Zoe ~ Yesterday, July 30, 2014 was the first day on this trip that I did not have a. I know. It’s quite shocking. But please, try not to freak out. I think I can get through it. But don’t worry. Every day so far I’ve had Nutella at least once, so you guys can stop worrying. Besides for the awful fact that I’ve gone nearly 20 hours without Nutella, the day was pretty awesome. We were supposed to wake up at around 8 in the morning, but being that I am a teenager, and waking up before noon is a bit far fetched, I had to be dragged out of bed by my roommate Eliana. We went downstairs for breakfast where I had tea and toast with jam, and we met Gabi, Aaron, Alex, Danny, and Noah who had gotten up early to run. I don’t understand why they would do that to themselves because running is where sadness comes from, but they had showered, so I didn’t really mind. Then we left Thessolaniki for Ioannina. It was a long trip, but I actually didn’t sleep. Mostly, I looked out the window and contemplated life, the universe and everything. It was really funny though because everyone else was fast asleep, and when I looked back at the rest of the bus, all the boys were stretched out across two rows of seats. We stopped for a quick bathroom break at a gas station where Eliana and I both decided that having ice cream was really important, so we each bought a snickers ice cream bar. They were exquisite. I was really pleased with the purchase. Then we got back on the bus and continued on our way to Ioannina. We got there and ate lunch by the lake and then we met Allegra, the woman who has been taking care of the Synagogue and who is committed to making sure that when she leaves the community (she hopes to move to Israel), there is a Jewish population that will survive, because her family has been in Ioannina since the first century CE, and she wants to make sure that the legacy of Jews in Ioannina continues. Allegra took us through Ioannina (which was really pretty) to the Synagogue. It was so beautiful, both on the inside and outside. Outside, they had a well which Allegra said that they used to use for tashlich, two stone washing basins for netilat yadayim, and the scaffolding for a sukkah. Inside was just as beautiful. We sat inside the shul and Allegra told us a little bit about this history of the synagogue and the history of the Jews in Ioannina. Unfortunately, the synagogue is not used much anymore because there is not really a Jewish community there. Allegra then showed us the aron kodesh. Inside the aron was a four hundred year old torah, which we got to take out and look at. It was incredible that the torah was four hundred years old, and it was still in good condition. We put the torah back and sang etz chayim he and then Allegra put us to work. In the Synagogue, there were a number of old books that were in Hebrew that Allegra couldn’t read, and did not know what to do with, our job was to identify what kind of books they were, write it down on a sticker, and put it on the spine of the book. We all got a stack of books to look through, and the first one I picked up was actually a machzor from 1868. It was so super cool. There were about a hundred books, and they were all a mix of siddurim, chumashim, tanachim, and tehilim. I know I already said this, but I’ll say it again, it was so super cool. It might have even made up for not having Nutella! After putting all the books away, we left the shul and walked back into the town where we stopped at a supermarket to get the ingredients for dinner (which we were going to make ourselves). In the supermarket, we bought foodstuffs, but there was also a lively game of hide and go seek going on with Danny, Aaron, and Jonah (there might have been more people involved, but I was too busy going into shock because at that point it had been roughly fifteen hours since my last Nutella fix. You laugh, but I have a dangerous disease called Nutella deficiency, and if I don’t have Nutella at least once a day, crazy things go down). We bought our provisions, said au revoir to Alegra, and headed back toward the bus. We put down our food parcels, and hit the town, intending to see what Ioannina had to offer. We did a little shopping, and then Aviva and the Rabbi treated us all to gelato. It was delicious. That too helped make up for my lack of Nutella. We took a group picture by the water and then got back on the bus and headed for our hotel. We got in, and saw a pool, so us children plus Gabi (really, he should be included in the term ‘children’, but I’m just being thorough) went swimming. The water was pretty cold, but we got used to it after a while. It was super fun, and then we had a delicious dinner that the Rabbi and Aviva prepared for us. We had Greek salad, tuna, sandwitches, and pudding. Everything a person needs for a balanced diet (except Nutella of course, but that’s a whole different issue, and if I start talking about it, I might start getting emotional, so I’ll stop myself). After dinner, we all went back to shower, and then we met in the lobby to have deep conversations about life. When I got there, the Rabbi was having a really interesting discussion with Alex, Ethan, Gabi, and Noah about the discrepancy between what the Torah says about creation and about what science says. The Rabbi explained that there really is no discrepancy, because science and the Torah work together, not against each other. For example, when the Torah says that God created the world in six ‘days’, there is no actual definition for what the word ‘yom’ means. ‘Yom’ could mean one day, or it could mean one million years, but since it is vague, it works with what science has come to discover. It was very interesting, and I learned a lot, but that wasn’t the conversation we were gearing up for. The Rabbi talked to us about the period of time from when the Jews left Egypt to when we got the Ten Commandments, to the golden calf, and all the way to the redemption of the Jewish people. Then we talked about whether the Torah was given or received at Mount Sinai, and Eliana said (very smartly, I might add), that it was both given and received because if it hadn’t been given, we wouldn’t have it today, and if we had not received it, we would not be practicing the commandments God gave us. We were all very impressed with Eliana’s wisdom. It started getting late, so the Rabbi and Aviva sent us to bed. All in all, it was a pretty fantastic day.