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Makor Chaim Exchange Students Enjoy Week #3

by Dov Guggenheim ('15)

Last Friday, the exchange students woke up at the beautiful hour of 5:30 in the morning to daven at Nachal Hashofet. After davening concluded, the group, along with Uri, our madrich, and the Av vi Em bayit, Yedidya and Esther, went on a casual tiyul.


Later that day, the group arrived in Tzefat, one of the four holy cities of Israel, to stay for Shabbat. Befittingly, for our first activity there, we met the Rav Koening, the leader of the Breslover chassidim in Tzefat (which has a large Breslov population). The main message we took away from the Rav was that being Jewish does not mean following the message of the Torah on the side while dressing and looking like everyone else. Instead, being Jewish, according to Rav Koening, means looking and acting differently from others, in accordance with the Torah's directions.

After davening in  either the Carlebach or Breslov minyan (both options were available), we all returned and, before touching any food, danced and sang in the streets with everyone who would join us for a few minutes. After the meal, we met an MTA graduate, Rabbi Simcha Mervis, donned in full Breslov garb, including bekeshe and streimel. Ah, good old MTA memories, a "Lion4Life" in Israel too!


After some more singing, dancing, davening, and learning, we took a tour of the old city of Tzefat with a tour guide. We returned for lunch, and, yes, more singing and dancing. Tzefat really gave us a feeling of happiness. At the end of Shabbat/beginning of Motzei Shabbat, we all sat in a circle and discussed a variety of topics. We thanked people, commended people, and asked other people to help with one specific thing connected to our Judaism. Overall, friendships were really strengthened in the circle time.


On Sunday morning, Uri decided that we were really slackers, and 5:30 was too late, so we all got up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the vatikin minyan at Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's tomb. From there, we hiked back to our place in Tzefat; this tiyul is called "nachal amud". We culminated the tiyul with some tehillim at the k'varot of Rav Yosef Karo, the author of the Shluchan Aruch, and the Ari. On Sunday night, we went back to school and on Monday we had a regular, amazing day at Makor Chaim (Mkoch).


On Tuesday, we volunteered to pick oranges at Leket, an organization that feeds the poor and also met with Rav Dovid Rabinovitch, a Rav at Mkoch, and learned Sichot Haran. On Wednesday, there was a fantastic concert in the evening.


On Thursday, we met with Rav Gutenmacher, another MTA graduate, and discussed how to prepare for tefilla. We later met with Rav Dov Singer, the Rosh Yeshiva. We talked about the holiness of Israel, the reason we are here now, and what we should gain from this experience.


Overall, Mkoch is amazing. Everyone is always in good spirits, even at 4:30 in the morning. The learning is amazing, we are making lots of new friends and further developing in our understanding of our connection to the land of Israel and Hashem.

Letters from Yeshivat Makor Chaim General Studies Faculty

Dear Tova,

I just wanted to express how much I am enjoying the group of boys from MTA who have come to Mekor Chaim this year. They are intelligent, warm, articulate and they have a great sense of humor! I am having so much fun in class with them and I just wanted to thank you and the staff at MTA for continuing this quality program, which allows the students and teachers in both of our schools to learn from each other and to learn together. Your students continue to impress us with their desire to integrate with the students at Mekor Chaim, in the Jewish studies, as well as continuing to diligently complete their work in the rigorous secular studies at MTA, during the time they spend in Israel. Kol Hakavod to all of the people involved with establishing and maintaining this quality program and for allowing me to participate in it each year.

Warm regards,

Karen Guth


Hi Tova,

What a great group of young men! I was very impressed with what they know.