Posts Tagged ‘vibe israel’

I was halfway across the world in a garage full of broken and discarded toys. Tal Tenne Czaczkes is an artist and designer and we were going to do a project with her. I didn’t know exactly what we were in for. But I had a belly full of Jachnun–a delicious Yemenite breakfast and I was pretty much ready for anything else they wanted to throw at us.

This was the fourth day of our Vibe Israel tour. We’d already spent a day in Jerusalem and another with inspiring Middle Eastern women from a Druze community.

Tal showed us an image of her family–Four kids and a husband asleep in the same bed. She stood up to snap the photo. Yes, believe it or not, she was in this puzzle of people before snapping this. I asked her where and how that was possible and she didn’t have any idea either. But it’s an image that sticks in my mind to this day.

a family of 6 bedsharing: Vibe Israel

Photo by Tal Tenne Czaczkes

Brothers, sisters, dad, and mom above, all crammed into one spot. If that isn’t love I don’t know what is. I didn’t know much about her, who she was or her parenting style. But she had my attention, and I was ready to listen.

Moments after stepping into this Israeli art garage, we were each handed a basket full of small toys and instructed to dump them out across the floor. At first it felt a little uncomfortable to be making that kind of mess. But Tal encouraged us. She’s a creative with a childlike love of life. I felt a twinge of satisfaction while I imagined the joy a simple action like this brought to my kids. For Tal, a broken toy is never discarded, but often put to use in another way.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike.

We flipped the baskets over and used them as chairs. Because of course. We sat in a circle around this pile of toys as Tal told us about her philosophy of living life. It’s a conversation I’ll never forget.

If you came home to house flooded with water how would you react? Panic? Cry? Scream? Turn around and walk the other direction, pretending this wasn’t happening? All very understandable reactions.

I listened as she told the story of coming home to a house flooded with water. Many of their belongings were ruined. It was a disaster–If she chose to see it that way. But she didn’t. What was done was done. Instead of crumbling into a pit of sorrow as I likely would have, she doused the floor with dish soap and spawned an indoor slip and slide for her family.

Bad things happen, all the time. But listening to Tal helped me to remember that we don’t have to see it that way. She has a way of transforming frustrating situations into something that brings joy. And memories. And I can’t help but feel like her children are better off because of that.

Becoming childlike

I’m curious when “acting childish” became a negative connotation. Who’s to say being innocent, trusting, accepting, and big dreamers.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike. Mirrors of happiness.

Tal explained how she chooses how she perceives things. We can choose to think and act like adults are expected to, or we can choose to think and act more like children. I look at a messy room as a task I’m obligated to fix. My daughter looks at a messy room as a sign of a fun time that was had.

This mess we made on the floor–The pieces of discarded toys–we turned them into works of art. We dug through to find fragments that reminded us of our childhood, or made us smile. We took a bit of chaos and turned it into something beautiful. Mirrors of Happiness.

Vibe Israel art garage lesson on becoming childlike. Mirrors of happiness.

I can stress day in and day out about unfinished tasks, and how good of a mom I wish I was. Or I can enjoy the beautiful mess that is life and see it as my children see it. I can embrace my inner child so that I can cherish my own children more. I’m choosing the latter.



Photos by the amazingly talented Shani Sadicario.

My trip to Israel was organized by Vibe Israel. Their mission is to create conversations – What I learned and decided to share is all my own. You can find out more about Tal Tenne Czaczkes and her art studio by visiting her website.

Here’s a video of the action at Tal’s Art Studio:

I’ve been home for a few weeks and still trying to process the experience. Three weeks ago I got on a plane and flew further from home than I have in my entire life. About 15 hours later I landed in a little country about the size of New Jersey smack dab in the middle east. A little country called Israel.

Luckily last month I challenged myself to a crazy task to record and edit a video a day. If I hadn’t I’m not sure I would have documented the experience as thoroughly as I did. I’m so glad I did though. Every time I watch them I’m taken back to the beautiful country, people, and delicious food. And reviewing them will help me describe the experience. If you missed my daily travel vlogs from Israel while there you can catch up here.

So what was I doing in Israel anyway?

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

Vibe Israel is a nonprofit that’s working to create new conversations about Israel throughout the world. They invite influencers from around the globe on tours several times a year. I was invited to be a part of the 2017 Mommies Tour. The experience is less touristy and more of an opportunity to explore the people and culture of Israel.

Visiting Israel as an American was one thing, but visiting as a Mormon made things especially interesting. The LDS (Mormon) church has doctrine about members being adopted into the Tribes of Israel and the eventual gathering of those tribes. Our church believes it’s not so much a literal gathering to one place, as it is missionaries spreading the gospel to bring people (from those different tribes) into our faith. (Though based on an agreement, Mormon proselytizing doesn’t take place there).

Visiting Israel with Vibe Israel

Ok, so I’ve been fascinated about Israel for a little while. I’ve been dabbling in world religion studies for the last year and Israel comes up over and over. Jerusalem is holy place for three of the world’s largest religions: Christian, Judaism and Muslim.

Noticing the similarities in religious culture and some traditions was truly beautiful. I realized that Mormons and Jews may be more alike that we think. Here’s how:

Shabbat Dinner

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

One of my favorite experiences in Israel was the Shabbat dinner we had with the Hermoni family. At sundown we sat around the table, had great conversations and good food. They kicked off the meal with a prayer and songs. It reminded me of what many Mormons do (usually on Monday nights) called Family Home Evening. Families typically stay in together, go over how things went during the week, and just reconnect. These meetings also typically start with a song and prayer.

It’s not something my family does officially, but participating in Shabbat made me realize it’s something I definitely want to reinstate, especially as the kids get older and our schedules get busier. Reconnecting at least once a week is so important.


No, I’m not repeating myself… Well, not exactly.

Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath and it’s on Saturdays. Friday night at Sunday everything (ok, well, most places) shut down. And people enjoy a day of rest. In the Mormon religion (and many Christian religions) this happens on Sunday. Now here’s the kicker… In Israel, Mormons actually have church on Saturday as well! Guess it doesn’t make a son of sense to avoid everything on Sunday when you can’t do much on Saturday anyway. Sunday is a regular work (and school) day in Israel.

Zion in Israel vs Zion in Utah

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

Our Jewish tour guide joked with me when I told him I was Mormon, saying “Zion is here! It’s not in Utah!” I wasn’t going to disagree with him. But if you know the history of the Mormon religion you can see why some people call Utah Zion.

Moses led the Jews from bondage, parted the Red Sea and settled in Jerusalem… Zion. Brigham Young helped lead Mormon pioneers after years and years of persecution and multiple settlements, to Utah. Utah was their “New Zion.”

Cultural Mormons and Jews

Visiting Israel with Vibe Israel

A vast majority of Israel is Jewish, but not everyone is extremely religious. You can witness an underlying Jewish culture: People speaking Hebrew, stores closing down on Shabbat/Sabbath. But when you talk to everyday people–Especially the younger generation, they aren’t as devout as you might expect.

I spoke with a mom who is getting ready for her son’s bar mitzvah but she said they don’t do all of the regular Jewish practices. It’s more of a tradition they carry out.

I see some similarities in our religion. Varying degrees of membership and activity level. But even if you’re not going, or haven’t gone for years–You’re still on church records and considered a Mormon. Children are expected to get baptized at the age of 8.–Not necessarily understanding what they’re committing to, but many families participate in the ritual for the sake of tradition. I had an interesting conversation with this mom about tradition versus beliefs and found the parallells compelling.

Diet/ Restrictions

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

A lot of people are familiar with, (or have at least heard of) kosher foods. It’s more than just what foods you can and can’t eat but what foods you can eat together. For instance–Meat and dairy can’t be prepared or eaten together. It also encompasses how the food is prepared. Most of the people I met in Israel didn’t follow these biblical food laws, but some of the restaurants we ate were kosher-compliant.

In the Mormon religion we have a Word of Wisdom most people know that we’re instructed not to drink alcohol, coffee or tea (not caffeine like many people misclassify… I happily enjoy my diet Dr. Pepper and occasional energy drink, thank you very much!). But they don’t realize it also says we are to eat the “flesh of beast and the fowls of the air” sparingly.

Discovering Israel with Vibe Israel

The wine was flowing abundantly on this trip and I didn’t enjoy any of it (aside from a sip from the Kiddush cup during the Shabbat dinner). But I happily poured the sparkling water into my wine glass, and toasted with my new friends.

I loved discovering some of the Jewish community and culture in Israel. What started out as a curiosity before has deepened my passion for exploring Judaism and other world religions.

It’s inspiring to realize we are so much more alike than we think. We fear what we don’t understand. So let’s get to know our brothers and sisters around the world. It makes me hopeful for what we can accomplish the more we learn about one another.

Photos by: Shani Sadicario

nderstanding the beauty in all religions. #catholicsm #mormons #jewishreligion

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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