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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sephardic Heritage Trip 2018/5778: Day 5 - Shabbat in Gibraltar

We had the pleasure of spending Shabbat in the beautiful Jewish community of Gibraltar. After a beautiful picture in our Shabbat finery, we lit candles and went to pray Kabbalat Shabbat and Arbit in the majestic Nefusot Yehuda shul. Then we had a delicious catered meal in a local hall. In addition to divrei Torah from some of the girls and beautiful singing, we got to hear from Moses, our tour guide. He told us about the sacrifices he needs to make to live as a Jew in Seville, Spain - a place where there is almost no Jewish community. He told us how special it is for him and his family to spend a Shabbat like this, and he reminded us to be grateful for the opportunities that we have and often take for granted. This morning we prayed Shaharit at the oldest shul in Gibraltar - Shaarei Shamayim where we got to see the interesting customs of the Western Sephardic Jews. On our way to lunch we got to see the parade of the National Guard - in their kilts and fur hats - marching down Main Street. We also saw lots of proud Jewish families walking home from shul - it was almost like being on Ocean Parkway! Before going back to the hotel for our Shabbat nap, we went around the table and everyone shared their favorite or most meaningful part of the trip. We had free time in the afternoon, and some girls even went to shul to hear a shiur about Pesach with some of the chaperones. The most special part of the day was visiting the Lasry family and praying Mincha and watching sunset from their porch that has views of both the water and the Rock. We ended Shabbat with an inspiring kumzitz and then headed back to the hotel to get ready to go bowling! 
Bowling was lots of fun - especially with good music playing in the background and delicious Gibraltar-style pizza and “chips.” 
The highlight of the night was a surprise birthday party, complete with a piñata and a delicious cake. Tomorrow morning will be a bittersweet goodbye to Gibraltar as we head back into Spain for our last full day on the trip.