At the end of the ride, Rav Natan Greenberg said, “One day we are going to make a new kind of yeshiva and you will be my Mashgiach Ruchani (spiritual guide for the students). I said that that’s a wonderful dream, however, I was $15,000 and a at least a year away from making Aliyah.

Just a week later, reb Shlomo left this world and seven weeks after, on my birthday, with $100 in my pocket, I made Aliyah. This is another long story for another time.

My first position was Operations Manager for the Yakar Center for Learning in Jerusalem. It was a great place and way to meet a vibrant intellectual, spiritual community that crossed denominational lines. It also afforded them to get to know me. By the summer, I invested myself in the preparations and running of the events surrounding the unveiling of the Reb Shlomo’s headstone, activities of the Shlomo Carlebach Foundation, on whose Board of Directors I was a member and begin the planning for the Bat Ayin Yeshiva. Life was amazingly dynamic, constantly meeting new people, leading groups, speaking, counseling and general tumling around community life.

By Spring 1996, the work to prepare the yeshiva and recruit students was in full swing and by October, we opened. It was an awesome time. But I had still much to learn about being in a position of authority. I just was not comfortable with it. To manage to guide people while not allowing them to become overly enamored with me, making me their rebbe, was a nut I just didn’t know how to crack. Further there conceptual as well as practical differences in vision and approach that were causing uncofortable conflict with Rav Natan and in February ’97, I decided to leave the yeshiva and reexamine what I wanted to do. So much change and newness cames to me since Reb Shomo left and I never had an opportunity to catch a breath and make sense of it all.

In the summer of ’97, with my friend’s Rav Asi Spiegel and Zev Padway, we made a first effort at outreach at the National Rainbow Gathering taking place that year in Oregon. With modest goals and means, we made a small, humble camp, cooked one pot of Rainbow stew cholent and had some 60 curious participants.

To tell the truth, fall/winter/spring ’97-’98 are a haze. Life in nachlaot was so vibrant that all I seem to remember was immersion in community as well as expanding relationships with Israel and Israelis that I had met at the Israel Rainbow Gatherings I had attended. I did alot of travelling, getting out of the American Orthodox ghetto in Jerusalem and getting to know ISRAEL the modern state. It was a blessed time and a great education.

After the ’98 American Gathering, I returned to the Yeshiva in Bat Ayin just to devote a year to learning. It was the first time since high school that I devoted all my time to just that. It was a period of growth and maturing. I cherished my connection with Rav Natan and the students. I avoided being a ‘somebody’ there until the year was up.

Summer ’99, Rav Asi, Zev and I went bigtime at Rainbow, establishing Jerusalem Camp. It was one of the greatest privelges of my life. To have over 700 Rainbow Family, many not Jewish, most with whom I had longstanding friendships, come to participate for 7 hours for Friday night Shabbat services and feast was awesome as it was humbling. From then on, we were a major respected, desired presences and centers of Gathering life. And opver the course of years, we brought hundreds of chevre to Israel, many staying, learning, finding their soulmates and getting married. The merit of this work, I believe, is my ticket to heaven.

Got to get ready for a wedding now. I’m bringing a woman from Rainbow who I met back in ’99 and just made Aliyah. So, more to come. Blessings to all. And thanks for plugging in. Would love to hear from you.

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