Here are the highlights from our week,
In Sunday’s apartment meeting, our madrichim brought us different scenarios and questions to answer. They helped us address different world dilemmas and more local apartment issues. We really enjoy our Sunday apartment meetings because it is time we get to spend with our madrich or madricha and it is time to catch up with our apartment mates. We learn a lot and have fun at the same time.
Monday night had us heading out to Jerusalem’s annual Winter Festival. The festival takes place every Monday in Jerusalem during the month of February. There are street vendors, live music, comedians, video art, etc. The students enjoyed walking around and seeing Jerusalem with new eyes.
On Tuesday, we visited the unicameral national legislature of Israel – The Knesset. We went to hear a talk from a Knesset Member, Yehuda Glick, and have a tour of the building. Yehudah has been a member of the Likud party for the past few years. He is a Human Rights Activist for Israelis and believes Israel should have freedom of religion by law. He mainly believes that Jewish people should have a place to pray. He shared his life story and how he entered the Knesset. After our conversation, we went on a tour around the hall. We were shown some of the building’s architectural features, the painted tapestries by the well-known artist Marc Chagall and then we were taken to the conference room where all the big discussions take place. This is also where the prime minister or the president speaks. Sophie Elfenbaum said, “This week we went to The Knesset! I’ve recently become more interested in law and government so this was such a cool opportunity to see the real ongoing of Israeli law and policy. My favorite part was definitely being in the huge conference room where meeting with all the members of parliament go to discuss and debate laws. Speaking to Yeduda Glick was also such a great opportunity, and though I didn’t agree with all his views, it was so interesting to be able to hear the thought that goes into the government. For more updates on the Aardvark Jeru happenings, follow my instagram Israel account @sophisrael”
On Tuesday evening we hosted Josh Hasten and learned about his life story. Josh was an all-American kid living in Indianapolis with a strong sense of Jewish identity, Josh was no writer by a long shot. However, in 1998, bothered by a seemingly endless barrage of negative media coverage about Israel, he took the time to send a letter to the New York Times explaining that the situation wasn’t the way it was made out to be. To his surprise, the New York Times published his letter the following day! Buoyed by his success and realizing the power wielded by the pen, Josh began to put in more and more work responding to unfavorable media coverage of Israel in the media. Please click here to be inspired by one of his famous speeches. For the past five years, Josh has been active in media training, public relations, and speaking tours to impress upon pro-Israel advocates around the world the power of the pen. He shared his views with the students, inspired them and showed them how all it takes is a passion for a cause to overcome challenges and make a difference. Emily Kramer said, “I really enjoyed learning about how a community surrounded by hostility and violence can still find a way to prevail with peace and beauty. People place judgments on the Middle East, which can be true, it can be dangerous but there is a way to live safely within your community. I think maybe I want to live and marry a man from there.”
Internship in the Spotlight by Makenna Madick: I am currently interning at Mikanmor, a leather design company. I enjoy working there because Mikanmor is a small company, so along with helping create pieces, I also get to learn about the business aspect of Israeli companies while being able to get my hands on the projects we need completed and it’s an incredible feeling being able to see the finished product design. Aside from that, I’m able to relax in my work space and think about what I want after the Aardvark program. Altogether, my internship is teaching me a lot and making me realize marrying well is probably the way I might want to go. Also, dad I know you’re reading this – I LOVE YOU!
Parsha and Pizza this week was highly topical. The Torah portion of Mishpatim contains many laws about a wide range of topics and Rabbi Marc gave us an overview. For the last month there has been a small but growing anti-corruption protest taking place on Saturday nights on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. Many of the current Knesset members are under investigation for fraud, trust, money laundering, abuse of power and more and more people are voicing their frustration. We connected the Jewish laws against bribery that appear in the Torah portion to current affairs in Israel, the US and other countries around the world. We also learnt the Jewish laws about slavery. We found it surprising that one of the first laws that the Jews received after emerging from hundreds of years of slavery was about having slaves. However, Rabbi Marc taught us the radical difference between classic slavery (denying people freedom and abusing them), modern-day slavery (sweat shops, child labor, sex workers, etc.) and the Jewish idea in the Torah which essentially is a call to help vulnerable people who are in poverty, find a way to achieve economic security.
This month we also started our monthly topic: Politics. We are going to learn about Israeli politics and about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
I wish a pleasant weekend for everyone and Shabbat Shalom,