on Wednesday in Beit Kehillot with Rav Faerman. Previous events with Shishi Shabbat have always been quite interesting and it was also good just to drink tea with old friends from the group. I had not thought very much before about the reasons we celebrated New Year in the FSU and it’s connection to Chanuka (i.e. December 25 based on 25th of Kislev) and the lecture and discussions afterwards opened up for me a new way of looking at Chanuka, the challenges of being Jewish then and in our generation. I liked the short movie “Lights” that he showed us in the beginning, which he had translated into Russian many years ago. Rabbi Faerman is an erudite scholar and charismatic storyteller and I really enjoyed this evening!
October 26 and 29, 2014
Ilya, Assistant Director of Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli, and his beloved Maria were married in Jerusalem last month, in the presence of a full hall of enthusiastic Shishi Shabbat participants. The feeling was one of huge,extended family - we had all waited for this moment!! Their siblings, parents and grandparents from St. Petersburg were visibly moved by all the blessings, as our resident MC Valera carried the microphone from table to table. A few days later 28 friends and family members gathered at Linda and Ze’ev’s house for Sheva Brachot – a Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli tradition which we hope to continue throughout the years! We ate, sang, and made many l’chaim’s to the bride and groom using the Russian alphabet book “Bukvar”. Two second generation Shishi Shabbat babies also joined the celebration....To smachot!
Jerusalem - September 23, 2014
This was a night to remember! There were 250 of us, dancing and enjoying a great program under the Jerusalem night sky! Even the weather was perfect. Everything was so well-organized – the Rosh Hashana cards we wrote to one another, the “brand wall” for taking pictures, the poetry box, the holiday quiz and competitions, the waltz for our newly married couples, the prizes for all the volunteers. It was such a good way to end the year and begin a new one, spending some great hours with old friends from Shishi Shabbat, and making new ones. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming and I am left with such a good feeling after this wonderful evening. I look forward to many more events like this one. Thank you to all the organizers!!
Friday, July 18
What an interesting and unusual excursion we had last Friday with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli! Yes, many of our friends were in reserve duty or staying close to home, given the rockets from Gaza, but I am so glad this trip went on as scheduled. I would never have gotten to this area or had these incredible experiences on my own. We visited the national park in Mt Grizim where the pages of the Bible came alive for us (the blessings and the curses before entering the Land), saw the remains of the Samaritan temple, and looked out over Shechem and the gravesite of Joseph. We visited the site of the Samaritans’ Passover, met a Samaritan and heard about their traditions. But I would say the most memorable part of the day was our visit to Itamar – the environmentally-friendly dairy farm in Giva’ot Olam , the winery, and the Zimmerman family farm where no resources go to waste – Rachel Zimmerman’s energy, their hydroponic farming methods and the delicious organic baked goods, goat cheeses, granola and dried fruit that she offered us were so inspiring. The Zimmerman’s are almost completely self- sufficient, which reminded me that we needn’t run to the supermarket for everything.Thanks for this day and awaiting future events!
Tuesdays June 10, 17, 24, July 1 – Ramat Gan
What a good idea this course is – weekly sessions on Jewish History with Alex Maimon! He is one of my favorite guides. His lectures expand our horizons and make me want to learn more and ask questions about our history that I never thought about before. We so far have studied the historical context of the Exodus from Egypt, the location of Mt. Sinai, dynasty of King David, and the Jewish historical connections to the Temple Mount compared to that of other religions. I hope Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli will continue with lectures of this caliber.
April 16-17 (organized by volunteers Yehudit Z. and Eli B.)
On Chol HaMoed Pesach we travelled to the North to Park HaYarden. We started this tradition last Pesach with 20 people – this year we were 30. We had great fun – the feeling of togetherness, kosher-for-pesach grills, all-night campfire, guitars and good friends! We had a discussion about seeing ourselves, in every generation, as leaving Egypt and the most broad understanding of slavery today. All this, around the campfire eating barbeque and matza, singing songs and going to sleep in our tents, just like our ancestors when they left Egypt.
Wednesday, January 15, Jerusalem
«I try to attend most of the events of Shishi Shabbat because I like the atmosphere, the interesting people that come, and the messages we take away from these meetings. This was my first Seder Tu-Bishvat - we sang songs about Israel, ate from beautiful fruit platters, and learned about the symbolism of each fruit in Judaism and the significance of the holiday. But the most outstanding part of the celebration was the fruit carving contest. A professional fruit carver demonstrated how to cut melon into flowers, and then everyone divided into groups with one carving knife and created crazy fruit sculptures while getting to know one another. The results were impressive! The whole evening was so interesting, fun, and full of joy!»
Our volunteers braved stormy weather to learn watercolor techniques from new olah art teacher Ksenya.
They also enjoyed helping mentally challenged adults make flower and fruit creations in the spirit of Tu B’Shvat.
November 15, 2017 - Haifa
Alexei led an excellent evening of competitive questions, including many quiz questions about modern Israel, Jewish history and Jewish traditions. New people join these competitions each time so we also did icebreakers and everyone had a good time.
October 3, 2017
Many new olim and veteran members of our Haifa group enjoyed a competitive treasure hunt on the topic of Sukkot, in collaboration with Chabad. Yigal gave a small lecture, and then the teams searched for encrypted numbers, had to dance, play chess, learn about Lulav and Etrog, solve logic riddles, find coins and in the end finish building the sukkah, prepare food and receive prizes. They stayed to play games together even after the event was over. A wonderful evening!
March 30, 2017 - Haifa
At the end of March we had a deep and interesting training workshop with psychologist Leah Vidensky. She talked about relationships, communication, and mutual understanding, and also brought in Jewish traditions which help preserve good marital relationships. People came with a lot of questions, and it was interesting to observe how they began to understand one another. There was a lot of good feedback and desire to participate in these workshops in the future.
Mazal tov to our dear (former Tel Aviv Coordinator) Inna and Sergei, Sasha and Chana, Dima and Yulia, and Roman and Inbal on their recent marriages and Marina and Pavel on the birth their baby girl! Looking forward to many more opportunities to rejoice with our expanding young Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli families!
Cameri Theater Group, November 7, 2016 - Jerusalem
This week we attended a performance of "Wolves" (directed by Hillel Mittelpunkt) by the Cameri - a premier Israeli Theatre company.
Before the show we met Irina Gorelik, the Director of Micro Theatre (located in the same complex) and she told us about the history of theater in Jerusalem in general, the philosophy of the Jerusalem theatre and her professional path in Israel. We also spoke about the political background of the play “Wolves”, set in 1978, a year after the dramatic political shift in Israel that brought the Likud Party to power for the first time. The play was really excellent – an emotionally charged drama about the widowed Ze’eva (Tiki Dayan) and her family with a lot of wit, humor, and outstanding performances.
After the show the participants discussed the political and general messages of the play. They told personal stories, debated and argued about who were the most sympathetic characters, but all seemed to really enjoyed the acting.
September 16th, Haifa
Sasha took us exploring again in the Carmel Mountains – our favorite Friday custom and each time new people join us. We walked for 4 1/2 hours climbing down from Little Switzerland to the bottom of the Carmel Mountains along the estuary, enjoying the beauty of the nature reserves.
Along the way, Sasha taught us the history, plant and animal life and topography of the area. We came home tired before Shabbat but happy!
August 29th, 2016 - Haifa
We gathered to read and discuss the Israeli author Edgar Karet juxtaposed with the works of Woody Allen! We debated about love, the Jewish People, New York and Tel Aviv. The atmosphere was lively and friendly, and after two hours many of us still had more opinions to express! These are interesting and thought-provoking events and I hope to participate again!
June 13, 2016, Tel Aviv
Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli is often invited to meet with visiting groups of young Russian Jews from overseas.
On June 13th I was part of a panel that met with 15 Russian-speaking young Jewish leaders from the Los Angeles area who are trying to build community and engage other young Russian-speaking American Jews. We discussed issues of language and their desire to preserve Russian culture. But mostly they were interested in programming ideas to combat assimilation and help inculcate Jewish values in a modern context. They were surprised to hear that strong Jewish identity and Jewish literacy are not a given among young Israelis, and that they must be creatively taught and nurtured everywhere, including Israel!
March 25, 2016 - Jerusalem
What a great day!!! Warm weather, my friends in crazy costumes, hearing Megillat Esther with noisemakers, contests run by Lena and Valera, beer, and great-tasting barbequed chicken and meat. And the music and dancing in the middle of beautiful Jerusalem !! Purim in the Park is a great Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli tradition which I don’t mind waking up for on Purim morning!
January 19, 2016, Haifa
In collaboration with Hadar l’Hadar community, Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli hosted an exciting Tu B’Shvat seder with fruit, wine and a short lecture by Rabbi Daniel, followed by a challenging intellectual quiz game connected to the holiday. The clues were not easy but everyone enjoyed. The atmosphere was lively and about 40 people competed for the top prizes – photo sweatshirts!
December 10, 2015, Jerusalem
Over 300 young Russian-speaking immigrants, many of whom arrived in 2015, joined us for an exciting Chanuka extravaganza in Jerusalem, organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Absorption and the Jerusalem Municipality. The event included 4 different walking tours of the capital, candlelighting with Ministry and Municipality officials, excellent music, icebreakers, activities and prizes connected to the holiday, photo magnets, and of course delicious gourmet doughnuts. Participants danced and mingled until the wee hours.
We are grateful to all the partners who helped us create this very warm and memorable holiday welcome for our newest olim!
November 19, 2015 - Haifa
Intellectual and table games were part of my childhood in Ukraine. I recently finished my Masa program and was really happy to find a group of friends here in Haifa that I could have fun with and feel like family, especially on Jewish holidays. .Last night we learned about the month of Kislev – Chanuka – also played new table games that I had never seen, plus the old classic “Mafia” - which gets us arguing every time! It was a cool night – thank you Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli Haifa!
This past month we celebrated two Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli weddings and one birth. A huge Mazal Tov to our dear Drs. Leonid and Alina Galin, who celebrated with many other medical members of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli (a lot of gynecologists at one simcha!) and to our former Central Area Coordinator Tanya Telepinsky and Adam Yegor who stood under the chupa in October. Felix and Yulia Poliakov, who met at one of our Purim celebrations, became parents to a beautiful baby daughter!! May we continue to build rooted, vibrant young Jewish families in Am Yisrael!
September 8, 2015, Haifa
Our Rosh Hashana event was interesting and fun. We organized this evening with the Machanaim community and about 45 people attended. We had a workshop on the Rosh Hashana seder, with traditional fruits and vegetables, prepared candy apples and hand-made puzzles, and ran a quiz game about the Chagim. Rabbi Daniel Ravkin taught the group about Rosh Hashana and blew the shofar. We made a L’Chaim on wine and everyone left tired, but happy.
On both days of Rosh Hashana, a small group of us also gathered to hear a special Shofar blowing near Haifa port.
July 19th, 2015
It is a custom not to eat meat during the 9 days before Tisha B'Av, when we remember the destruction of the Temples and other terrible incidents in Jewish history. Zeev spoke about this tradition and the things we should be focusing on during this sad period of the year. Then we rolled up our sleeves and took part in a dessert workshop by our friend Yulia, who is a professional dessert chef at the Ramada Hotel! We prepared gourmet toppings and mousses with chocolate and berries and seasonal fruits - the process was long but the results were impressive and delicious! Thank you Yulia for your patience and sharing your talents with us!!
May 16, 2015 - Jerusalem
It turns out that young Russian-speaking olim know a lot about the history of Jerusalem and the Old City! On May 17th, Jerusalem Day, 20 teams of 4-6 people ran at breakneck speed through the Old City of Jerusalem, searching for the answers to tough questions, in a special “Quest” organized by Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. Finding the solutions was only part of the challenge that faced the contestants. The Old City was so packed that we could barely move, especially near the Kotel. But these extreme conditions did not stop us or the other participants. We played not only for fun, but for excellent prizes. All the teams chose names – “Pharisees”, “Point J,” “Collaborators” - and some even had their own t-shirts! In other words, there was a lot of spirit and it was great fun.
Some sample questions (we had to find the place and send a photo with the correct answers):
- The destroyed synagogue "Tifferet Yisrael," was built by Rabbi Israel of Ružiná. Who donated the money (1000 coins), for the construction of the roof of the synagogue?
- This girls’ school was built in 1864 in Jerusalem. When Evelyn died in childbirth in 1886, the school was named after her to perpetuate her memory. What confirmation did you find that this family built the school?
- Find and photograph the stone on which are carved the words of the prophecy from Zechariah (8: 4-5). Whom is this text about?
April 23, Gush Etzion
This is my third year participating in Yom HaAtzmaut with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli.We sampled goat cheese in Sde Bar, hiked Nachal Tekoa through a surprising downfall of rain and hail, crawled on our stomachs through the Haritoun Caves, and visited a gallery of local artists in Tekoa before gathering for our traditional BBQ in Neve Daniel.
The fact that this area fell defending Jerusalem, the day before the State was declared, is enough reason to come back here every year. But I also love the spectacular views, the new people I meet, and of course the hospitality and great food. The rabbi of Neve Daniel spoke to us about prophecies in the Tanach that the Jews would be dispersed and a lot of us would return here, and I feel lucky to be living in this generation. I feel like I belong in Israel, and visiting places like Gush Etzion really puts our history in to perspective.
March 10 - 16, 2015
Through the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Jewish Agency, eight of our Haifa participants received the unique opportunity to travel to Vitebsk, Belarus, for the 21st International Purimshpiel Festival! Their play which was on the theme of internet dependency and the Purim story(!) – here’s a short summary from one of the participants:
"I am very proud that I was given opportunity to participate in the 21st international Purimshpiel Festival in Vitebsk, Belarus. As a person who was not familiar enough with Jewish culture, it was an exciting experience to find myself surrounded by young Jewish people from different countries, united by creative ideas and such strong national identity. The festival was well-organized and held on a very high level. Participants learned about life in different countries, particularly Israel, and got to show their talents in public. We received invaluable experience in stage work during the master classes, watched the fascinating performances of the other teams and heard the jury’s opinion about our work. Next year our team must work even harder to get Israel back to 1st place !"
Viktoriya M. (doctor and Ulpan student)
Friday, January 23, 2015
Our walking tour began at 10:00 at the Haifa Municipality building. In the Memorial Gardens, one of our Haifa project organizers, Yanna-Noa, ran games to help us wake up and get to know one another. We discovered that some of the participants had traveled from other cities in Israel for this hike, not just from Haifa. We were lucky with the weather and enjoyed beautiful views as we walked downhill from the top of the city. Our guide shared many interesting facts about the establishment of the city of Haifa up to the present day. We ended our trip in Paris Square, where we played a few intellectual games and discussed upcoming events for Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli Haifa.
Beit Oleh, Haifa - Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
«Thank you on behalf of the Russian-speaking young adults of Haifa! We were waiting for this moment!
On December 16, the first night of Chanuka, in collaboration with the Haifa Municipality, Beit Oleh, Chabad and many local young activists, we opened the newest branch of the Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli family in Haifa. The event was attended by close to 100 young people aged 18-35 years. After introductory remarks, a short movie about Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and some fun clips on Chanuka, the program continued with a dramatic, interactive theatrical perfomance about the essence of Chanuka and the lighting of the first Chanuka candle with everyone together. Then we ate sufganiyot and cold and hot drinks, and went into the courtyard for 2 more hours of group dynamics, games and interesting quizzes run by our talented volunteers Ilya and Oleg, about Chanuka, Haifa, and Jewish trivia.
Everyone met a lot of new people, said that the event was run on a high level, and had an excellent time together!
They are waiting for the next Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli happening in Haifa!»
Alexei M. (former IDF Officer, M.B.A. student in Technion and now Coordinator of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, Haifa)
November 14, 2014
This was a great event – fun, well-planned, sunny weather and I met new people my age who had moved to Jerusalem from all over the world. I enjoyed the Pilates and yoga sessions - the teachers were excellent - while other people played volleyball, and ate vegetables, fruits and other healthy food. The best session was Bootcamp, led by an ex-Marine! He was tough but it was great to sweat with friends from Shishi Shabbat! Nice way to wind down before the weekend. We should make these sports Fridays a tradition.
Tel Aviv, September 18, 2014
Over 70 participants from all over Israel enjoyed this evening of study and gourmet treats in preparation for the High Holidays, in collaboration with the Midrasha HaTzionit and Milhauz. We started with a holiday cooking workshop and then had a discussion about Rosh Hashana and the meaning of the shofar. Afterwards there were two parallel workshops – one in Beit Midrash format and another on personal, national and universal themes of the Fall holidays. There was a true congenial holiday atmosphere and everyone left with sweet food in their bellies and much food for thought.
Sunday September 14
A small crowd of 25 friends and Konstya’s family from St. Petersburg gathered at Linda and Ze’ev’s for Sheva Brachot a few days after the wedding. We made a delicious barbeque together, blessed Kostya and Vika for the New Year and their future life together (based on the game Story Cubes), drank L’Chaim’s, sang many songs, ate grapes from the grapevines, and had an overall uplifting evening. Kostya’s family was very moved and impressed, having never experienced such a joyful Jewish celebration in someone’s home before.
August 13th, Jerusalem
We joined together with Jerusalem Village to welcome Jerusalem newest young immigrants and celebrate Tu B’Av under the Jerusalem stars....
Over 200 young adults participated in this event, planned by volunteers from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, along with French, and English-speaking organizers and MC’s. There were games and icebreakers, good food and music, and many opportunities to meet new friends from all over the Jewish world, who have come home to Jerusalem...
Friday June 13 – Tel Aviv
About 35 members of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli were among the 2226 people who made history on Friday June 17th by participating in the Guinness Book of World Records Largest Shabbat dinner in the world! The event was superbly organized by White City Shabbat and Chabad and the food was absolutely delicious. Every participant received a Kabbalat Shabbat booklet and bracelet . It was very moving to see this number of mostly young people from all over the country and the world participating in Kabbalat Shabbat services, lighting candles, singing, and enjoying Shabbat together in the port of Tel Aviv. Our participants said that it was an experience they will never forget. Along the same vein, we are currently trying to organize a network of smaller community Shabbat dinners in our members’ apartments in cities across Israel.
Meet Yaakov, a world-renowned artist and wonderful man! Here are a few of the paintings from his home workshop. He shares so many interesting stories from his life – I highly recommend that you meet him too. Our group of four volunteers from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli divide up visits to his home every week. Us and many other volunteers have been visiting WWII Veterans in Jerusalem on a regular basis for three years now, especially during the holidays. And now we have wonderful adopted “grandparents” to speak to and share our lives with.
January 25, 2018
It's nice that when we come to a new country, we have the opportunity to understand it from the inside and participate in its life, and not to watch everything from the outside.
One of the best ways to do this is to study local traditions and holidays. After all, even the Jews who celebrate Tu B’Shvat outside of Israel, for sure, do it differently, in their own way. For example, Linda, who made aliyah from America, described awaiting a parcel with dried fruits from Eretz Yisrael to feel the real taste of the holiday. Boris Haminsky gave us a chance to learn the history and reasons for the holiday, eat traditional local treats in warm company, and listen to Israeli music. This holiday was the first time for me! Thanks to everyone who created it and participated!
November 12, 2017 - Haifa
We painted cotton bags in batik style. It was very exciting. Volunteers helped the people with mental disabilities create and paint beautiful bags.
The atmosphere was wonderful and our participants really gave but also enjoyed themselves a lot.
October 19, 2017 - Haifa
Great evening all about Rosh Hashana! Kostya was excellent – he shared many ideas about the meaning of the holiday, building clear plans for our futures (also as a community) and understanding really what we want in life. We drank wine, ate apples and honey, blew the Shofar and everyone really enjoyed themselves. Shana Tova!!
March 16, 2017 - Tel Aviv
We held an interesting professional empowerment evening with Michael Zingerman, the official spokesperson of the Israeli Police Force. Michael is a well-known Russian-speaking personality who knows the whole political echelon. He spoke about he different branches of the police, recruitment, and topics that are studied in the Israeli Police Academy. He also discussed the most appropriate personality to become a police officer, salaries, employment conditions, and becoming a police volunteer. He answered many questions of participants and everyone really enjoyed this meeting.
March 12-13, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
Our volunteers took care to share the Purim joy by bringing Mishlochei Manot (Purim food packages) and spending time with our dear Russian-speaking Survivors and WWII Veterans in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. One of our most moving visits was to Semyen, a 90 year old Veteran with no family in Israel who has an untreatable illness and is much weaker than when we last saw him. He was so grateful for the visit which truly cheered him up – shared his albums, talked about his days as an outstanding athlete! Our volunteers plan to rotate visiting him to make sure he has company every week.
Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa
The thrill of giving, of seeing sweet old faces light up at the sight of caring young people, bearing food and gifts and the desire to spend time with them and dispel their loneliness. Over 200 Russian-speaking elderly Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa received the most uplifting visits from our volunteers on Chanuka! Tables brimming with good food and gifts, candlelightings in many one- room apartments, precious time spent with loving individuals with so much to share. Everyone left with a story.
It was all made possible by the monies raised in Operation Light Up! Campaign – over half from our own olim members. Nothing speaks louder to me about their goodness and commitment to brightening other people’s lives. Thank you to everyone who gave and participated in this tremendous mitzvah, whose impact we are still feeling weeks later.
More Light Up! photos: https://www.facebook.com/pg/shishishabat/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1344465132231901
September 22, 2016 - Tel Aviv
Pavel organized another successful evening for us of intellectual and table games, with everyone alternating tables to meet new friends. Our Tel Aviv members say they look forward to these games nights, to relax and be with great people from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli after their long days of work.
June 30th, August 11th and 25th, Haifa and Tel Aviv
We played many different games, laughed and used our imaginations. It was great meeting over 30 new people in such a pleasant atmosphere. Thank you Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli – you have brightened my boring existence!! Your activities are always so engaging!!
June 2 and June 23, 2016, Tel Aviv
At the initiative of one of our members, we invited a famous professional new oleh artist, Alexander Mozlenov, to teach us how to draw scenes of Tel Aviv and take more notice of the small details and intriguing objects and views that we pass by every day. During both classes, we learned a specific style of drawing during the course of 2 hours and the results were impressive!
Many thanks to Tory, our volunteer organizer. Many of the participants hope to continue to paint Israel through these wonderful workshops.
March 25 -27, 2016 - Vitebsk, Belarus
This year I was privileged to participate in the International Purimshpiel Festival in Vitebsk, as a representative of Israel and Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. The experience began four months before when we started workshops and training with our amazing director, Leon Moroz, in the Beit Cherna Community Center, Jaffa. Through many rehearsals, we were able to produce a most impressive play, which connected Megillat Esther, modern theater, ancient Jewish melodies and contemporary music. For instance the show opened with the beautiful Shabbat melody, Shalom Aleichem. We overcame many budgetary, social and artistic challenges and finally arrived in Belarus and met many new Jewish friends from across the FSU. We visited historical Jewish sites such as the Marc Chagall house and participated in a memorial ceremony to the victims of the Holocaust. We laughed and we cried and were so moved, and now that we did not win first place, we must go back next year!
