Weekly Updates – Jerusalem Feb 7, 2016
On Sunday we had a Tu Bishvat Seder.
Tu BiShvat (ט״ו בשבט) is a Jewish holiday which falls on the 15th day of the Hebrew month Shvat. It is also called “Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot” (Hebrew: ראש השנה לאילנות), literally “New Year of the Trees.” In contemporary Israel the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day and trees are planted in celebration. Its role is important to the concept of Chadash. Most of the students were not aware of this concept. We discussed the new beginning that the holiday represents and we spoke about how we can relate it to the new semester. After that we went to watch a Hapoel Jerusalem basketball game. The Students got to see the Israeli audience at its best and even joined in with chants of“oh oh oh Hapoel ola”.
On Monday night we had an activity with everyone who lives in the building. In our building there is a group of French people who came to Israel to study for the Israeli psychometric (SAT) and then make Aliyah. Despite the cultural differences between us, and the language barrier, we found a common way to communicate and get to know each other. We learned about their life in France and the difficulties they face as Jews. We asked them why they want to live in Israel to which they answered, “there is no place like home”.
This week in Aardvark Jerusalem
On Sunday the Military Add-On evening joined an army preparation group taking place in our neighborhood. The group consists of young people who are working on their physical and mental strength in preparation for the army. One of the student said that it was by far the hardest thing they have ever done and were struck by the difference in what the next year holds for those in the group and those on Aardvark Israel. On Wednesday we learnt about the army structure and about army slang which is a major part of army life. The students went to the central bus station in Jerusalem and asked the soldiers to help them understand the language of the army.
Our weekly siyur
We went on a Graffiti Tour in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem and learnt all about the fabulous street art in the city. Through the art we understood more about the political situation in the country and the differing opinions of the people living in this diverse city. One of our students said that it helped him feel more connected to the people of the city. We also got to explore one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city.
This week Parsha and Pizza became Parsha and Wine & Cheese as the group learnt about the Torah portion of Mishpatim. After receiving the Ten Commandments last week, this week the Jewish people are given over 50 separate rules governing a huge range of areas. There are laws about slavery and witchcraft, parents and Pesach, robbery and compensation and much more. We spent time discussing bribery and the potential damage it can cause society. One of the laws in the portion sets out the importance of keeping the justice system fair and this allowed us to reflect on Israel’s current struggle with corruption.
In the Academics this week:
The goal of our ‘Holocaust in History’ course is to study the extermination of the Jews of Europe as well as the political, economic and societal circumstances which enabled the Shoah to happen. In the first two weeks of class we began with an analysis of antisemitism – both longstanding anti-Judaism and the emergence of antisemitism and how this developed inside of Germany. In addition we started discussing the leader of the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler, focusing on his role and impact in Germany. Over the next few weeks we will shift our attention to Germany’s Jewish population and their position in an increasingly hostile country as we continue to trace the years leading to the outbreak of the Second World War.
In Volunteering this week by Gal Nurik
At the Knesset I was able to sit in on several committee meetings and hearings regarding important subjects about the state of Israel and Jews in the diaspora. One of the committees was to discuss anti-Semitism on campuses in North America and the importance of educating young Jewish adults to be able to fight words of hatred with facts and be proud of standing up for Israel. I am so grateful to be able to have this opportunity to work at the Knesset with MK Avraham Neguise, he has taught me so much and I’m very excited about the next few months.
Next week the whole group will be going to do a tour at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament