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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sephardic Heritage Trip 2017/5777: Day 1

On Monday, March 27, sixteen Yeshivah of Flatbush seniors along with Rabbi Harari and Ms. Wielgus set off for the 4th annual YOFHS Sephardic Heritage Trip to Spain, Gibraltar, and Morocco. Throughout the trip student will share their reflections about their experiences:
The trip began with a very comfortable seven hour flight where there was enough space for each student to lounge on multiple chairs. Once we landed in Madrid, we explored our Jewish roots by heading straight to the Jewish quarter of Toledo. To get to the famous city, we took an escalator up the mountain and saw the panoramic view of Toledo which was a very cool experience. We visited two of the only synagogues left in Spain both of which were transformed into churches when the Jews were expelled. One of the synagogues was built by R' Shmuel Ha'Levi Abulafia, a Jewish courtier who was tragically murdered by the king he worked for. The shul is magnificent and has pesukim from tehilim inscribed all around the wall. The other synagogue is the Santa Maria Blanca synagogue, which is breathtakingly beautiful. Morris Mamiye gave us some of the architectural background to the shul. We also visited the Sephardic museum attached to the Abulafia shul and saw Jewish tombstones, some of which dated back to the ninth century.
For lunch we sat outside in a scenic picnic area along the walls of the city. For a final special surprise Sheila, our tour guide, arranged for zip-lining over the Tagus river! It was so exhilarating and fun!!
We then returned to Madrid, and prayed Arbit in the Bet Yaakov Synagogue where we were greeted by the chief rabbi of Spain. He joined us for a delicious dinner at a restaurant and even gave us a dvar Torah. We then returned to the hotel via the Spanish metro and checked in to a beautiful and ultra modern hotel - we were exhausted but thrilled with our very first day in Spain! ~Lauren Ishay and Gisele Chera, Class of 2017