January 12, 2016 - Tel Aviv
In the Tel Aviv Olim Hub (in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Municipality), Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli organized a fascinating meeting with the Director of the Jabotinsky Institute, Adv. Ariel Bulshtein on the subject of Syria – history, people and current events. We learned about the Syrian military, the involvement of Russia, and other recent developments affecting Israel. It was an interactive, informative and even entertaining lecture!
December 13, 2015 - Jerusalem
On the last night of Chanuka, for the fourth year in a row, scores of young volunteers from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli brought warmth and light into the homes of isolated Russian-speaking Holocaust Survivors and WWII Veterans in the Jerusalem area. After contacting every elderly Survivor by phone, our members packed gift bags of nourishing and festive foods and then visited them in their apartments. They lit candles with them and and spent a long time afterwards, listening to their stories.
Here is a short movie produced by one of our members:
This project is special for so many reasons - the Survivors and Veterans are mostly over age 90 now and cherish the opportunity to tell their life stories, in Russian, to our members, themselves new olim, who left their own grandparents behind in the FSU. We also involved Masa participants in the project – students from the FSU most of whom will make aliya at the end of their program. As in previous years, our volunteers help raised the funds through our annual “Operation Light Up!” campaign - thank you for your many generous private contributions!!
To quote one of many of the responses of the volunteers afterwards: “This night was more moving for me than for the Veterans we visited. I really felt I was talking to modern-day Jewish heroes on Chanuka, even though they were very appreciative and humble. They are a dwindling population and we must do everything to show our respect and pass on their stories.”
November 11, 2015 - Haifa
We all gathered for a movie and popcorn, just like at home but with many old and new friends. This movie was about Indian Jewish families who moved to Israel in the 1960’s and are settled in the middle of the Negev desert with a community of Moroccan Jews. It was all about culture clash and we had a lot to talk about among ourselves at the end of the film. These are great evenings where everyone can talk about what’s on their minds and I hope we have more of them.
October 23, Kibbutz Yagur
Our Haifa group enjoyed another great Friday hike with old and new friends – some who have just moved to Israel. The route took us through the picturesque slopes of Mount Carmel to the nature reserve Ashdot Yagur. We went down the dry riverbed of the town Isfiya to Kibbutz Yagur, climbing a lot and getting to know one another. These hikes are the best way to get in the mood for Shabbat!
September 10, 2015, Tel Aviv
This Rosh Hashana event was also the inauguration of the Tel Aviv Branch of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, in collaboration with the Tel Aviv municipality.
We began with a traditional Rosh Hashana Seder, with all the participants tasting apples and honey, dates, pomegranates and other symbolic foods connected to blessings for a good and sweet coming year! We enjoyed a discussion with David about the meaning and history of the holiday, including the challenges of celebrating it during various periods in the Diaspora. We also shared with each other our visions of the holiday and left feeling more informed and inspired by David's insights into Rosh Hashanah, hoping to apply them in practice and to share them with others. We are grateful to Lana Eisenstadt and the Tel Aviv Municpality, who helped our dream become reality, hopefully to the benefit of thousands of young Russian-speaking olim who live in the area!
July 10, 2015
Our beloved local guide Alex led this hike which was not easy, but the beautiful views from atop the Carmel Mountains were good compensation for the climbing! We made several stops to hear about the area and at the end of the hike, drank tea and played acquaintance games to get to know one another better. We like this tradition of Friday hikes in Haifa – we get to meet new people and they are a great workout before Shabbat!
June 26-27, Tiberias
This was my first event with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and I did not know what to expect. I really liked our guide, Alex, who was very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. We were over 50 people and all so different – but what a great atmosphere. Our Friday water hike in Nachal Zaki was fun and challenging, but everyone helped each other out Our hotel was also an amazing place - about the life of Dona Gracia. She helped many Jews who were exiled from Spain and Portugal and also helped rebuild Tiberias, resettling many Jews there. The lectures about water throughout Shabbat were interesting – we had many experts from our group who talked about water usage, technology, and purification in Israel today, how our media influences public opinion about water, and water as a metaphor in Jewish sources and in Parshat HaShavua (Miriam’s well, how many problems in our history revolved around water!) Our walk to the sea and around Tiberias on Shabbat was great too. Thank you to all the organizers for this excellent seminar. I am really looking forward to the next one!
April 17, 2015 - Haifa
I have been a Facebook member of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli for a while now but was never able to participate in any of the events. I finally made it to the hike last Friday and it was simply amazing. I only regretted afterwards that I missed so many previous activities of your organization! The weather, the location and the warm energy among the participants were all wonderful. We started the hike in Tirat Carmel, left the borders of the city via a beautiful path that brought us to the Carmel Nature Reserve. We climbed to the Oranit cave and took many gorgeous pictures. The brave ones among us climbed to the top of the mountain, but most of us just relaxed among the shady trees and inhaled the cool air and rich smells of Spring. On the way down, our excellent guide, Michael, told us about the Shabbat Eruv which we could see around the city of Haifa. We then played a name game and icebreakers next to a beautiful spring of water where we stopped for lunch. I look forward to hiking with you all again soon!
March 12 and 26, 2015 - Beit Avichai, Jerusalem
We had two more exciting meetings of the Argaman Jewish Israeli Culture Project:
On Thursday, March 12th, we visited the National Theatre Archives at Hebrew University, led by famed playwright and actor Boris Yentin. Boris introduced us to philosophies behind Jewish scriptwriting and performance, while showing them rare Jewish sources, books and scripts that have been preserved for decades in the archives. He spoke about the first Jewish theatre companies in Israel, including the Habima, who dealt with the problem of the dirth of plays in the Hebrew language by translating their own scripts. The participants were very engaged and asked many questions...
On March 26th, we were given a fascinating overview of Jewish Israeli film by film researcher and historian Yuval Rivlin, including the first “hasbara” movies from the 1930’s, moving segments from through the classic Kazablan, through humorous and often poignant movies about immigration in general (“Lul”) and FSU olim in particular (Weizman 10), and recent Israeli Oscar-winning films. We saw how Israeli films that dealt with prevailing rifts in Israeli society over time – Ashkenazim and Sefaradim, New and Veteran olim, Religious and Secular, Jews and Arabs – and how Jewish culture in general in Israel is indeed a potpourri of immigrant yearnings, impressions, and experiences.
January 27, 2015
When the government housing company, Amidar, notified 90-year-old Holocaust Survivor Igor that they planned on moving him from his old apartment to a better one, they had no solution regarding how to move his belongings, including his furniture and refrigerator. He has no relatives in Israel and so turned to Lena, one of our volunteers who comes to visit him. I answered the emergency call on the Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli Facebook page and came with other volunteers from the group to help move his things. He told us that he taught literature and history, loved photography (had many boxes of slides). We moved many vinyl LPs, an old chandelier... He was so happy that all these treasures went with him to his new apartment.
Mazal Tov to Amuta member Ayelet and Haim Polak on the birth of their baby girl! And Mazal Tov to our one of our first Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli couples, Janna and Alon Karpel, on the birth of their second son, Elishama! Our expanding Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli family should continue to celebrate many smachot together...
- 29th of November History Lecture, November 26, 2014 - Begin Center, Jerusalem
Last Wednesday, I was extremely lucky to attend a fascinating lecture on the events of "Kaf Tet b'November", the U.N approval of the Partition Plan in 1947, given by a very knowledgeable Professor of History, Alexander Yakobson. During the lecture, which was in Russian, Prof Yakobson provided us with a comprehensive and detailed description of the Kaf Tet b'November events, and I personally gained a great amount of new important factual and historical knowledge about the foundation of the State of Israel.
The meeting was arranged by Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and is only one example of the many great things that this organization is constantly doing for Russian speaking young adults in Israel. Yasher Koach!"
Adv. Kirill S.
Hadera - September 11, 2014
This month we were priveleged to celebrate yet another wedding of a Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli couple! Kostya made aliya from St. Petersburg at age 20 on the Sela program, served in the IDF, works in archeology in the City of David and is completely his B.A in business. Vika, an architect, made aliya from Tver (Volga region) with her traditional family from the Caucusus at age 14.They met during one of our particularly romantic trips to the snowy Hermon in 2012. We rented a bus for this happy event, with stops in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and then Hadera. Their Chupah was very moving, orchestrated by an elderly Yemenite rabbi with a wonderful sense of humor and history. We should enjoy many more Smachot together!!
Kfar Etzion, August 29-30
This seminar was an unusual combination of “extreme” and romantic... We started off Friday by putting on climbing gear and maneuvering the ropes course, climbing wall, and 600 meter zipline across a breathtaking (scary!) valley, in Deerland - “Eretz Ayalim,” near Kfar Etzion. We watched a movie about the history of Gush Etzion, sampled cold beer in the local brewery, had lunch in Oz vGaon forest, founded in memory of the three kidnapped boys, and waded through freezing muddy water of the Biyar tunnels which used to bring water to Jerusalem during the time of the Temples. We switched to a different mode for shabbat – had many conversations about love, family and relationships in Judaism. I especially liked the activity run by Georgi and Naomi on Shabbat about male/female stereotypes. We met with a rabbi and his wife who told us about the Tzohar organization, whose rabbis marry couples without charge and in a meaningful way. They also help with the bureaucracy. There are still so many problems for couples who were not born in Israel, and it was good to hear about this.
And Saturday night after Havdala, MK Shuli Mualem-Rafaeli shared the story of her husband – the highest ranking officer among 73 pilots who were killed when two IDF helicopters crashed in 1997 - and her decision to “choose life”, strengthen the families of the victims, remarry and become a Member of Knesset. Surprising story and so inspiring!.
Thanks for another intense wonderful weekend of great people and experiences.
Tuesdays June 10, 17, 24, July 1 – Jerusalem
« I generally like to talk, but in this class with David about Jewish philosophy, I listen more and talk less. In yesterday’s lecture we continued to study the 13 Principles of Faith of Maimonides. We learned why Moshe was unique and and how his prophecy was different from predictions or forecasts we may hear today, how the Oral Law relates to the Sabbath but also to cloning, and how it develops in each generation. If philosophy also reflects historical reality then with good enough examples like David gave, almost every concept is possible to understand. As he said - “A good question is half the answer.” I prefer to listen in these classes and after the second lecture, even started taking notes. I feel bad for those who want to attend these classes but can’t because of work or other reasons»
April 24 and May 22, Ramat Gan
Firstly I want to thank the organizers of such evenings! The topic is very important to us, the young members of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, because this is the age where important relationships are formed. This week after our facilitator reviewed the content of our previous 2 lectures, she presented 7 different stages in serious relationships – only the last one being true love! The lecture was based on both Judaism and psychology, dealing a lot with the challenges of the "technological age". Conflicts are a natural thing and part of the process – relationship require work and neither side is necessarily to "blame". We spoke again about differences between self-fulfillment among men vs women and the need to be open about our needs. She and Zeev presented sources on the elevated, special status of marriage in Judaism, including a very interesting article about the Jewish wedding and family laws. One of the newest concepts for me from this lecture was "service" – overcoming ego in order to give wholeheartedly to your partner. Also, that overcoming ego is an expression of spirituality. Overall, a very important lecture and I hope that my girlfriend comes with me next time! Thank you!
