Sunday started with good news, because after some of our already-vaccinated students took serology tests, they were released from quarantine by the Ministry of Health. The rest of the students look forward to finishing their quarantine in the coming days ahead.
Monday began with sessions on internships and volunteering, then after a cooking workshop lunch, the Madrichim (counselors) led a session on logistics and how to clean the apartments.The staff explained to the students the importance of keeping the apartment clean and also went over the cleaning supplies that are in the apartment and how to use them correctly.
On Tuesday evening, we watched a special Yom HaZikaron ceremony organized by Masa and attended by several thousand people from different programs which was live streamed.
We heard the stories of Alejandro Hoffman, Sean Carmeli, Jordan Ben Simon, and others who were killed while serving in the IDF or in terror attacks. “In an age where terror targets our homes and synagogues, and when we face new and old forms of anti-Semitism on the streets and on campuses, the homefront has become the front line, and we stand on that line together,” Israel’s Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said. “We are always and forever committed to the core Jewish principle, ‘Kol Yisrael aravim ze la ze’ (All of Israel is responsible for one another).”
Isaac (Bougie) Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, spoke about the anti-Semitic events taking place all around the world, including recent attacks in Jewish communities around the world. “We can never put the fragments back together,” Herzog said, “but we can renew our resolve to cherish their memory and honor their legacy.”
The ceremony concluded with the singing of HaTikvah with the over 4000 people who were there as well as thousands who joined the ceremnon virtually from around the world. Powerful and moving would be an understatement.
On Wednesday morning, students chose between various talks revolving around brave soldiers and citizens who lost their lives fighting for Israel. In one of the talks, Natali (Jerusalem’s Community Manager) shared a very touching and heartbreaking story of Nava Appelbaum, a cousin of a close friend of hers, who was killed in 2003. Nava was 20 years old and was a very caring and kind person who volunteered at the age of 18 to help children who were suffering from cancer. When she was 20 years old, she got engaged. Nava was very close to her father and so the day before her wedding, she and her father went to a cafe in the German Colony of Jerusalem in order to spend time together before her big day. While they were there, a terrorist entered the cafe and detonated a bomb, killing six people, including Nava and her father. Their family found out hours later, since Nava’s father was a doctor and the family had assumed he would be treating patients on site. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Nava’s fiance was heartbroken. Natalie shared two videos about the terrible story of Nava’s death. One was a cartoon and the other was of Nava and her father’s family members talking about them. The cartoon, we found, was a lot more powerful as the faces did not have any specific features, showing that this could happen to anyone. Natali said that what was a comforting thought for her, in spite of all the horror that occurred, was that Nava and her father had gone together. It is comforting to know that her father, whom she was so close to, was with her in the end and vice versa.
On Thursday, the whole country celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). It is always a day of great celebration. Even those in quarentine found their own ways to celebrate!
The past week was very emotional and full of real authentic Israeli life. You could really see how the students understood the depth of the days and how special it is to be a part of this country.
Have a great weekend,