Weekly Updates – Jerusalem February 19, 2017
On Sunday the students continued with their volunteer work. One of the places that they can volunteer is the Gan HaShikumi for children with disabilities. Three of the students volunteer there, Ellis Lewkowicz, Tammy Davidoff and Molly Cooke. Ellis wrote the following about the work: “I like going every day, seeing the kids smile when I walk into the room and giving me hugs. Also the teachers are always appreciative when we are there”.
We had a cooking class in the afternoon in which we made Tacos. They came out extremely delicious! The apartment meetings took place in the evening and we talked a little about Tu Bishvat and had a plate of dried fruit to celebrate the holiday. Tu Bishvat is the celebration the New Year for trees and all the commandments to do with nature and fieldwork. We also talked about how we as people can be compared to trees and fields and what this means to us.
On Monday we went on a trip to the cinema to see Hidden Figures. It was a great experience. The film tells the story of three African American women that worked for NASA and were involved in the first trips to outer space. The film explored the difficulties minority groups faced at the time and how they worked to overcome them. It gave us a sense of how far we have come whilst reminding us that there is still a lot to do. Daniel Bard said about the film, “It was really interesting and educational, I learned a lot and I didn’t know how much influence these women had”.
On Tuesday we went to Sderot, the biggest city in the north of the Negev Desert, and the biggest city near the Gaza border. We learnt about how the community there lives with the prospect of regular missile attacks and at periods has to cope with multiple daily attacks. Our tour guide, Noam Badin, is from Sderot and he told us his story about growing up in the city. He also founded a journalism organization. They go all over the world and talk about what it is like living on the Israel side of the border and how complicated it is. Their aim is to try to educate the world, to try to counter Palestinian propaganda and counter the commonly found negativity towards Israel. Micha Banschick said about the experience, “It’s peculiar how the necessary safety measures are integrated into daily life”. After the visit to Sderot we went to see the beautiful anemone seasonal blossom at Darom Adom.
That evening our mandatory activity was a boys and girls night. The guys began the evening with an activity about beauty standards in Israel and afterwards they went to play pool. Meanwhile, the girls stayed in for some social activities where they got to know each other better while sipping on cocktails. Then we had a belly dancing class led by our madricha Chaya.
This week in we looked at the Torah portion of Yitro. The portion tells of God’s revelation on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. We studied them together and tried to understand their significance and ethical importance. We also learnt about Moses’ father-in-law after whom the portion is named. He was a non-Jewish priest from a place called Midian. Moses told his father-in-law all about the exodus and God’s great miracles and Yitro then praised the Jewish God with the phrase “Blessed be God” – ברוך השם – Baruch Hashem. Yitro was essentially the first person to use this phrase. Blessing God is something very powerful as it shows our appreciation for the gifts we have been given in life. We used this as an opportunity to reflect on things we are grateful for today. Alex Kofman said, “I learned that honoring your parents is one of two commandments you get rewarded for in this life”.