By Claire Gold
SAN DIEGO–When it comes to celebrating Tu B’Shvat, Young Israel of San Diego literally “rocks.” In keeping with what has become an annual Tu B’Shvat tradition, YISD members from the very young to the “young at heart” trekked up to the summit of Cowles Mountain (Cowles is pronounced like the word, “coals”), the highest point in the city of San Diego.
Outfitted with flashlights, walking poles, and a few siddurim, YISD members and friends assembled on motzei Shabbat this year to enjoy being outdoors amongst the thick chaparral of San Diego and hike the 1.5 mile long mountain trail. While some bounded up the many switchbacks to reach the summit in record time, others walked more cautiously and stopped along the way to enjoy the city lights below and admire the glow of the clear, full moon above. YISD President, Robert Sigal, assumed the “sweep” position as any good leader would and as the last hiker in the group, he made sure that no one strayed off the path or was left behind. Basya Rosenberg, about to celebrate her 10th birthday in a few days, was excited to be out at night as she kept pace with the slower adult hikers while her mother, Vicki Rosenberg, leaped ahead with ease to reach the summit where she was met by the Goodwin family; Vice President Ron Schotland; Efraim Hollander, grandson of YISD’s Rabbi Chaim Hollander, and many others. Ron’s daughters, Erika and her sister, newlywed Liz Mudgett, along with her husband, Lawrence, and their dog, Chili, provided assistance along the way to those who needed an extra boost to climb up the steeper parts of the trail.
After reaching the nearly 1600 foot ascent, the hikers took a short break to enjoy the spectacular 360 degree panorama of San Diego. The view inspired awe of the wonders of nature on this Rosh HaShanah for the trees. The group then headed back down the mountain as they negotiated the many terraces of sloping rocks using their poles and a variety of footwork methods. Rachel Sigal, niece of Robert Sigal, led the last group with expert navigational skills as she called out warnings of hazardous terrain ahead. Meanwhile, back at the Young Israel San Diego shul, which happens to be conveniently located just across the street from the mountain trail, the invigorated hikers were enthusiastically greeted by other members to celebrate the Tu B’Shvat holiday with a late evening Melaveh Malkah of fresh fruits and the delightful guitar playing of Eddie Rosenberg.
As President Robert Sigal aptly said, “Come join us at Young Israel San Diego, where we put the ‘young’ in the Young Israel!”
Gold is a freelance writer based in San Diego