Tzfat, Naamat, and a Bar Mitzvah Celebration By Natalie Caputo

Today we traveled to Tzfat, a northern district in Israel that was first occupied by Jews in 1492. Tzfat is one of Judaism’s four Holy Cities along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias. We started our day in Tzfat by admiring the various types of artwork and jewelry that form an art gallery along the winding streets. Once we finished looking at the art, Tomer introduced us to a Tzfat resident who moved to Israel from Cleveland over 40 years ago. He now runs birthright programs for teens and young adults. He invited us up to his roof top to see the spectacular view of the city and beautiful mountains behind it.  He then gave us a tour of Tzfat’s mystic tunnels, which led us to another shopping area of Tzfat. One of Tzfat’s most popular tourist attractions was the candle store. Here we bought beautiful, handcrafted candles that came in an array of colors. While waiting in line we were able to talk to many other tourists coming from all around the world. 

On the way back to the village, Tomer surprised us with a surprise stop to Naamat, a women’s organization whose primary goal is to strengthen the status of women in society. One way the organization helps women is by providing day care services from 7 am-5 pm allowing women to work well-paying jobs. Another way is by helping women relocate after experiencing life-threatening violence at home. During our tour of Naamat’s community center, we were able to see how unique it is, as it aids women with wigs and cosmetics for women receiving chemotherapy. 

We ended our day’s activities with the Bar Mitzvah held for 20 children living at the village. When we arrived at the Bar Mitzvah, the whole village was already there ready to celebrate. We all ate dinner with our families and listened to the ceremony. During the ceremony, we watched as children from the village performed songs and dances, showing their support for their friends. Once the ceremony was over, it was time to hit the dance floor. A specific highlight from dancing that Arjun would like for me to include was his attempted crowd surfing that occurred with the help of Max and Wesley. He would also like you to know that his dance moves were magnificent. I was able to dance with so many of my friends from the village and the whole night was so much fun. We were all so sad to leave the Bar Mitzvah but we said goodbyes and are grateful for the perfect night we got to spend with them.

A view of mountains from Tzfat.
Our tour in the mystic tunnels.
Enjoying ourselves at Bar Mitzvah party.
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