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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sephardic Heritage trip to Spain 2014/5774: Day 5 - Shabbat in Gibraltar

Scott Olsen once said, “Every person is defined by the community they belong to.” If there's anything we've learned here in Gibraltar, it’s that. Upon entering Nefusot Yehuda, one of the four local shuls, on Friday night we were welcomed like celebrities with everyone greeting us and wishing us a "Shabbat Shalom," leaving us with full appreciation of our people. After singing through the true Sephardic melodies, we caught up with some of the local teens and had our "sneak peak" of the former mayor of Gibraltar. Over dinner, we heard from the Chief Rabbi of Gibratar, who happens to be related to some important physicians. We also heard the inspirational story of our own guide, Moshe, and his persistence in observing Mitzvot in a city with few Jews.

On Shabbat morning we were welcomed into Shaar HaShamayim, an eighteenth century synagogue, the first and oldest in the land, where we were once again greeted with warmth and smiles. It was here where the shamash offered our very own Rabbi Beyda to address the entire kahal, where he rocked it, talking about how it is critical to not be judgmental of others. On the way out, one of the congregants gave us a bit of a crash course on Gibraltarian history and most importantly, how to pull off the well-known British "top hat look."
Students with former mayor of Gibraltar
After lunch, we had a fun and laugh-filled meeting with the Former Mayor of Gibraltar, Solomon Levy MBE; who was the prime example of his favorite saying "as an an Englishman gets older he gets dapper." This iconic figure showed a glowing sense of humor, education and most importantly, class.

After short Shabbat naps, we went to the local Community Center to hang out with local Jewish high school students. We had a great time playing ping pong, soccer, and billiards and just mingling with these really down to earth kids that had so much in common with us yet were so different. In the competition between USA vs. Gibraltar, we lost soccer (Victor Dweck, Shaya Tawil, and Rabbi Beyda) but took the Ping Pong championship (thanks Ray Mosseri!). Sarah Cohen (aka Happy takes Spain) and Sylvia Frastai made new friends, especially someone that looks remarkably like our very own Senior Council member Francine Shamosh.

Shaya Tawil performed a moving Havdallah in which he did his best Rabbi Besser imitation.

We ended off this special Motzei Shabbat with a great pizza dinner (finally, decent food!) and then Sheila (our trip organizer) announced a bowling night in a fortress converted into an awesome entertainment center (bowling, arcade, ice skating, movies, and more!). This trip just keeps on raking in the fun! On to our final day! ~Charles "CHAZ" Chakkalo