gap year in israel

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January 25, 2018

Jerusalem  Weekly Updates 

Dear parents,

Here are this week’s highlights:

On Sunday night our madrichim prepared mason jars filled with questions. Each student had to pick a question out of the jar and answer it. There were questions such as, ‘What skill would you like to master?’, ‘What is a quote that you live by?’, ‘What do you love most about yourself?’ and many more. We learned a lot about each other and became more comfortable as apartments and friends.

On Monday night we went to a store called “Kad Vechomer” for our monthly art workshop. The students chose from a variety of clay dishes to paint and take home. Everyone really showed his or her artistic side.

Emma Segal said, “I learned that I could still paint inside the lines! The last time I could do that was in kindergarten. And my mug came out so pretty. I’m gonna use it every day.”

For Tuesday‘s trip we took the students to one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Jerusalem, “Mishkenot Shananim”, which was the first neighborhood to be built outside of the walls of the Old City. An actor named Ariel, who enacted different historical characters throughout the tour, was our guide. First he was Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet (24 October 1784 – 28 July 1885), a British financier and banker, activist, philanthropist and Sheriff of London. Montefiore, who was born to an Italian Jewish family, donated large sums of money to promote industry, business, economic development, education, and health among the Jewish community in Palestine, which included funds for the creation of Mishkenot Sha’ananim in 1860, which at the time, was the first settlement of the New Yishuv. As President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, his correspondence with the British consul in Damascus (Charles Henry Churchill) between 1841 and 42 was pivotal to the development of Proto-Zionism. Next, the actor turned into an old woman from Tripoli and for his final performance, he transformed into a Yemenite Jew who once lived in the neighborhood, close to the Jordanian border, during the Six Day War. He spoke about the deep tensions on both sides of the border during that time.

Shimon Stein said, “He taught us about how Mishkenot Shananim came to be in an entertaining and interesting way. We also learned about the history of the area through his multiple characters and their stories.”

On Tuesday night we had a “Faces of Israel activity. It was a group trip to one of the most notorious neighborhoods in Jerusalem, “Meah Shearim”. This area is famous for its ultra-orthodox presence, and infamous for its treatment of outsiders to their beliefs. Luckily, our students were able to walk the streets, in order to observe the customs and culture of an extremely exclusive society. In fact, many of the students were pleasantly surprised by the kindness and welcoming environment they experienced there. The girls were invited into the house of one of the women of the community and they made challah. Camryn Winograd said, “I had never made challah before and I’m inspired to make challah now every week with my roommates.”

The boys were taught from a Torah scribe how to use the feather quill and ink and learned how to write their names in the same way that the Torah is written. Nathan Solkowitz said, “It was super awesome to see how the more religious live and be invited into their homes. It was a really cool night.”

Internship in the Spotlight by – Joshua Allen: “My internship at Melabev has been an amazing experience so far. I get to interact with individuals who have varying levels of Alzheimers and who just need social interaction. I have been mostly doing normal tasks such as feeding them breakfast and just having amazing conversations. The small, day to day things such as eating breakfast with friends and family, and even just having a good conversation, these are things that we take for granted every day, and it’s those small things that makes their day. Even though I have just started working at Melabev, I have found my time there very rewarding and I hope my remaining months will be even for memorable.”

This week in Parsha and Pizza we looked at the portion of Beshalach which continues to tell the story of the Exodus. The Jews are pursued out of Egypt by Pharaoh and his army and when the Children of Israel reach the Red Sea they begin to panic. God splits the sea, saves the Jews and drowns the Egyptians. The people break out in song and praise – a powerful peak of spirituality. The Torah goes on to describe in detail how the Jewish people begin to complain and grumble and towards the end of the portion the people see Manna fall from heaven. Rabbi Marc showed a clip from one of the Indiana Jones movies to highlight the idea of faith. The splitting of the sea is accompanied by many legends – notably that of Nachshon ben Aminadav. God wanted the people to walk into the sea but no one wanted to do it. Was this a test of faith? Nachshon courageously jumps first into the sea, setting off the miracle. A great discussion broke out about faith, bravery and optimism when confronted with life’s challenges.

Best regards,
And Shabbat Shalom,
Natali Basel