Added Pages

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Sephardic Heritage Trip 2019/5779: Day 2 and 3: Gibraltar

After a quick breakfast (and early am beach run for Solomon Mandaloui and Mrs. Wielgus) we got on the bus and drove to Gibraltar for our second day on the Sephardic Heritage Trip. While we waited to cross the border we heard about the fascinating history of this British territory and the story of the Jews of Gibraltar. We stopped for a hot lunch at Gibraltar’s kosher restaurant and then had an hour to shop on the quaint Main Street before we checked in at the really nice Eliot hotel. We then boarded a minibus with a tour guide who pointed out all the interesting sites of Gibraltar including the Jewish cemetery, as we climbed up to the Rock.
The highlight of the day was meeting and feeding the famous monkeys of Gibraltar! We then explored the siege tunnels dug in the 18th century to defend Gibraltar. As an added bonus, we got to watch all traffic stop as an airplane took off from Gibraltar’s only runway which doubles as the main highway!
We then went back to town for more shopping and preparation for Shabbat. We ushered in Shabbat and then went to pray in Nefutzot Yisrael- one of the beautiful historic synagogues in Gibraltar. We then had a Friday night seudah where we heard divrei Torah and discussed the highlights of the trip.
In the morning, we went to the oldest synagogue in Gibraltar, Shaar Shamayim, where the traditions and customs of the country provided a learning experience for all of us. There were new tunes to learn, unusual customs (like the president wearing a top hat) and additional prayers. This was a very rare Torah reading, since three sifrei Torah were taken out and read. Following prayers, we ate together, singing zemirot and listening to various divrei Torah. We had a few hours of free time to walk around the neighborhood, to play games, or to just catch up on sleep. We then had seudah shlishit on the top floor of the hotel, with the Mediterranean Sea and the skyline of Gibraltar, Morocco, and Spain in full view. When the boys prayed mincha, the girls headed to the beautiful house of one of the most prominent lawyers and personalities in Gibraltar James Lasry. Mr. Lasry shared his fascinating biography with us and explained what made Gibraltar and the Jewish community so special. When the girls returned, the boys prayed Arvit and we recited Havdalah right after.
After Shabbat ended, we traveled to an Escape the Room and tried to crack the code of murder mysteries and two groups successfully escaped before the hour was over. Following that exciting activity, we went back into town to have some pizza at midnight and a surprise birthday cake for Stanley Cohen to end the night. Tomorrow to Morocco!

~Mazal Zebak, Class of 2019