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My Livnot Experience: Remembrance

To the Livnot Family & Community of Tzfat,

I’m sure some of you have heard that newborns who are not held enough are at higher risk of suffering from severe illness or even death. That being said, I feel that we as adults are equally vulnerable to a kind of soul sickness when we fail to let our lives be touched in a deep and profound way.  Unfortunately, I think it is quite common today, in Western culture, to be spiritually malnourished and not think twice about it. I know countless people who use all sorts of vices and distractions to mask their extreme loneliness, yet every day they feel a little more disconnected. I am not sure if there is a universal prescription for that kind of pain, which I believe is rooted in a lack of community and true intimacy. I only know that in the recent past, I have found myself weak in spirit, swaddled in sorrow, and surrounded by those who found little joy in this world.

Planting for Tu B'Shvat In truth, my decision to come to Israel was partially an attempt to rescue myself from the mundane and reclaim my love for this world. Somehow I had gone astray, and wandered far from my path, which had always led me to being amazed. And so you can imagine my sense of delight when I found myself in Tzfat stepping into the incubator of Livnot. After just a little time, it became astonishingly clear what was missing from my life, and I realized that without the simplicity of songs and sunsets and sharing we are in danger of forgetting about the real value of community.

One day when I have children and they ask about my time in Israel, I will tell them that I crawled through caves where the Jews once hid from the Romans, that I learned to bake Challah, that I climbed mountains, that I ate persimmons and pomegranates, that I held snakes, that I sang with musicians, that I visited tombs of sages, that I made indestructible friendships, that I had the time of my life. And maybe that will inspire them to travel and renew their curiosity for things if ever they should feel that their lives have become lackluster.

Livnot Winter Northern ExposureI am slightly scared to step back on American soil, to start over, to search for a new community. But something is pulling me in this new direction, and it was the same force that drew me to Israel so I am going to try and trust it. Maybe I will return to Israel shortly. Who knows? I want to thank each and every one of you for your various roles at Livnot and the community at large. I will be eternally grateful for this incredible space and all the beauty that dwells within it. I have learned so much from my short time in Tzfat and I appreciate all of your efforts to make Livnot a truly unique learning environment.

Thank you for jogging my memory and reminding me how to live in a state of radical amazement. For a moment, I had forgotten what it was like to greet this world as a newborn does- with pure joy and fascination. What a blessing it was for me, to be taught by all of you, how to love this world again.

With Gratitude,

Michelle Price

Shayna
Shayna Rehberg
shayna@livnot.org

Shayna Rehberg straddles the Gen X/Millennial divide in Tzfat with her four unique and creative children as an ‘unlabeled’ Jew. In all her spare time she also enjoys music, photography, blogging, collecting knives and teacups, swapping stories, and shopping in the shuk.