The next day (last weekend), all of the Americans, along with Deborah’s family in Jerusalem, met at Kibbutz Lavi in the north of Israel for a family reunion. Kibbutz Lavi is a dairy farm, furniture factory, and hotel in the Galil and was a good base for exploring the area and spending Shabbat. It was the first time that we had all been together since Esther’s wedding in 2001 and at that time only 2 of the 8 grandchildren had been born. Trying to coordinate 17 people is like herding cats, but we did a pretty good job!

We went to the city of Tsfat (Safed) on Fri. morning. Tsfat is located at the peak of one of the hills of the Galilee, near the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and Mt. Hernon (we could sea snow on its peak during the drive). It is famous for 3 aspects of Jewish learning: kabbalah, the compilation of the shulchan aruch, and the scholarship of the Spanish Jews who settled in Tsfat when they fled the Inquisition. It has the oldest printing press in all of Asia from the mid-1500’s to support all of that profound thinking. Currently, Tsfat is known for its hippie-ish, religious community, artists’ quarter, and candle factory (which doesn’t really do justice to the art that is their candle making). The old city seems frozen in time with narrow, winding, cobblestone streets.

Noah & Aunt Roz & Tsfat door

Sophie & Chaya Rachel, Tsfat

HaAri synagogue, Tsfat

Bubbie & Zeidey with almost all of the grandchildren (minus one who was camera-shy)

and Nat makes 8!

On Shabbat, we went on a guided tour of the kibbutz, got up-close & personal with the cows, and learned about the kibbutz’s history. Most noteworthy is that it is a religious kibbutz and that its hotel carries on an ancient tradition of strategically locating a kosher inn at this spot for travelers between Tiberias & Tsfat . Our wing of the hotel was designed very smartly with our rooms all in a row with patios leading out to a grassy area. It was virtually private, which the kids (and Roy & me) took advantage of for a rousing game of soccer (Noah’s excellent Channukah present from Esther was a ball and portable soccer net. He was thrilled).