Tag Archives: shvil


4 May

Arrival. I arrived from Israel a little over 48 hours ago. My last week in Israel was filled with amazing memories with two of my best-friends, nursing my very tired and somewhat wounded feet back to health, trying to make sense of the fact that I was no longer on the shvil, trying to stay in touch with my Walk About Love group, and of course soaking up every ounce of Israel I could (even though I return in just a few short weeks with my congregation’s 9th grade class.)

I don’t think that I cried this much leaving Israel since my first trip when I was 16 years old. I cried when I was saying goodbye to my Walk About Love friends on WhatsApp. I cried after I hugged my dear friend Nancy Lewitt good-bye in Jerusalem. I cried on the airplane and I cried at JFK. Oh, and then I cried when I got home because my amazing partner Michelle filled our apartment with my pictures from the shvil and then put up shvil signs in the apartment leading me to her.

My tears, I believe are an emotional expression of closure to this amazing journey. I am not upset to be home, rather I think arriving home is like coming down from a beautiful viewpoint. I can’t stay up there forever. Every ascent is not complete without the descent. All journeys require an arrival “home.” The question I sit with now is, “How will I remember to remember all that the shvil taught me?”

There are certain lessons that I think might be engrained in me…my new love of trees and their ability to speak, heal, and offer comfort, my connection with my body and an increased confidence in it’s ability and resilience, and a lot more knowledge about the geography, topography, and the nature of the land of Israel.

Perhaps though, it is some of the deeper lessons…the soul lessons that I hope to keep close. Lessons of gratitude, of compassion, of generosity, of fearlessness, of strength, of self-reflection, of confidence, and of creativity and imagination.

My first day and a half back in Brooklyn I definitely lounged more than I have in about 8 weeks. I’ve been drinking Turkish coffee with hell (a staple on the shvil), Aroma now makes Nespresso pods so I’ve had some of those, I recreated some of my favorite Israeli food, and I’ve been listening to Israeli radio. Today though I realized I needed to reignite some parts of me that were really alive in Israel. So I went to yoga, and took a long walk in Prospect park, I started working on a photo book of my journey, and now I am writing this reflection…

When my sabbatical began I starting reading the book “The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred” by Phil Cousineau. He writes in the last section of his book about coming home, “The art of pilgrimage is the craft of taking time seriously elegantly. What every traveler confronts sooner or later is that the way we spend each day of our travel…is the way we spend our lives.” I took these words to mean that my journey and my home life overlap. One experience doesn’t live a part from the other. All are integrated. All can be integrated. I look forward to sharing that integration with my congregation when I return very shortly from sabbatical and I am blessed that my friends, my family, and my amazing partner has already made space for that integration to happen.

Shabbat shalom and much love from another type of promised land…Brooklyn!

A Walk About Love

25 Apr

Monday was my last walking day. Six weeks and three days later I feel filled up beyond belief. Starting at the very end of the walk on Monday till leaving the group Tuesday morning my eyes continuously welled up with tears. I had been planning this journey for so long, and I am in awe and filled with gratitude for the whole experience. I feel that I met my goals and am gaining so much more than I can even imagine. I’m “walking” away knowing what seems impossible is often more possible than one thinks.

The last few days we walked along the coast and the words from “sea to shining sea” kept popping into my head…I began at the Red Sea and I am ending at the glistening and sparkling Mediterranean. I believe I walked somewhere between 650-700 kilometers. I am leaving about 300 km of the shvil to be continued at some point in my life. Rea, who founded Walk About Love told me three nights ago that “shvil” is an idea, it’s not something you have to finish cause we are always walking, we’ve been walking since we are two. I’m not sure I will ever look at walking the same way. I realize what my body is capable of and what it can endure. How it can walk kilometer after kilometer, how it can sleep outside day after day. I also now feel like I even have a deeper connection to the wonder of having two feet on the ground carrying me from place to place, sometimes with purpose and signs along the way so you know where to go and sometimes you can’t find the signs so you just have to go and trust you will find your way.

I am leaving the trail with a deeper connection to the land of Israel no doubt and I am also leaving having been impacted by the lifestyle of Walk About Love.

There is a culture to walking the shvil with Walk About Love that I have grown so accustomed to that I am definitely feeling disoriented without it. Some core principles are help each other, stick together, and every day is a beautiful day. Other things include: Anytime someone arrives whether from the bathroom or from the day’s walk it is very appropriate as a group to scream, “Welcome!” Also, when it comes to showering and washing dishes you need much less water than you think you need, but when it comes to walking 26 kilometers in the desert you need much more water than you think you need. And finally I am a full believer now that most gatherings are much better done in a circle…food circle, morning circle, sharing circle, etc.

Yesterday morning before saying good bye officially to the group they had a morning circle in my honor and as the tears streamed down my face I shared how this journey was so much better than I could ever imagine thanks to all of them.

This truly has been a walk about love, I’ve walked loving the land, I’ve walked with love for all the people walking with me and helping me to reach the day’s goal each and every day. And now my heart feels open in new ways physically and emotionally, capable of loving even deeper and greater than before.

Sunset on my last day of walking.

My core walking group!

The beach north of Netanya.

My excitement to be at the beach!

Sometimes you just have to take a selfie with a wedding couple you pass by.

Rock love.

Best color combo!


17 Apr

At 8:00pm tonight we stopped chatting, singing, and eating and stood up around our campfire as the sound of the siren blared throughout the country to mark the beginning of Yom HaZikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day.) I swear the flames of the fire grew bigger as the siren sounded. I thought of parents who have lost their son or daughter to war and terror. I thought of those in my group who have lost friends and neighbors. At the end of the siren Sivan, a member of our group offered a prayer that no more soldiers be lost. Ken yehi ratzon.

When I was thinking of writing a post today the theme I was thinking would be “angels.” This term gets mentioned a lot because there are shvil angels, people who offer their extra beds and showers to those on the shvil. Apparently there is even a TV show about the shvil angels.

While I have not benefited from these angels I certainly feel like the members of my group are shvil angels..like yesterday when Regina carried my pack when my feet were throbbing or when Fima carried my walking sticks cause he wanted to help lessen my load or today when Guy bought me hummus because lunch wasn’t enough and also today construction workers who we were passing gave us cold water and made us coffee. All angelic acts.

When I think about angels I think about those who are willing to be kind, generous, and giving. I think angels can be gifts from the מלאך universe. In Hebrew, the word for angel is malach…not to be confused with the word for salt, mel-ach. Although…angels are the salt of the earth.

So on this Yom HaZikaron I am thinking about those whose “gift” has unfortunately been their lives for Israel. I passed some of their graves these past few days: at Kibbutz Tzuba, as we walked the Burma road, which was the road the Palmach created in order to get supplies to Jerusalem in 1948, And at a cemetery in Neve Shalom, a cooperative village founded by both Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Today I realized angels make the shvil come alive so it is not just a trail we walk, it’s a path filled with memory, kindness from one to another, sacrifice, and love.