This was the fourth and last session about relationships. We talked about conflicts between couples, taking responsibility and building self-confidence in our partners and families. There were about 25 participants and the discussions were very personal and lively. I have learned a lot from all these lectures with Sveta and friends my age and look forward to applying them to my next, hopefully lasting relationship!
Thursdays January 23- February 13, Jerusalem - in collaboration with the Jerusalem Municipality and Beit Kehillot Olim
«In this course, over 20 of us - young Russian-speaking olim with academic backgrounds - learned how to write business letters, correspondence with government offices, resumes, and other important documents in a way that has already boosted my confidence to succeed at these tasks on my own. The course was invaluable because a person who speaks and writes Hebrew on a high level is related to quite differently in both social and professional situations. Even those of us who have finished University still do not speak and write Hebrew on a level competitive with our Israeli peers. The more we deepen and broaden our level of Hebrew, the more we can succeed professionally, appreciate Israeli culture, and contribute to the development of Israeli sociey. I know that Hebrew literature is rich and varied - I want to be able to read it in the original! I hope there will be a continuation of this mini-course.»
February 1, 2018
More than 50 people came for this excellent evening of table and intellectual games. Many were new participants who were excited to find young people like them in Haifa. Everyone met new and old friends and had a great time. They asked to hold these evenings even more often.
Thank you to Chabad House for their hospitality.
November 29, 2017 - Tel Aviv
In this 3-hour workshop, our participants learned all the different options of cellphone cameras, how to compensate for their weaknesses, and how to control the camera to receive the best results. We then went outside and took pictures of Tel Aviv and reviewed the results with our lecturer.
September 13, 2017 - Haifa
The psychologist Leah continued her excellent discussions on men and women – dreams and reality – and the notion of family in Judaism. The participants said how important these workshops are for clarifying important problems in their lives – singles and couples!
March 22, 2017 - Jerusalem
Our last lecture in the JGalaxy Series with Hebrew University on Classics of Jewish Literature was presented by Dr. Zoya Kopelman on the works of Shai Agnon. Thanks to Zoya for a very interesting and rich evening, with her intriguing stories that made us love Shai Agnon as much as she does! I learned so many new things about his writings and life, including his clever word play and use of sources and Biblical symbols that infuse all of his stories. I enjoyed not only the lecture but Zoya's superb Russian language! Thanks to Ilya for helping organize this!
March 12, 2017, Jerusalem
About 250 new and veteran olim celebrated Purim with us in Jerusalem this year, in full clever costumes and great spirits. Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli collaborated with Nefesh b’NEfesh Lone Soldiers and the Absorption Authority of the Jerusalem Municipality to make it a memorable evening, including traditional raucous Megilla reading, professional make-up artist, contests and activities, food, drink and dancing until the wee hours. With thanks to all the volunteer organizers who made it such a success!
December 20, 2016 - Maaleh Adumim
Last night a busload of Argaman participants joined a wonderful musical performance, subsidized by the Ministry of Absorption, of the Habima Theatre Company (Tel-Aviv) – “Bustan Sfaradi”("Sephardic Garden") in the new Cultural Centre of Maaleh Adumim. This classic musical is about everyday life in the former Sephardic quarter Castel, Jerusalem – love, philosophy, tradition, neighbors, parents and children. The show, written by Yitzhak Navon, Israel’s fifth president, and directed by Tzedi Tsarfati, has won many awards.
"A wonderful performance, with atmosphere and good vibes. We left in a great mood. It also taught me something about Sephardic culture, stereotypes and all. And it was my first time in Maale Adumim! Thanks for showing me around
"When I saw the Facebook preview of this Argaman event I couldn’t believe it. I tried to get tickets for this a few months ago in the Habima Theater and they cost 300-400 NIS and were all sold out! I loved the performance and am very grateful to the Argaman project for this opportunity."
September and October, 2016 - Haifa
On September 15th, our excellent moderator Michael had us read selections from Adam Ehrlich Sachs "Inherited Disorders"
and Franck Pavloff’s "Brown Morning." These stories caused heated debate about the values that are taught in schools and the power of individuals against the political machine.
The topic was very important for everyone and no one was left indifferent.
On October 25th, we read sections from Efraim Sevela’s “Judgement Day” about Jewish people in New York. We discussed many philosophical issues, about the book, about our connection to Israel. The conversation was very lively, with everyone contributing their points of view.
August 18, Jerusalem
This was the first time I drew in many years and it was a most relaxing and informative evening! The artist Alex spoke first about characters and scenes from the First Aliya, and then we tried our hand at drawing them, in a humorous way. He also shared some of the characters that he created for the many children's books that he has illustrated in Russia and Israel. Thank you for this opportunity to work on my creativity, which I usually do not make time for!.
May 24, 2016 - Tel Aviv
We had a professional games expert run this evening and it was crowded!
He introduced new board games and their rules and also talked about how game logic and strategy can help us in our daily lives.
A fun and interesting night with great company !
March 23, 2016, Haifa
We celebrated Purim with people from the Hadar community, including children and grandparents- and everyone wearing costumes! We heard Megillat Esther, danced to the live music, ate snacks and then our group went outside to do icebreakers and spend good time together. The rabbi said it’s a mitzvah for Jews to be together on Purim – I’m glad that I have new friends in Haifa to do this with!
January 9, 2016 - Tel Aviv
What an intriguing tour of the new Palmach Museum in North Tel Aviv – everything was multimedia and brought to life the personal stories of heroic Palmach fighters against the British Mandate and the war for Israel’s Independence. We were part of their struggles and their history; we learned about the fallen members of the Palmach. Thanks to Shishi Shabbat for this unique opportunity - I feel lucky to have visited this place!
December 21, 2015, Jerusalem
Until this tour with Dima, I never thought much about the significance of the Tenth of Tevet which marks the beginning of the siege on Jerusalem during Temple times, but is also Kaddish Day for the victims of the Holocaust. We started at the Menachem Begin Center, which is also the archeological site where First Temple tombs of Priests were discovered in 1979, including silver amulets containing the "Priestly Blessing" - the oldest Biblical texts ever found (from around 700 BCE)!
In Yemin Moshe we saw the aqueduct that brought water to the Temple, learned about the history of the Old City Walls and then visited King David's tomb - the author of the Psalms and whose son built the First Temple! We went to the small Holocaust museum in the Old City and said Kaddish there for European Jewry and the victims of the Holocaust.
Those of us who were not too cold or tired finished this amazing tour at the Kotel, the holy place at the foot of the two Temples. Thank you Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli for another enriching opportunity to learn about Jewish history with our feet!
November 9, 2015 - Tel Aviv
Our excellent guide Zeev Volk took a large group of new olim and regular members of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli who I already knew for a fascinating three hour night tour of old and new attractions in Tel Aviv. The Templer settlement of Sarona was founded in 1871 during the Ottoman Empire and is one of the first modern agricultural settlements in Palestine. It became a model for the Jewish pioneers. During WWII many of the Sarona residents sided with Germany. When the State of Israel was founded, some of the buildings in Sarona were turned into Israel’s main defense compound – known as the Kirya today. Thank you for helping us understand the amazing history of our city, Tel Aviv!
Hevron: From the First Jewish Family to Modern Day – October 19, Haifa
We enjoyed a great lecture with R. Daniel Rabkin about Hebron, one of the oldest cities on earth and the first Jewish capital. Thirty-six centuries ago this city’s fate became intertwined with the fate of the Jewish people. Abraham bought the field and the cave of Machpelah (where according to rabbinic legend, Adam and Eve were buried) to bury his wife Sarah and later Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.. We also learned about modern history in the city – the discovery of the “double caves” and many mysteries that have not yet been uncovered.
Jewish Coaching Workshop – October 29, Haifa.
Psychologist and Coacher Dan Mirjafarov led a wonderful workshop where we tried to understand ourselves better by looking into the past and seeing if our lives were moving in the right direction, according to each person’s unique role in this world. The participants all wanted these sessions to continue so I hope they will!
July 30, 2015
This was my first hike with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli – the people and guide were great, and the weather and full moon were perfect, even romantic! We hiked in the middle of the night to a Crusader Period fortress on a hill called Beit Itav, which provided a magnificent panorama of Gush Dan, Beit Shemesh and Gush Etzion. Inside a cave, David told us why we celebrate Tu B’Av and read stories from the Tanach and descriptions from the Talmud of the holiday. We sat down for a big bonfire next to a well nearby – everyone gathered wood, wrapped potatoes and onions, cooked hot dogs and marshmallows, sang and rested in nature until close to dawn, when we hiked back to the bus. This was a great break from my work schedule and I look forward to more events with this excellent group. Thank you!
June 12, 2015, Judean Hills
This tasty trip we traveled to Sde Calev, Carmel and Avigail in the Hebron Hills to rocky desert soil where nothing grows just like that. But we saw incredible agriculture, beginning with huge orchards of cherry trees of ten varieties of tastes and colors – from light yellow to deep burgundy. The owner told us how they planted the first seedlings (brought from the Crimea!) and how they care for the trees, especially during the Shmita year. After stuffing our bellies and bags with cherries, we continued on to the Kedem herbal factory in Carmel, where the desert has inspired the best cosmetics and eco-friendly teas. It turns out that the desert offers numerous varieties of plants with healing properties for many illnesses, wounds and even weight loss! But the sweetest part awaited for us at the end, in Avigail, where we were received very warmly, learned about life in this region and tasted delicious natural honey from Hebron flowers. Overall, the trip was full of pleasant experiences and we await the next one!
May 10, 2015 - Jerusalem
70 Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli volunteers
Our members have become close with many Russian-speaking Holocaust Survivors and WWII Veterans, through our Veteran home visitation program and special Operations on Chanuka and Purim. This year we again assisted the Veterans who participated in the Victory Day festivities, sponsored by the Jerusalem Municipality.
Our long-time activist Inna Cherepova represented us again beautifully on Channel 9 television before the Parade:
A summary from another participant:
I was at the Jerusalem Victory Parade today in City Hall. Hundreds of people came to show their support and say thank you. I saw whole classes from schools, parents who brought young children ... The Veterans in the crowd received many hugs and flowers, tears welled up in their eyes and they seemed bewildered and moved by the attention from all the people around.
It seemed that there were more old women veteran, then men. There were young Israeli soldiers who led their Veteran grandfathers by the arm. There were nuns in the procession, Russian-speaking haredim, and Veterans from different cities, even from Eilat .... Passers-by reacted in different ways, some smiled and joined the procession, others didn’t like the road closures. I saw a father explaining to his young daughter in English what she was seeing.
Once all the Veterans found their chairs, everyone stood to sing Hatikvah, and then sat down for the speeches and ceremony. I left for work, with tears in my eyes, and thinking about the many photos of the veterans that I have seen and how few are still alive today. I am glad I was able to talk to some of these living witnesses and say thank you.
March 27th, 2015, Technion, Haifa
I spent last Friday with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli Haifa, on a great trip to the Technion. The Technion is considered to be one of the best universities in Israel. It it is situated in the most lovely place – like a small town, in the big city Haifa. Students have their own restaurants, coffee shops, storesa, barbershop, bank and even synagogue! Each department is situated in separated building. Our guide Misha, an alumnus of the Technion, told us interesting facts about student life and took us to the forest with lake and fish that is in the middle of the university! We said there together the blessing for blossoming fruit trees (birkat hailanot) which I never said before. After this trip, I think it is cool to be a student of the Technion!
