This week was both emotional and challenging, but also filled with exciting and meaningful moments.
As I’m sure you know, last weekend, 45 people were crushed to death and more than 150 people hurt, including many in critical condition, in a stampede at a mass gathering to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday at Mount Meron. Sunday was declared a day of national mourning.
The students marked the event during Sunday’s Apartment Peula by sharing some thoughts and feeling about the situation. The Madrichim explained what had happened, and each apartment lit a candle and took a moment to talk and share their feelings and thoughts.
This week the Israeli Politics Class went on a guided tour of the President’s house. The students enjoyed visiting the gardens and seeing trees that had been planted by different heads of state. Lexi Aronin commented that “it was awesome to see how the President lives in a regular neighborhood and not in a huge palace away from the regular people.”
For Tiyul Tuesday this week, we braved the heat and ventured to one of the most popular places in the country as we explored the beautiful desert oasis of Ein Gedi. Our short hike in Nahal David let us frolick in the same waterfalls that King David visited. Afterwards, we spent some time in the Dead Sea at Ein Bokek. We returned to Jerusalem, where it was a little cooler, hot and tired, but happy after another great day of exploring the Land of Israel.
This week in (th)INK! on Wednesday, we had a great session addressing a few different questions that the students posed. We started by discussing conversion, and meandered to a deep discussion about Christianity and in particular about how early Christianity (which began here in Israel) related to the Jewish world around it, both theologically and practically. We also moved on to discuss the Messiah, and a few students stayed long after the session engage in a fiery debate about atheism. Looking forward to next week!
Wednesday evening, we had an incredible speaker come in from StandWithUs to speak to us about BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions), and how it is growing on college campuses. Charlotte Korchak, who works with StandWithUs, really helped us get a better understanding of what BDS is and how it is becoming more and more of a problem. She gave us tips on how to respond to it and how to fight against BDS whether speaking to someone face to face or whether dealing with it on a student government level. It was really interesting to hear just how effective BDS is and how effective SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) are in the US. At the end of her presentation, we split up into groups and each got a scenario that we had to come up with strategies to solve.