By Akiva Kra, Gavriel Pudell, Yehuda Wildes, and Avi Loew
MTA Class of 2021

After an incredible first week on the MTA–Makor Chaim Israel Exchange Program, Week 2 did not disappoint! After leaving the YU Gruss Center, where we spent Shabbos, the group made our way back to Yeshivat Makor Chaim. On the way, we briefly stopped at the Lone Tree in Alon Shvut. The tree represents a lot, but for us it symbolized the continuity of the Jewish people and the settlement in Kfar Etzion, which we had learned about the previous week. When we got back to Makor Chaim, we met our English teacher, a successful playwright, and had a great class with her. After the usual, yet always special, seder erev, dinner, and free time, we met the four Makor Chaim talmidim who will return to MTA with us in February, and got to talk and play games with them.

On Monday, Rosh Chodesh, we had an extra-special davening. Hallel featured lots of singing and dancing, accompanied by guitars, clarinets, drums, and trumpets! Next, we had our Gemara shiur with our rebbeim and Israeli classmates. The always-exciting afternoon classes flew by and before we knew it, we had night activities—playing basketball with Israelis and a kumzits, improv plays in Hebrew, and hanging out with our new classmates, our new friends.

Tuesday just made the week better! We had a short shiur in the morning before davening, with an MTA class of 1974 alum! He helped us to strengthen our kavanah for tefillah. After breakfast, we had a shiur about Eretz Yisrael and its connection to us. In the afternoon, we went to the Blind Museum. As we headed back to Makor Chaim, everyone mentioned how their Hebrew-language skills have dramatically improved!

Wednesday flew by, which brought the arrival of Thursday. After shiur, pre-Shabbat kumzits, and secular classes, there was afternoon seder, dancing, and an uplifting shiur from Makor Chaim Rosh Yeshiva Rav Dov. At dinner, MTA talmidim Akiva Kra and Aryeh Kolber were chosen to compete in the famous Makor Chaim chair-on-table competition, where they tied. After dinner, we experienced an incredible all-night mishmar, which lasted until sunrise. It turns out that Friday was also Rav Dov’s birthday, so, in the middle of mishmar, there was a yeshiva-wide hitvaadut to celebrate. This Shabbos is our off-Shabbos, so it will be spent in more than 10 different communities across the country—some with friends, some with family, and at our new classmates’ homes. We can’t wait to see what Week 3 has in store!


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