Tuesday February 3, 2015, Jerusalem
Since this was my first experience of a Tu B'Shvat Seder, everything was new. The atmosphere was warm and everyone was focused on the holiday. Refreshments were plentiful - all the most beautiful fruits and nuts of Israel! I never knew about each of these fruits and their symbolism. The man who led the Seder also played clarinet and Israeli songs which was nice. The end was fun, when we made fruit scene creations and met all the people at our table. And then we all cleaned up together. Overall a great evening with diversity, good music and I really enjoyed it. Thank you!
Thursday, December 18, 2014
In celebration of 25 years of aliyah from the FSU, the Ministry of Absorption provided Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli with 30 discounted tickets and transportation to see the Dybbuk, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s classic story, performed by Gesher Theater company in Tel Aviv. This was by far the most riveting and professional theater performance that we have seen together as a group, and the participants were very grateful for the opportunity to see this play and participate in the festivities.
Jerusalem, October 2
Erev Yom Kippur – a special time. Slichot, kapparot – important traditions for the Jewish people. As we saw via the Facebook messages in our group, most members were not familiar with these traditions. We were very happy that Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli organized an opportunity to explore these mysterious traditions and taste the atmosphere of the “Yamim HaNoraim”. Along with our excellent guide, Alex Maimon, we ventured into the religious neighborhoods of Jerusalem, participated in the kapparot ceremony (with chickens – we learned it can also be done with money for tzedaka!) and in the end walked to the Kotel. Actually, it was impossible to get to the Kotel because of the huge crowds of people. I never before saw such a gathering of Jews from everywhere who came to pray. It left me with very strong impressions, something beyond normal time and reality! Someone who wasn’t there won’t understand this. A sweet New Year to all of Am Yisrael!
I am so grateful to the organizers of the Siyur Slichot before Yom Kippur. I enjoyed every moment of the special atmosphere of Jerusalem at night during the Yam HaNoraim – like no other time of the year! I had the feeling that I met the entire Jewish People on the way to the Kotel that evening – so many different faces! The route that we walked that night was completely unfamiliar to me . I am used to walking down Jaffa Road to the Old City and never considered walking through religious neighborhoods. Our amazing guide, Alex, told us the history of all the houses and yards in these neighborhoods (I remember especially the story of the Lemmel School with the clock with Hebrew letters instead of numbers – like in Prague!) and I feel like I discovered and learned so much in one night. I was not tired at all, even though we finished at 1 a.m. Tours like this fill me with so much spirituality and the feeling that “I am a part” - of our history and our heritage.
Monday, August 18th, Jerusalem
This was the fourth and perhaps best production of Mikro Theatre that we have enjoyed as a group together. Mikro is a talented troupe of Russian and Israeli-born actors, whose performances are accompanied by live music and Russian subtitles. Per usual, the actors and director stayed afterwards to discuss the play with the group. “King Solomon’s Fears” is based on a novel by French Jewish author Emile Adjar – about an elderly millionaire’s struggle against death and loneliness, and a love story between a young French woman and a Jewish immigrant during the Nazi conquest of Paris.
Sde Boker and Avdat, Friday, July 4 2014
«This past Friday I participated in an enriching Negev trip with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. We began by visiting David Ben Gurion’s desert home in Sde Boker, preserved for visitors exactly as he left it when he died in 1973. He and his wife Paula moved there in 1953 after he resigned from office, practicing what he preached. It was interesting to see his kitchen, his books and photos (Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Plato, Mahatma Ghandi) – and typed quotes that inspired him – like from the prophet Isaiah about the desert becoming filled one day with water and flowers. There was also an exhibit of all agriculture and innovation that has developed in the Negev since Ben Gurion’s time, but I think most of his dream is still yet to be fulfilled.
After Sde Boker we visited the Avdat National Park, one of the best preserved Nabatean cities in Israel – we climbed through caves, saw water cisterns, a Roman bathhouse and an interesting movie about the Spice Route which the city was built upon. We also hiked in Ein Avdat, a beautiful nature reserve with reservoirs of water even in the summer time. It was a hot day but it was great to be with everyone. Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli really helps olim like me to connect to our “Israeliness” - to the country, to our traditions. The guides are always excellent and give us their all. Thanks for another fantastic day.»
May 6th, 2014, Neve Daniel
I was so happy to see in the advertisment for this day that we were going to places I had never been – Ancient Susiya and Hebron. I have traveled many places with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli but I find every new place we go to exciting and intriquing! How much history can we find in one small piece of earth? We were in Susiya about 2 hours – an archeological site with remnants of living quarters, mikvahs, burial caves and caves for hiding (which we climbed through and enjoyed tremendously), but I loved most of all the big synagogue with the beautiful mosaic. In such places you feel proud to be part of a People that survived so much – and to this day, it is hard to understand this secret – that we are thriving still today!! After Susiya we traveled to the Machpela Cave. It always bothered me that I had never visited there before. Some of my friends say that it is a place only religious people go to but I never felt that way. Yaakov Tavger guided us in Hebron – his family was among the first to move to the area after the Six Day War. His father Ben Tzion was a famous refusenik and physics professor who dedicated many years to restoring the ancient cemetery and Avraham Avinu synagogue in Hebron. Yaakov’s explanations were fascinating because he had experienced these stories first hand! Finally we arrived at the house that excels in welcoming guests – Linda and Ze’ev’s home in Neve Daniel. This was the third Yom HaAtzmaut that I spent at their house, and each time I am amazed by the warm atmosphere! A place that welcomes you without any preconditions. That day left me with such positive energy because how often can one travel to such enriching places and then enjoy barbeque and singing and quiz games with such amazing company. Thank you to all the people who contributed to this amazing Independence Day!
Monday, March 17
Our late-night Purim festivities did not deter a group of young volunteers from showing up in costume in the lobby of Shaarei Tzedek hospital at 11 a.m. on Purim morning, equipped with guitars and bags of beautiful mishlochei manot. Two of the volunteers, Orit and Tali, prepared and laminated "Happy Purim" Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli key rings and bought crosswords for the adults and Purim coloring pages and markers for the children. We broke into small groups and spread out onto several floors. We asked patients of all ages which songs they enjoyed and we sang and talked with them. We even met a real live Mordechai, from Argentina, who put his elderly wife on speaker on his cellphone so she too, could sing with us from home.
Thursday, January 30, Tel Aviv
«On January 30, 2014, one of our favorite Ukrainian rock groups, Okean Elzi, came to Israel. Altogether 65 people from Shishi Shabbat YIsrael spent this concert together - a wonderful, professional show in Hangar 11 in the port of Tel Aviv. It did not matter that we were from so many different countries - Russia, Ukraine, Belorus or Turkmenistan. We sang with them in Ukrainian even if we didnt really understand the words, which most of us knew by heart. Two and half hours of energy and unbeliveble fun!»
January 22, 2018
Tel Aviv is not just beaches, cafes and business centers. It is a city with a very interesting history. In early January, the participants of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli explored several interconnected neighborhoods with our guide-Pavel Bernstein. We visited the main places in Jaffa including the famous Jaffa-orange tree.
We went to the American colony and learned about the first American settlers. We then learned the history of the old train station in Jaffa, from which in 1892 the first train in Eretz Yisrael traveled from Jaffa to Jerusalem. We toured Neve Tzedek and got acquainted with the history and people who founded this quarter. The history of these places is so multifaceted that, after immersing yourself in it, each time you come out with something new.
November 9, 2017 Tel Aviv
Adv. Oleg Slobotsky led an important presentation on apartment rentals and many secrets of the real estate market in Israel, including illegal aspects that olim should know to identify and avoid. He discussion legislation in Israel on rental agreements that is meant to protect the renters and also the owners. The room was completely full for this lecture because this is something that affects the finances of all new olim. The lecturer gave many helpful suggestions in answer to the participants’ questions.
August 3rd, Jerusalem Theater, Mikro Theater Company
"Herzlmania" and meeting with Efim Rinenberg
We started the evening with the play "Herzlmania" based on Theodor Herzl's diaries, and even more on his thoughts and feelings. It was an amazing production with the real atmosphere of his life - very deep, humorous, and interesting.
After the performance we met Efim Rinenberg – the author, director and the leading actor who played Theodore Herzl. Efim told the story of discovering the diaries and deciding to create the play with 2 friends- the musician and the artist who both performed onstage with him. He loved performing the role because he was expressing his own thoughts and behaviours which are not so far from Herzl’s.
I really loved the play. Compared to other Israeli theatres that I have visited, this was unexpectedly amazing – on a very high level, close to biggest theatres in Moscow
It was a great opportunity to see the play through the eyes of the creator. The meeting with Efim Rinenberg added so much depth to the performance!
August 24th, Klezmer Music Festival, Tzefat
We took a full busload of Argaman participants (plus others who met us in cars) from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem and traveled to Tzefat, arriving in the evening. Our guide Shraga Shmiller showed us many of the magical and spiritual places in the Old City of Tzefat and shared its history and stories, also about its current residents and city projects. We finished in Shraga's studio and discovered that he is an exceptional artist, whose paintings are inspired by his religious life in Tzefat and Kabbalah.
Afterwards we dispersed into small groups to explore the performances of the Kleizmer Festival, including Avraham Tal, taste the local homemade dishes among the many foodstands, and just wander in the special festive atmosphere. A beautiful evening which most of us would not have experienced without this organized trip.
On March 9th approximately, Game Master Pavel Pivorova brought 24 different table games to our Tel Aviv activity center in Maze 9, and divided participants into several groups. After one hour of intensive playing and meeting new friends, the players switched places to get acquainted with new members. There is great demand for these monthly stimulating and relaxing breaks from regular work-study routines.
Yavne and Hirbet Midras, March 3, 2017
So those of who were not too lazy to get up early on a foggy morning (a whole busload!) had the privilege of getting to know some wonderful long-eared water buffalo!
They were friendly, licked our hands with their slobbery rough tongue, and loudly resented if we entered their territory. We tasted and learned about making delicious buffalo yoghurt, cheeses, and milk.
And then we climbed the caves in Hirbet Midras with our great guide Alex, breathed the fresh wind and smelled all the blooming anemones and other flowers.
A special thank you to the organizers for these brilliant ideas and this tension-free, beautiful and tasty Friday excursion!
Israel Museum, December 7, 2016 - Jerusalem
On December 7th, over 40 people from the Argaman Project enjoyed a two-hour guided tour of the Israel Museum with an amazing guide, Sophie Gumon, originally from St. Petersburg
During the first hour we saw the most important archeological finds, discussed the history of the costumes and traditions of different Jewish communities around the world, and visited four synagogues, beautiful reproduced and renewed in the new Museum building. The second hour was dedicated to the main themes of modern Israeli art – from 1948 to today. We discussed how is the art is deeply connected with the waves of Aliya and the social & political backdrop of Israel.
Thanks for arranging this guided tour of the Israel Museum. It was very interesting and made me think about my own connection to these topics. A lot of ritual objects and themes of Israeli Art became more clear! We all were tired after work, but wanted to stay longer and see even more.
September and October, 2016 - Haifa and Tel Aviv
On September 9th the artist Olga Yerushalmi taught a Master Class on Still Life with a Book in Tel Aviv Olim Hub. We discussed the centrality of books and learning in Jewish culture. Although we had learned to draw still life with different objects, this wasn't easy. Olga taught us different techniques on how to make the form and paint with watercolour step by step.
On September 29th Edward Shwartzman, a professional artist from Tashkent who works in studios in Tel Aviv, taught a Master Class in Haifa on the portrait of King David and his similarity to modern people. He spoke about art as something that comes from the heart. One of the participants became a model which made the lesson more alive, and everybody worked hard and took home their own portrait!
