A few weeks ago we all received an email that there would be a Jewish National Fund President's Mission that wanted some people from HUC to lead a short service and bring some Shabbat Ruach to the beginning of their trip.
After some preparation, last night was the dinner. It was a lot of fun getting ready to play some songs with Susie, one of the cantorial students. We were really excited to show off some of what we can do. When we got there, it was not exactly what I expected to see. The large hall was set up with about 20 seats for the people here on the mission. We started with some blessings and some songs and after dinner we lead Birkat HaMazon and a few short songs. Unfortunately we didn't get to use everything we prepared but the dinner was fantastic.
At the newly renovated 28 King David Reception Hall (they don't have a link I can find yet) we got to join the members of the mission for their 5 Course Gourmet Meal. The meat and chicken were spectacular. There was almost no need to chew the meat course it was so tender and flavorful. The 2nd course of lamb and vegetables in a pastry was so delicious as well. I didn't have a chance to have desert, but Susie was in love with it. This was probably one of the best meals I've had here, but I would expect nothing less.
The conversation was also great! The people around the table were large donors to the JNF and they were here to visit sites that they have helped fund. These people were so passionate about helping establish the legal purchase of the land of Israel. The man I was sitting next to said that the JNF actually has purchased the second largest quantity of land, second only to the State of Israel itself.
I had a lot of fun getting to meet some of these people that were here and I hope they have a great mission checking out all of the great places that Israel has to offer.
There was also something else that I liked about dinner. The group was a diverse cross-section of Jewish practice. Being here at the Reform Seminary there is one consistent message and line of thought that we discuss. Although we sometime like to point out how diverse our program is, there is a larger variety of opinions and beliefs in Judaism. Yes, this applies to the Reform Movement as well. It was very refreshing to talk to people that are not in seminary. Being in our little bubble, it is easy to forget that there are congregants that we will be hoping to lead in a few short years.
All in all, this was a great shabbat dinner and I'm really glad I had the chance to step outside the HUC box I was in the the three days earlier.