the summer in Israel continues to heat up, both figuratively and literally,
the cool breezes and crisp air in Safed seem not only miles away, but with
the town's mystical flavor, light years away.
The appeal of travelling
by car to a place that for centuries has drawn the most spiritual and eccentric
Jewish personalities enchants and intrigues.
Lately, as I think about what separates
the men from the boys in the context of bar mitzvah and a boy's coming
of age, I think of tefilin. I had always focused on belonging to
a minyan [quorum], being part of the Jewish men's network, and being
called to the torah for an aliyah. I had always focused on the feeling
of membership within the Jewish world.
For whatever reason, I've begun to
focus inward (on behalf of my son), particularly when I think of Benjamin
becoming a bar mitzvah. What will change for him not only as he contributes
to society, but also as he takes time for himself, as he consciously prepares
he prays in the morning.
As Benjamin continues to learn how
to read his parshatefilin. [Torah portion], we are
focusing on how he can take an active part in making his set of
Which brings us back to the beginning
of my story and the mention of Safed.
We are planning to host a a trip to
the city of Safed during the week of Chanukah. There Benjamin will complete
the writing of his tefilin with a sofer stam [scribe].
So that all our guests can get the feel of the scribe's work, we will invite
our guests to participate in a scribe workshop - complete with pen, ink and
To mark the holiday of lights, we are
considering a second workshop - this time in candlemaking. And to round off
the adventure, we plan to visit the ruins of the Baraam
synagogue which dates from the 3rd Century, and is 10 minutes away from
These are initials thoughts. As our
valued readers, your comments are welcome. Please e-mail us.