October 30th, Edward Shwartzman taught the art of biblical portaits in Tel Aviv. He showed us how to draw a face with soft pastel on regular A3 paper, and this time I became the model for them!
June 28th, 2016 - Tel Aviv
Lurkmore is one of the most popular Russian-language online encyclopedias of Internet subcultures, folklore, and intellectual entertainment. It is not only a brilliant and informative internet resource but a reflection of our generation - the generation of the late '70s, mid-80s who witnessed the collapse of communist ideology and also the collapse of the liberal ideology that replaced it. My school memory is of history textbooks being rewritten 4 times. The result of such moral, ideological somersaults is our incredibly cynical generation where nothing is sacred. Lurkmore was the quintessence of our generation.
When I learned that the sweeping wave of Russian censorship closed this resource, I was not surprised. I was surprised to find out that the founder of Lurkmore is one of "ours" - Dmitri David Homakom . This meeting with Dmitri and also hearing about his aliyah was amazing. Good luck to David in his continuing fight against the inadequate Goliath! And thank you for an interesting evening!
May 24, 2016 Haifa
There were many participants in this Games Night – we didn’t have enough tables! Most of our participants are both working and studying, and love this monthly event where they can completely relax and meet new friends. There was a much bigger selection of games this time, so everyone could find something they liked.
March 11-12, 2016, Ohalo Manor, Kinneret
I want to thank you from the depths of my heart for this enriching, moving and interesting seminar! I enjoyed every moment – the spectacular views above Mitzpe Nefufa, the Japanese gardens in Heftziba (the Makoya who love Israel), Kabbalat Shabbat full of songs and good spirit, learning about Persia and Purim, the icebreakers, the archeological tour with Ira, the hike with Zeev on the Kinneret, the singing during Oneg Shabbat, the amazing food, the joyful and moving Havdala, and the chance to be with people I love and meet new friends! You are like my family and I always look forward to being with you! Thank you for all the knowledge and spirituality in everything you do for us! The lectures, the values and the simcha! I returned home from this seminar so full of new strength and positive energy! Purim Sameach!
January 7, 2016
In collaboration with the Tel Aviv Municipality, we enjoyed a very lively discussion with Prof. Zeev Magen on Iran, developments in the Muslim world and the relationship between Islam, Israel and the Jewish People. About 40 people attend the lecture and asked many questions, also connected with Islamic terror on our streets in recent months and Israel’s response.
December 2015, Beit Avichai, Jerusalem
Our fifth meeting on the subject of Israeli Literature was with the author Alice Bielski, whose novels describe life in the Soviet Union during the 1980’s and the experiences of a young Jewish girl in elite, cultural Moscow society during that period. The author sees this as important background to understand the mentality of Russian-speaking Jews living in Israel today. Our discussion with Alice continued well beyond the allotted 2 hours – this meeting was fascinating.
We concluded the Argaman Literature series with a tour of the National Library of Israel in Hebrew University, Givat Ram. We visited the main four collections of the Library, including the Jewish music library (equipped with earphones and thousands of digital recordings) and the Kabbala and Chassidut Library donated by Gershom Sholem. We also saw a rare exhibit of old maps of Eretz Yisrael and many ancient manuscripts. We discovered that the National Libray holds cultural events throughout the year to expose the public to its treasures, and that most of the 7 million (!) items stored there (including daily copies of Jewish or Hebrew newspapers and magazines from around the world) can be downloaded for free online.
November 10, 2105 - Tel Aviv
Many new olim have joined our Tel Aviv chapter in recent months, so we asked our good friend Advocate Vagif Aliev, a veteran member of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli, to provide a workshop on consumer and employment rights to help them succeed. It was a very important discussion, full of excellent advice and practical examples, and participants asked many questions afterwards. Vagif is always available to help members of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli – we all agree that it is good to have friends like this in Israel!
October 15, Tel Aviv
We were lucky to have Adv. Ariel Bulshtein provide an exclusive guided tour of the Jabotinsky Museum for Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli last Thursday evening. Ariel is a political activist and political scientist and also a member of the Board of Directors of the Jabotinsky Institute. He shared with us a detailed account of Ze’ev Vladimir Jabotinsky’s life, including his founding of the Jewish Legion, the Betar Movement and Etzel. We watched several short films of Jabotinsky describing immigration to Israel at the beginning of the century and saw unusual exhibits of the museum, including many rare documents and daily objects used by both Jabotinsky and his associates. At the end we asked many questions, particularly about Jabotinsky’s role in illegal immigration during the 1930s-40s.
Two Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli babies were born in July. Mazal Tov to the expanding Mazurevich and Emmanuel- Moore families! I had the privelege of driving the latter baby girl from Hadassah hospital in Ein Karem to her home in Pisgat Zeev, Jerusalem. Her dad, Konstantin, from St. Petersburg, and mom, Victoria from Buchara, met through our activities and were married in a very joyous Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli wedding just over a year ago! Here’s to the continued ingathering of our People to Israel and to many more “smachot” together...
June 18, 2015
This was our first Haifa Quest with Shishi Shabbat Yisrael! The quest was attended by over 30 people. We ran through Haifa, answering questions about the city’s history, finding clues, doing strange exercises like origami and participating in a mysterious encrypted photo contest. This was followed by a delicious buffet where we ate, drank, watched photos from the Quest and talked about future plans for our group. It was great fun and we look forward to our next summer event in Haifa!
May 10, 2015, Efrat
On the evening of Victory Day, our volunteers came by bus and car from Jerusalem to be with the Veterans’ club of Gush Etzion in Efrat. About 15 Russian-speaking seniors from the area sang with us old Russian songs and newer Israeli songs and shared their stories. It was a moving and enjoyable evening for everyone.
March 19th, 2015 - Beit Kehillot, Jerusalem
Igor Guberman is one of the most celebrated Russian-Jewish writers and poets of our time. His witty poems and the tragic-comic reality that they describe have gained him international acclaim. That is why I was very excited to attend an evening with him, organized by Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli.
Actually, the meeting was the initiative of Igor’s good friend, Yaakov Blumin, an elderly WWII Veteran whom Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli volunteers have been visiting for the past two years. It was wonderful meeting him in person and hearing about his life, also since his aliya to Jerusalem in 1987. He gave us advice, answered many questions, and read from his poems. We could have listened to him all night. He took pictures with all of us, autographed our books. What a warm person and rare poet.
Friday, 30, 2015
We organized our first Kabbalat Shabbat, together with the Chabad House for Russian speakers in Haifa. We met at 4 p.m. and did a short tour of the synagogue with explanations, and then lit candles together at 4:40. Our facilitators organized some icebreakers and Alexei gave a short talk with large color pictures about different synagogues around the world.
Alexei and Tanya then led a short but meaningful Kabbalat Shabbat service – We sang Lecha Dodi, heard a story about Shema and read parts of it together, sang Oseh Shalom. Afterwards we enjoyed refreshments together after singing Shalom Aleichem, saying Kiddush –We finished with a Café Midrash on leaving Egypt – based on Parshat HaShavua - Beshalach. Everyone enjoyed Kabbalat Shabbat together, and I hope we can organize these once a month.
Chanuka, December 17, 2014, Jerusalem
90 Volunteers, 150 WWII Veterans and Holocaust Survivors
For the third consecutive year, young volunteers from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli brought warmth and light into the homes of 150 isolated Russian-speaking Holocaust Survivors and WWII Veterans in the Jerusalem area. Operation Light Up!, as this annual campaign is called, was tremendously moving for both the volunteers and their elderly recipients. On the third night of Chanukah, volunteers from all over Israel – including students, Masa participants, and soldiers straight from their bases, - gathered to light the Chanukiah together in Beit Kehillot Olim in the center of Jerusalem, were briefed regarding their visits with the elderly Veteran and Survivors, and received abundant gift baskets of food which they themselves had raised money for to bring to their elderly hosts. They traveled to the various addresses via train, private car, or buses provided by the Jerusalem Municipality, lit candles with the Survivors (average age 90!) and afterwards spent time with them, listening to their stories.
The following is a translated excerpt of one of several articles about the project in the Russian-speaking press in Israel: http://9tv.co.il/news/2014/12/19/192601.html
«Participation in Operation Light Up! helps each volunteer connect with their personal history, to feel a greater sense of ownership regarding what is happening in Israel today, and most importantly - to do something important and necessary for the public good, »- said Ilya Lipetsker, initiator of the project.
«A few days before the operation, we phoned all the Veterans and Survivors» - says volunteer and participant Valery Daniel Karasik. «Their reactions were all different. But most said «Why do I deserve such gifts? The main thing is your visit and attention. Thank you!»
«Most of all we were fascinated by our conversation with a 96-year-old man named Gregory Zlotnikov. He had a very hard life, having gone through the war and lost all of his relatives,» says Dmitry Mohyla another volunteer. «He has a childlike smile and the brightest eyes, a former Muscovite and teacher of Russian language and literature. His wife of 60 years died six months ago. Gregory has grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a sound mind and memory. He has tremendous optimism, but for some reason he lives alone in a hostel and was so grateful for our visit. We got a lot of pleasure from talking to him and promised to return. »
I visited Yuri Zelnick, age 91 (though he much younger. He was 17 when he fought against the Nazis. As he lit candles he explained that he came to Israel even though he has no family here, because he is a Cohen. He then produced an extraordinary family portrait from 1929 from Voronezh, where he, a small boy, is surrounded by an entire large family of Cohanim. He is the only one left.
Jerusalem, October 14, 2014
Continuing our Hoshana Raba tradition from the past two years, we organized along with the Zionist Midrasha another exciting all-night study event with 9 different facilitators. Our guest speaker was Ezra Yachin, former Lechi fighter and builder of Jerusalem, who presented a riveting talk about his life story. Other topics included social aspects of the Sabbatical Year (Shmita), mystical approaches to the holidays, relationships, a workshop on joy (particularly for Sukkot) , and even a current events session on Hamas and Operation Protective Edge. After all the sessions, at 5 a.m., our guide led a dawn hike to the Kotel - a beautiful way to end a moving night of learning and community.
Vagif Aliev - Jerusalem, Monday July 14
«As those of us who attend Shishi Shabbat seminars know, Advocate Vagif Aliev is a true master of his craft. We saw this once again tonight, during his lecture for new olim on consumer rights in Israel (those of us who missed his lecture in Ramat Gan were able to catch up on all this important information in Jerusalem). It is understatement to say that we learned a lot - and I certainly feel more confident now that I won't be taken advantage of in my daily purchases and decisions. Thanks very much to Vagif for the valuable "weapons" that he put at our disposal!»
May 9, 2014, Jerusalem
This year as in previous years, about 20 of us volunteered during the celebration of 69 years since our victory over the Nazis. Today was the traditional Victory Parade in Jerusalem, but because of the poor weather, all the events were transferred to the buildings in City Hall. A great orchestra greeted all the veterans, who, despite their age, were in a cheerful mood, wearing all of their medals. This was important for me and I want to say thank you to our dear veterans for this victory. There were many speeches but the main message was that their bravery contributed to the creation of the State of Israel. This is something that other Israelis don’t seem to know. When I asked three people on the street about this (an immigrant from Canada, an ultra-Orthodox Jew and a falafel man) they did not understand why all the fuss and why the veterans wore so many medals!
I want to wish all our dear veterans long life and good health, until our next Veterans Day.
