Day 14: I’m Going to Miss the Shabbatavator.

by Alexandra Rutkowski

It’s insane in the membrane. It’s crazy in the nazy (the nasal cavity. Courtesy, Michele). [Insert any phrase here to describe the epicness of the day.] We got up at eight this morning to start with some pretty intense theological debates with a rabbi. It was insane. It reminded me of why I love being a theology major. We all sat around in the cold lobby of the center and just talked… for hours. Let’s see… what did we cover today? There was the continued topic of intercessory prayer, if God can do evil, conversion in the Jewish sense, an eye-opening perspective into the conflict between Isaac and Ishmael, the Abrahamic covenant, contrasting views on forgiveness from Jewish and Christian perspectives, atonement, and a short little fun one- are there really only ten commandments. That one blew my mind. I’m definitely going to be looking more into that one and perhaps I’ll write about that someday. Shocking. We touched a bit on free will and predestination, but time ran out quickly. It went by too fast! I just sat there in awe as Scripture just came alive and of course things got intense with our debating. The purpose was not to persuade the others of our view, but to learn about each side and the differences. God definitely used these lectures/debates to teach me a lot. (I recorded 4.5 hours of the lectures, but the last 3ish got deleted on my computer so I’ll be looking back on what I have to study it more.) 

So think of it as a 3 hour night class… except it’s 8 hours, all day, and super, super intense. Ooh, I got the chills. This was definitely a highlight of the trip. I gotta say, rabbis are pretty cool. 

Before the lectures today, I took the “shabbatavator” (what we call the Shabbat elevator) up to my room. As I mentioned previously, because Shabbat is to be celebrated without work, it is not permitted to even push elevator buttons. So the elevator goes to the top floor, and makes its way down, the doors opening and closing for one minute at each floor. So, in essence, if you want to get to your room, it’s going to take about 5-10 minutes in the elevator. We all crammed into the shabbatavator and waited for what seemed an eternity to get to our rooms. There are also two chairs set up in the elevator since standing can also be considered work by some. Finally, I was victorious in reaching my room… only to realize I had left my key downstairs. Fail.

During one of the ten minute breaks between a lecture, we all laid back, grabbed a cup of coffee, and waited for the rabbi to come back. Unless you’re Christian Gonzales of course. He went outside on the sidewalk, stretched, and relaxed out there. Of all things, Rabbi RISHKIN is casually walking by the side of the road (we all shut our laptops and drop our pens so he wouldn’t think we were dishonoring the Shabbat tradition) and we just see him stop and hover over Christian, waving his hands above his face. Christian of course is completely out and the rabbi is enjoying just hovering above his head. That’s crazy. That’s like President Obama taking a morning walk and just chilling right above you as you’re sleeping on the sidewalk. It was hilarious. Poor Christian!

At dinner, I had the opportunity to sit next to the rabbi and ask him a lot of my questions. Hey, when was I going to have a chance to ask a rabbi these things? He said so much that I missed a few kew points, especially about the Ten Commandments, but I’ll be looking more into that. 

Now, it’s time for *drumroll please…* ASK A JEW ANYTHING time. He introduced the time by saying, “You can’t offend me. This is your one chance to ask a Jew anything you’ve ever wanted.” Definitely one of those conversations that will be in my head for a while. Do you believe Christians will make it to heaven? What’s your view on Sheol/Hades? What’s with the kosher laws? What’s the deal with Kosher McDonalds- how on earth does that work? If you don’t believe in virgin birth, who’s the father of Jesus? Does that mean you’re inferring Mary’s a harlot? Do you believe in miracles? What’s your view on abortion? What do you think of homosexuality in the Jewish faith for women? What is it about Messianic Jews that is so offensive to the Jews more than other religions? Do you view Christians as idolators? What is it about Jesus that didn’t fit the criteria for the Jews? What are the Shabbat loopholes? What if you oversleep and miss morning prayer- does it carry over? What about if you’re changing timezones? (<It just got ridiculous from there, haha.) Since the term Christian wasn’t coined until later on, they are essentially still Jews, just Jews that believe in Christ. Why does there have to be such a separation/conflict? And of course, we ended on a perfect final topic… bestiality. Quite a dinner! He was so kind in answering all of our questions and returned with questions of his own. It was a awesome and everyone had a great time.

[Oh, leg cramp! Pain!]

After dinner, we said our farewells to Daniel, our group’s co-leader. He’s served as our worship leader these past few weeks and great spiritual leader. We all have been blessed by his wisdom and insight and we’re all going to miss him. But I’m sure our paths will cross again. We prayed over him before he made his way to the airport. Thank you from everyone for everything!

It was such a beautiful night outside and all us girls went out for a walk. I had a lot piling up in my mind and I just needed some time with God, so after the walk, I put on my running shoes and went through the streets of Efrat. What beauty. We’ve been in a group setting 24/7 in and our of our rooms, it’s so hard to find time alone to unwind. I think we’re all coming to the point where we need to find that a little bit more. I just had a wonderful time worshipping, running, and trying to sort out a lot of things with God. How freeing. I treasured that time so much, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Unfortunately, there were a few hiccups. First being I had no idea people were still in their Shabbat dress wear after sundown, so here I am in my sweats and tank top, running through a crowd of Orthodox Jews with yarmulkes and… all the other things they wear that I can’t pronounce. T’was a little embarrassing, but I got over it quick. The other thing was that I was so distracted by my conversation with God that I completely missed the turn at an intersection that would lead me back to the hotel, which is why I ended up in a random neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, kind people redirected me back. I can now cross that off my life list: running with God in Israel. It was such a beautiful time, I wish I could explain. There’s just something so priceless about simplicity and solitude with God. 

It’s still unbelievable. I’m sitting here in a hotel lobby in Israel. Jesus’s land. For some reason, the thing that makes it hit right now is the Hebrew “Exit” sign above the door. Strange, I know. Goodbye, Efrat. Tomorrow’s Jerusalem. Our last stop. The thing is, I’m really going to miss the Shabbatavator.

Shalom! -Alexandra
…By the way, here’s some long lost videos- one from Dan and the other being the failure of a karaoke night in the kibbutz (We changed it to the kibbutz name… but no one caught on. Fail!). Just watch Michael the whole time. Especially in the middle. Best part.