by Eliahu Ebrahimi
currently living in Tzfat and developing a vision for an eco-village in California
I had the pleasure of spending a Shabbat in .
After already having spent a week together, the Hakhel group had become a community in its own right. We were warmly absorbed into the community of Shuva, a moshav near Sderot, for a weekend.
Our group congregated on the back porch of one of the community member’s homes where we joined the Shuva-ites as they welcomed the Shabbat with song and dance.
After nightfall, we made our way to an intimate indoor space where sat around a communal table sharing Torah insights, songs and stories for several hours while enjoying the delicious home-cooked meal.
The following day, we all met at a community bris which was followed by an outdoor picnic outside of the synagogue. Parents, children, elderly, dogs, cats, peacocks — all coexisting in a chaotic harmony unlike anything I’ve seen. This was a normal Saturday to these people!
We were all set up with host families for the daytime Shabbat meal. 2 group members and myself were hosted by a lovely vegetarian family — Etai and Esther, founding members of the community. Etai sanctified the Shabbat over organic grape juice and proceeded to explain Vegetarianism from a Torah perspective. His wife described the humble beginnings of of their organic cosmetics business — which has since moved from their kitchen to a small factory just outside of the moshav.
The vision for the rural Jewish community that I’ve been developing for the past 3 years is now far more clear as a result of my time in Shuva. My experience in this eco-conscious, religious community gave me the understanding of what it takes to develop a successful intentional community: cultivating a collective of people with a shared sense of purpose.