Jerusalem, March 30
One of our members, Ora S.. works for a German-language newspaper in Jerusalem, which was interested in making a monetary donation to Holocaust Survivors in the capital before Passover. Given our ongoing work with Russian-speaking WWII Veterans and Survivors, we were able to provide an accurate list of Survivors to Ora before the deadline - and each Survivor received this valuable monetery assistance before the Pesach holiday.
Tuesday, February 5th, Jerusalem
About a dozen volunteers ran Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli's exciting booth at this year's Fair, attended by over 1000 young Birthright participants from all over the FSU. Wearing our new signature t-shirts, we distributed pocket-size Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli calendars containing dates of the Jewish holidays and encouraged these student-age Russian-speaking Jews to return to Israel soon - on a program or on aliyah - and join our warm and dynamic young community. Our amazing members again proved to be Israel's best emissaries...
December 12, 2017 - Haifa
This Quest was dedicated solely to themes of Chanuka and was very interesting and exciting. Each person had his/her own role to play and dilemmas to solve, with the help of their teammates. We lit the first candle of Chanuka together and enjoyed drinks and sufganiyot. A festive and great way to begin this holiday.
August 24, 2017, Tel Aviv
How do I know who is my “second half”? Why are we often attracted to people who are not attracted to us? Where does the magic of the first meeting go? How do we keep love strong over the years? These are some of the questions we discussed in this excellent workshop on relationships and Jewish family with the psychologist Leah. There was great demand for future workshops with her on the topic of men and women and building successful relationships.
Tel Aviv, April 6, 2017
Based on the interest of our members in this topic, which they constantly read about in the media, I invited specialist Alex Elman to discuss the rights of Jews and Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Alex provided an in-depth history of these areas, from Biblical to modern times, and answered many questions about current suggestions among lawmakers regarding the status of these areas, the implications of applying Israeli sovereignty, demographic trends among Jews and Arabs and other issues.
beginning Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - Jerusalem
Last night was our first time studying advanced Hebrew together, in two courses in Beit Kehillot in Jerusalem.
The first class was Business Hebrew, where we learn professional vocabulary and practice written correspondence and oral conversation for interviews etc.which I hope will help me at my work and make me more competitive in the Israeli job market. Then we read together a story by Etgar Keret which taught us literary Hebrew, slang, idioms and new words and how to better express our ideas about Hebrew. This was very interesting and useful. Thank you to the organizers of these courses.
Messianism in Jewish History, November 30, December 14 & 21, 2106 - Jerusalem
“Dr. Michael Tuval’s lecture on Messianic movements during the Second Temple Period – from the Hasmoneans through Bar Kochba – encouraged much debate regarding his approach (that national crises led to belief that Redemption was near). But such lectures ensure that our brains don’t get rusty! Dr. Eliezer Shargoroski brought inspiring texts on Uri Elitzur’s and Rav Kook’s understanding of of Zionism and the role of both secular and religious Jews in creating this new stage in Jewish history.”
“As part of the JGalaxy Project, Dr. Ilya Lurie introduced us to such historical figures as Shabtai Zvi and Jacob Frank and the Sabbatian movement. He immersed us in the days of the 17th century, during which most Jewish communities were swept up in an extremely heretical direction. The lecture was full of historic moments with references to primary sources, and lasted an hour later than the specified time, indicating the interest of the project participants and the success of these lectures.”
September 27, 2016 - Jerusalem
This was a great gathering of good friends and fun, interesting activities to welcome in the New Year 5777! Lena challenged us with logic questions about the holidays, and the Jewish calendar and customs. Our team did not win but we had a lot of laughs. The apples, honey, wine, sushi and toasts from everyone were the best way to start this year. I always miss my family around holidays - Thank you Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli but for being here to bring us together.
July 8, 2016 - Tel Aviv
Tonight was an excellent tour of the Bialik Museum in Tel Aviv which was recently renovated. The house is magnificent, with beautiful mosaics on the first floor.
Chaim Nachman Bialik was Israel’s national poet – we heard his nursery rhymes which became songs known by all Israeli children. We read from some of his famous works (his translation of The Dybbuk, The Book of Legends, and other classics), and also saw his correspondence with other writers and with Theodor Herzl. Thank you for this fascinating tour!
May 31, 2016
We had eleven teams of Haifa olim competing for prizes – there was fun in the air and tense debate. The quiz clues were challenging and connected to all the current holidays - Lag B'Omer, Jerusalem Day, and Shavuot – and also to the city of Haifa.
In the end we finished as friends and everyone thanked us for this entertaining and enlightening evening!
December 29-30, Maccabim
A short story about our Chanuka seminar with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli! We started out on Friday in a Hasmonean village, learning how the Maccabees minted coins, prepared olive oil, instruments, food, and clothing. We then set off to solve an interesting puzzle – where is the real burial site of the Maccabees? We hiked from place to place in the area of Modiin, looking for several signs according to the Book of Maccabees – 6 burial plots (Mattityahu and his sons) , a pyramid-shaped roof, a view of the sea etc. Finally David took us to a place overlooking the Arab village of El Media where archeologists believe the real burial site is located. But we must wait to visit there.... In the hotel we lit Chanuka candles and sang kabbalat shabbat songs, learned new things about the Menorah, the song Maoz Tzur, and got to know one another through amusing and interesting games all connected with Chanuka. It was the warm feeling of family on the holidays – thank you to all the organizers!
December 18, 2015 - Tel Aviv
Thank you Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli for this excellent tour of Beit Hatefutsot! It was cold and rainy but I am glad I made the effort to go. I learned about the history of the Jews in different places around the world, and the Jewish traditions that helped us survive as a nation for 2000 years! We saw the paintings of Eliyah Eric Bokobza on Jewish identity (difficult but thought-provoking) and a movie about the Soviet Jewish film director Mikhail Kalik. We talked a lot about the problems of anti-Semitism throughout the ages which Jews still must deal with today but in different forms. I definitely want to come back for a second visit to this museum.
October 3-4, 2015, Jerusalem
This was my second all-night learning experience for Hoshana Raba with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. Although we live in Israel where everyone knows everyone, and we are surrounded by remarkable people, it is still not every day that we meet Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann. He gave an excellent and relevant talk about game theory and active deterrence as the only path towards achieving peace anywhere in the world, but particularly in our region. We then had a fascinating discussion with Prof. Evgeny Kantorovich on International law and Israel's borders, which was also so timely and useful for our conversations with people in Israel and around the world.
The beautiful Beit Midrash of Midreshet Lindenbaum was an appropriate place for the Jewish learning that we did afterwards - on Jewish approaches to money throughout the ages and the Sabbatical year, the history and future of the Jewish Diaspora, and many other intriguing topics until 3:00 when we enjoyed a Jewish music concert, danced and sang together. About 30 of us lasted for the dawn hike to the Old City (some with lulav and etrog in hand), which was magical!
Friday, July 24th, 2015
This was the most fascinating tour of Jerusalem that I have ever been on. A four-dimensional perspective – through time, length, width and top to bottom. It was very hot outside but we did not suffer because most of the tour was underground! Our guide Baruch, an archeologist from Hebrew University, was up to date on all the most recent archeological finds in the area. After viewing Jerusalem from the rooftops of the Old City, we visited new excavations next to the Kotel where they found many seals from the First Temple Period (3000 years ago) imprinted with names from the Bible. We walked through the Hasmonean tunnels along the Western Wall with views 18 meters down, showing parts of the Temple Walls through all the periods of history. And then we visited the City of David and walked a half hour through Hezekiah’s Tunnels with cold water up to our hips all the way to the Shiloach Pools, and back to the entrance through an ancient sewer system! Everywhere we went we passed tour groups from all over the world – sometimes we could not hear our own guide speak! This was a meaningful tour for before the 9th of Av when Jerusalem was twice destroyed. By remembering this, and increasing tolerance and love for other Jews, we all participate in its rebuilding!
June 2, 2015
This day was marked in ceremonies throughout Israel, in memory of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in June-July 2014. Our event in Haifa was to remind us of the unity that Israelis and Jews around the world demonstrated during those terrible weeks when we hoped to find the abducted young men alive. We believe and hope that this day of remembrance of unity and tolerance will bring us closer to the land and people of Israel, and will increase our sense of unity throughout the year and throughout the Jewish world. Professor Velvl Chernin of Hebrew University led a moving and interesting discussion on “Our Israel”, which we followed up with games dealing with communication and relationships.
April 16 and 30, 2015, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem
This month we completed our Pilot series of the Argaman Israeli Cultural Project, to the tremendous satisfaction of our participants, based on their written and oral evaluations.
Many thanks to our partners in this unique initiative: the Posen Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group, and Beit Avichai.
Meeting with Roi Chen in Gesher Theater, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, April 16th:
I cannot imagine a better place than Gesher Theatre to hold our unforgettable encounter with the legendary author, playwright and translator Roi Chen. Roi shared with us glimpses into his unusual biography – his decision to delve deeply into Russian language and literature, despite any familial connection with the culture. Our meeting took place in excellent Russian, to all of our amazement. He spoke about Gesher Theater and its Russian olim actors, the interaction between the actors and their audiences and the critical importance of language and all of its cultural nuances. In the end he gave us a tour of the theater, across the stage and through all the rooms behind the scenes. We finished this meeting in a coffee shop next door where Dina gave an overview, including sound bytes, of Israeli music through the years, in preparation for Yom HaAtzmaut. Roi Chen is a perfect example of the power of sheer will. Thank you to everyone for this experience!
Culinary Tour of Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem with Shlomo Cesana, April 30th:
Last Thursday we enjoyed an unusual tour of Machane Yehuda with Shlomo Cesana – a tour guide and author, specializing in Jerusalem, and also the political analyst for the Yisrael Hayom newspaper. The tour focused on the history of the area – beginning with the yeshiva students on Jaffa Road who decided to open fruit and vegetable stores to provide independent sources of food and support for themselves after the Arab riots in the 1920’s –and the fascinating stories of the booth owners in the Shuk (including the musical Banai family and supermarket tycoon Rami Levi), who reflect the history of the city and State through the different periods. Shlomo took us through the surrounding neighborhoods and arranged delicious food samples from booth owners whom he knows well – savory Georgian cheese dishes, Tamarindi drink, meat kubeh and grape leaves...We also briefly visited the burial place of the famous Gurer rebbes – the Sfat Emet and his father – in a pathway right off of Jaffa St. The group discovered new tastes and new places, and tremendously enjoyed this encounter with the unique personalities and history of Machane Yehuda and Jerusalem.
March 20-21, 2015 – Karei Deshe, Kinneret
There is nothing like welcoming the Spring and Pesach with a Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli seminar, and on the Kinneret – as far as we could get from Egypt!
The activities on Friday were perfect – a hike in the green trails and waterfalls of Nachal Ayun, a visit to an ancient Roman city, and then learning how to make beers, liquors and wines from the fruits of Israel in the Amiad Winery. The theme of Shabbat was storytelling, sharing our personal narratives. It was so good to be with everyone – the atmosphere was amazing, per usual. Yehudit’s model building game taught us how important good communication can be and made us think and laugh. The best part of Shabbat was our “Pesach Seder” with David – now the Haggada makes more sense to me and I look forward to spending seder with my friends this year.
February 3, 2015, Matnas Hadar
We organized our Tu B’Shvat Seder with Hadar L’Hadar community in Haifa, headed by Daniel Ravkin.
We began with a fruit carving demonstration by a professional chef and then separated into smaller groups to carve different creations: a swan from an apple, a pear and grape porcupine, banana and kiwi dragon and palm tree, and a mandarin and cucumber butterfly!
