Today’s date on the Jewish calendar is the anniversary of very significant day in my life. On The second day of Elul in 2005 (5765) I spent my first full day of yeshiva in Israel.
It was the beginning of a magical journey that would change my life forever.
I remember the day vividly: After spending a few days in New York City with the family, which preceded the madhouse of a scene at JFK – where I wasn’t the only person on the way to Israel for the next few months, and then going through what seemed like the most waiting I had ever done in life – through delays, lineups, wondering where my lost luggage was while looking for it at the airport in Tel Aviv, until we finally we reached our destination – Yeshivat Ohr David.
Although nestled in the upper-class Jerusalem neighbourhood of Katamon, the Ohr David were far from ready for the pending arrival of 50 or so young men. We’d later learn that the yeshiva had literally moved in to this “new” facility, at the same time as we did. That meant nothing – and I mean nothing – including beds, tables, kitchen stuff, chairs and all the books for the study hall – was set in place. That obviously meant that we would have to help put the yeshiva together… Oh boy.
And when I say literally we moved in, that means the place was literally untouched. So in addition to whatever was left on the walls/floors of the buildings, there was no running water or ready electricity when we got there. Thankfully the electricity was a quick hitch but we’d be without hot water for at least 3-5 days. (there were in fact 3 of them: the dorm building with the dining room on the bottom, the “office/classroom/lounge” building, & the study hall/beis medrash).
Now being a veteran of overnight camp, where electricity comes at a premium and internal heating/air conditioning is a luxury only fit for kings, this kind of setup was nothing new nor bothersome to me. I figured time would eventually pass, and the conditions would get better – which is precisely what happened, yet with varying degrees of success.
What did end up bothering was the reaction of other people. While nothing held me back from telling myself that things would get better, the same voice either fell on deaf ears of others around me or just wasn’t loud enough to combat the other loud and competitive voices of the other guys.
But as you’d expect, we’d all learn to properly get used to the elements, and more importantly – each other.
And as that journey played its course, here I find myself five years removed from that beginning, embarking on a completely new beginning in my life. With G-d’s help, this section of my life should be just as successful, happy, and meaningful – if not better than the previous chapter of my life.