My Shabbat with Angels

My Shabbat with Angels

Tehilla Hallel
Volunteer at ALEH Jerusalem (4 years and counting)

“I’m on my way to ALEH’s summer camp Shabbat; my suitcase is packed and the butterflies are in my stomach.  I am so excited!  For three months I’ve been telling “my” special resident about how we’re going to have such a great time together, and now it’s finally here – Shabbat at Mercaz Shapira with the children of ALEH Jerusalem!”

I didn’t know what to expect from this Shabbat, but now that it is already behind me, all I can say is: What a shame that Shabbat passed by so quickly…

Three months ago when Eva passed away, I decided to take upon myself an initiative in her memory and fulfill an old dream – to enable the children of ALEH, despite all their limitations and the major logistics involved, to experience something that all children experience.

And indeed, sometimes dreams come true…my dream became reality – in a big way!

Together with a fantastic staff of volunteers from Mercaz Shapira and wonderful coordinators from ALEH, we succeeded in arranging this most amazing Shabbat!

It’s impossible to describe the experience in simple words, but I will try my best to give a taste of what we felt.

What excitement!  We got on the buses that were traveling to Mercaz Shapira, all smiling and energized.  In fact, I can honestly say that during the 4 years that I’ve been volunteering for ALEH, I have never seen the children as happy and excited as this Shabbat!

As we all sat down to the Friday night prayers, residents and volunteers alike all swaying to the rhythm of the prayers filling the room, I suddenly found myself wiping away a tear as I realized that for most of these children, it was the first time they were experiencing a real Shabbat prayer.

The next morning I woke up, looked to the right at “my” charge, and felt my heart fill with warmth to see the smile on her face….this warmth gave me strength throughout the rest of the day.

For me, the highlight of Shabbat was at the third Shabbat meal toward the end of the day, seeing the beautiful sight of the children, their volunteers, the hosts, their families, and all the young people from the community sitting and eating together and singing in unity.

This Shabbat left me with a huge benefit – a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and the desire to continue to give.  Despite all the hard work and responsibility that I accepted upon myself in my role as a coordinator of this event, I experienced firsthand how one who gives receives double in return.

I hope and pray that the amazing experiences of this Shabbat accompany us for a long time to come, and I sincerely hope that this is just the first of many more such Shabbatonim!

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