During a musical interlude with a professional singer and guitarist, we set the tables for our Seder with wine, fruit and cookies. Then Daniel conducted the Seder, beginning with the history and sources of this custom, using an excellent powerpoint presentation. Our Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli facilitators (Liza, Yana and Natalya) distributed trivia questions about the holiday and general Jewish trivia, which each table had to answer within a few minutes. We had 4 winning teams who received prizes and discounts to our next Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli event in Haifa! This was a very successful event which everyone enjoyed!
28 - October 30 - November 1, 2014 - Haifa and Pekiin
The themes of this Shabbat retreat – Jewish Art, Lech Lecha (like Abraham, drawing closer to ourselves through our aliyah to Israel) and the Druze village of Pekiin! We drove in the pouring rain to Hof Dor, learned about the rediscovery of the source of Techelet (Biblical blue dye) in our generation, and painted scenes of Eretz Yisrael with artist Tatiana on Friday afternoon in a gallery in Haifa. On Shabbat we discussed the relationship between Judaism and art, explored Pekiin and met one of the only two Jews who have come back to live in the village, and participant and tour guide Pavel gave an excellent talk about the treatment of Jews in the Christian and Muslim worlds. Overall a cozy, fascinating Shabbat with new and old friends, in stormy fall weather!
May 16-17, 2014, Kibbutz Hokuk, Kinneret
My name is Anton – I moved to Jerusalem from Russia 10 years ago and recently discovered the group Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli. I feel very connected to all the people. . Last Shabbat I attended my first Shishi Shabbat seminar in the North, near the Kinneret which was amazing. On Friday we got very wet during a hike through the Majdrasa river and then traveled in our bus to the beautiful Kibbutz Hokuk for Shabbat. The theme was Lag Ba’Omer which I knew almost nothing about. We had sessions on Jewish mysticism (David and our guest lecturers explained this very well though it is a complicated topic to understand), and being aware of the “wonders” of our everyday lives, and even the Jewish approach to astrology. We had a lot of small group talks and got to know one another even better. I feel like I go to know 50 new great people. I look forward to discovering more parts of our little country and more about our tradition with Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli! Thank you!
Dead Sea - Thurs-Friday, April 10-11.
We hiked through magnificent desert "wadis" (dried riverbeds) from midnight until 2 a.m. by the light of the 3/4 full moon and then set up camp: we built two bonfires for baking "matza" , prepared bowls of dough and foil-wrapped potatoes and sang together for hours with three talented guitarists. We discussed the meaning of matza (simplicity, humility!), the custom of "separating out dough - "hafrashat challah - , the concept of "Peh-Sach" (finding our voice) and the meaning of true freedom - making choices that ultimately refine ourselves and help us fulfill our unique roles in this world... We returned home after 8 a.m., exhausted but uplifted!
Wed, February 5, Ramat Gan
«For those who were not able to attend Sveta's lecture, I will share my impressions and what she taught us. She ran her discussion in an unpretentious way with many jokes. That helped us focus late in the evening after a long day of work.
Step One towards starting a new, healthy relationship - leave the past in the past, your failures, your fears - begin as if for the first time!
Step Two - know yourself well, your values and goals in life. This includes your needs for spiritual growth.
Step Three - prepare for the new relationship. Read and try to understand what people look for in their partners, like be an excellent listener.
I liked this workshop very much. It is important to understand the psychology of the opposite sex. Most of the people present wanted to continue these workshops with Sveta. Thank you for organizing it - and now we await the continuation.»
February 16, 2018
The spring comes and the Negev Desert is transformed. In dry branches life awakens, shreds of grass are released by arrows of buds, a few anemones with red petals shout "We are here!". All this we met on our way, traveling with a busload of friends from Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli Beersheva, and some from Tel Aviv. The sun was just beginning to warm up the earth. The desert turned to a fog of mist, and we looked for the promised fields of flowers, in our advertisement for this excursion. But the desert had only begun to blossom.
Where else to listen about Zionism, if not in the desert? But for this we had to climb a small mountain to hear a story about the life of our ancestors. We saw the desert as they did many centuries ago. We crossed the riverbeds of dry rivers whose surface was similar to the Moon, looped between the stones and helped each other. The bus waited for us in the man-made park where we saw family picnics and children playing nearby. Leaves of overgrown palm trees trembled, whispering something of their own. In the heated air of the park there was the resinous aroma of pine. The sky was seen through a set of needles, and I found myself missing my native pines. With thanks to Shishi Shabbat YIsraeli and Kivunim Beersheva for this wonderful day!
November 30th, 2017, Haifa
We played board and intellectual games and a hat game led by Igor and Lesha which was challenging and interesting.
These evenings are a good way to wind down after a long day for our participants, and they look forward to meeting new old and new friends there.
August 25, 2017 - Tel Aviv
Our guide Boris Berstovsky took us on an historical journey through the neighborhoods of Neve Tzedek and Rothschild Boulevard. As we walked we learned about the famous people who built the area and the unusual architecture, much of it restored, of the buildings and synagogues that were erected from 1910-1950. We also learned the personal side of the Baron Rothschild and his banking business which helped this popular neighborhood of Tel Aviv flourish.
June - August, 2017
On June 29th, Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli launched a unique five-part lecture and night tour series on our ancient/modern Capitol city leading up to the 9th of Av, in collaboration with the Jerusalem Municipality. Each meeting began with a lecture and photo presentation on the neighborhood to be explored and continued with a night tour in the Old or New City, and was facilitated by a different professional Russian-speaking guide. The tours included neighborhoods in the Old City, Mahane Yehuda, Nahlaot, Musrara, and an exploration into social issues raised in the journalism of early 20th century Jerusalem. About 25 participants took part in each tour, many of them very recent olim.
Jerusalem has been calling me to plunge in deeper since I made aliya, but the fear of uncertainty, or maybe the heat, prevented me from doing so. Therefore, it was great joy to participate in these tours and am grateful to our guides, each so different and excellent for sharing their knowledge and voluminous stories!
Friday, June 16, 2017 - Gush Etzion
Yesterday’s excursion organized by Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli brought me right back to the summers of my childhood!
We began with berry and cherry picking in the shady orchards of the Berry Mountain farm in Gush Etzion. The owner told us about the difficulties but also the rewards of working in agriculture in Israel and gave us all baskets to start picking. Hundreds of people from all over Israel were there with us and there were many different types of berries, just like in Russia. Afterwards we hiked and swam in natural springs nearby. This perfect day ended with a visit to the Gush Etzion winery where we toured their wine-making facility, tasted excellent wines and bought many bottles for Shabbat!
April 2, 2017 - Latrun and Gush Etzion
I want to thank you for this great Yom HaAtzmaut - for your hospitality, for the amazing tour guide Lyon and the interesting way he brought stories to life in Latrun and Herodion in the Judean desert (I was never there before) , for being with the great people of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and other soldiers from Nefesh b’Nefesh. How you opened your yard and hearts and home. The food was delicious. I will never forget this holiday. I came to Israel two years ago and it made me feel good about living in this country. Yom HaAtzamaut sameach! Thank You!
February 10, 2017 -Moshav Tal Shachar
Several months ago, our country suffered a spate of raging fires and arson. It was unbearably painful to see such things. To our great joy Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and the lone soldiers of Nefesh b’Nefesh joined many Israeli families in the experience and unique privilege of planting trees and restoring forests in the Land of Israel!
It was fun to see so many people from all sectors of society - new and veteran immigrants, religious and non-religious, children and elderly taking part in this big national planting party!
After this we visited the Iza Paziza goat farm where we learned how to make goat cheese with our own hands, ate delicious locally grown foods and enjoyed! Thank you very much to Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and all its supporters and participants!
November 29, 2016 - Haifa
There were a lot of smart people who had to answer smart and interesting questions about Jewish and general knowledge during this brain ring evening (based on the Soviet game “What? Where? When? but adapted to Israel).
Thirty five people competed in eight teams, the fight was intense, and the first three winning teams received prizes!
The participants were all happy and definitely love these competitions.
September - October 2016, Jabotinsky Institute, Tel Aviv
This was an excellent, informative series with political expert Adv Ariel Bulstein and interesting guests. We learned a lot of political history – from the founding of the first Knesset (based on the 120 members of the Sanhedrin), the first political parties and the declaration of Independence, to laws that affect us today - the Law of Return and marriage procedures in Israel. Over 80% of Israelis vote which is high compared to other countries. MK Yoel Rosvozov of Yesh Atid spoke about elections and behind the scenes negotiations in the Knesset. We saw a film about Zeev Jabotinsky, discussed the relationship between the media and politics in Israel, and for our last session, met with the head of the Jabotinsky Institute and former Director of the Prime Ministers’ Office, Yossi Achimeir. I would like to see more lectures like these with contemporary political figures.
July 12, 2016 - Haifa
About 40 people came to learn about love and relationships in Judaism from Rav Daniel. Then everyone broke into pairs and discussed important questions. It was a great atmosphere and participants got to know many new people – including what they think and how they feel. We learned how to listen and communicate more effectively which is important in our relationships.
Wednesday, June 8th, Connect Jerusalem
I am not a chef but definitely enjoyed learning how to make rich dairy desserts, which we sampled throughout the evening! A big highlight of tonight was the many new people I met. I went to David ’s lecture because he is a fantastic teacher, but the content was interesting too – the concept of Conversion since the time of Abraham, to Mt. Sinai through Ruth who added the concept of “common destiny”. Many new olim move to Israel, and serve in the army because they feel just that.
Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich’s stories were amazing. I had only heard his name before. He grew up in Riga with no Jewish connection until he was invited to a class in the synagogue one September and was told that today is New Years – Rosh Hashana! He decided Judaism was cool because there was another holiday 10 days later (no matter that you had to fast all day.) These young friends introduced him to Judaism. But his personal connection only happened after they invited him to meet them in a Jewish graveyard many hours from Riga. He couldn’t find them or the graveyard. But then he saw a group of young people in the forest, and they were digging up bones of a mass grave of 28,000 Jews that were killed by Latvians and Nazis in WWII. He felt that some Divine hand brought him to this place. He said “We thought were “helping” the dead by bringing them to proper burial, but the dead actually were helping us meet other young Jews and find our Jewish identities.” He went on to become a Jewish activist, participated in highjacking the plane from Leningrad to Israel in 1970. They didn’t succeed but they gave so many Jewish people hope. And now we live here in complete freedom today. Hearing these stories gives you perspective.
February 25, 2016, Haifa
Our monthly games event was led this time by a professional “Mafia” game facilitator. We also had many different board games, a lot of new people came to meet friends, have a good time, and relax before the weekend. Many of the participants just finished their Masa program and are now settling into Haifa as new olim! We talked about our community activities and other Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli events (like seminars and trips) that they can join.
January 28, Haifa
Our young olim of Haifa have started a monthly tradition of Game Night. Most arrived in Israel over the past year or two, they are all working and studying, and this is their favorite way to relax and meet new friends. Over 30 people played different board games, some intellectual, some humorous, changing tables and making new acquaintances. They continue to attend our Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli events and help our Haifa chapter grow!
December 3, 2015 - Tel Aviv
In collaboration with Maze 9 Young Olim Hub (Tel Aviv municipality), we held an intellectual table game night before Chanuka. We first listened to a lecture about the history of Chanuka and one of the first recorded Jewish games - “sevivonim” (dreidls), which according to the book of Maccabees, the Jews would take out and play with to hide the fact that they were learning Torah when the Greeks came to punish them! We played different intellectual and table games and ate jelly doughnuts and other sweet things.