Nov 9, 2015

Perry Sugarman: Behind the Scenes (Reaching New Heights)

by Perry Sugarman

On Sunday 18th October, I was honoured to lead a group of 27 intrepid fundraisers setting off from London, Canada, America and Israel, all intent on climbing to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, raising vital funds for SHALVA, the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel.

Our aims were clear; have fun, stay safe, summit the mountain and keep Shabbat at nearly 4,000m up in the sky above the clouds, taking part in The Shabbat Project.

After 4 days of trekking, upon reaching Barranco Camp, at an altitude of approx. 3,900m (nearly 13,000ft), overlooking the clouds and the impressive Barranco Wall on Friday afternoon, all the plans that had been made over the previous 12 months went into action. The wooden poles that had been carried up the mountain by the porters were driven into the ground, ropes threaded through the tops, and soon our eruv above the clouds was complete. A few more stakes in the ground and we had poles to hang up mini lanterns to keep us safe during the night. The tables in the mess tent were set up with Shabbat candles for everyone to light, and there was Kiddush wine and glasses for everyone.

Our amazing chef and his kitchen crew had arrived at our camp earlier that day in order to begin preparing all our meals for Shabbat. They worked solidly for hours in order to cook a total of 108 meals before sundown, so we could enjoy our Shabbat experience in the sky.

By around 5pm you could feel the buzz of excitement around camp as everyone prepared for Shabbat. At 6pm the whole group was joined by our non-Jewish assistant leader, our Doctor, and our two Tanzanian Lead Guides. Everyone gathered in the mess tent to start Mincha and a very special Kabbalat Shabbat above the clouds.

Not many Synagogues can boast both a Rabbi and a Chazan on Shabbat, so we were very lucky to have with us not only Ari Shainfield, former assistant Rabbi at St Johns Wood Synagogue in London, but also Anton Eriera, Chazan at St Johns Wood and Bournemouth Synagogues in the UK. With Ari’s expert guidance and Anton’s beautiful singing voice, we sang and even danced our way through a beautiful and exceptionally memorable Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Shabbat morning services started at the respectable hour of 10am and the dulcet tones of Anton Ereira could be heard echoing around Barranco Wall for all to enjoy. Shabbat Kiddush was made over some highly prized whiskey and everyone enjoyed a well-earned rest and an afternoon of chatting and card games.

Of course no Shabbat is complete without a good Seudat Shlishit and we were fortunate that our group had brought along supplies of Bilton, Kabanos and Meat Sticks which were eagerly shared around late afternoon in order to keep us going. We ended our Shabbat looking down on the clouds with a beautiful Havdalah service complete with lots more singing and dancing.

We could not have asked for a more spiritual and memorable Shabbat. Everyone felt honoured to be taking part in The Shabbat Project in such inspiring surroundings and with special new friends. The experience of such a unique Shabbat was meaningful in so many ways and had a huge impact on us all.

On the journey home, one member of our group who had never kept Shabbat before said, “That was my first Shabbat and I would like to do it again.”

Perry Sugarman

פרי שוגרמן הוא מאמן מוסמך של איש הברזל, אתלט בריטי, מאמן ריצה ומאמן רכיבה על אפניים. הוא מאמן במשך 15 שנים. פרי הוא המנהיג של מסע ה״שלווה״להר הקלימנג׳רו. ב-2014 פרי עשה עליה עם משפחתו והם כיום גרים ברעננה.

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