Weekly Updates – Jerusalem March 8, 2020
Shalom Aardvark Jerusalem Families,
Spring is almost here, things are beginning to bloom, and we are looking forward to the end of winter so that we can enjoy spring in Jerusalem and Israel. Here are this week’s highlights:
On Sunday evening, we had an apartment meeting about roommates’ relationships using “The Question Wheel”, a fortune wheel style game with different questions about relationships within the apartment on it. One by one, the students spun the arrow and had to answer whatever question the arrow landed on. The wheel included questions like: “What is one thing your roommates did that you appreciate?”, “What can help calm you down when you are upset?”, “What bothers you in the apartment?” and, “What are you happy about in your apartment?”
The students showed that they are adults and able to have an open mature discussion about their feelings. With the help of the wheel, the students opened up among themselves about what bothers each one of them and what can be done to help everyone feel comfortable and happy in their apartment.
Monday was Election Day in Israel (again). Therefore, our students were free that day and had the opportunity to explore the city and the country on their own. The results of the elections are very close between the two leading parties and we are going to have to stay tuned to see what “aces” our politicians can pull out of their sleeves. Of course, this situation is also an amazing opportunity for many debates and conversations with our students. We discussed the elections in most of the academic classes and during our daily interaction with the students. This is a historic time to be in Israel and I welcome you as parents to encourage your children to explore this political tension, which will continue into the near future.
Some of our students were able to vote for the first time in Israel!
Lior Levy said, “Voting in Israel was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. In the states, I had to go out of my way to register to vote. However, I was shocked to hear that in Israel all that I needed to do was bring my passport. On Monday, the day the third election was held, Zoe and I decided to go vote. We walked to the Jerusalem Experimental High School where there were people holding signs promoting Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party and Benny Ganz of the Blue and White party. We filled out forms and then received an envelope, and they told us to go behind a board to vote. I didn’t realize how many parties there were until I saw all the options. My plan was to vote for the Blue and White party, but it took a while to find it. When I did, it was a small white paper with the word “פה” printed on it in bold. I put it in the envelope, then in the envelope box, and Zoe and I left. In hindsight, doing the action was easier than expected.
Voting for the next Prime Minister gave me an immense sense of pride. I plan on making Aliyah next year and in all the times that I’ve spent in Israel, voting in the third election made me feel closer to the land and to its citizens as a whole.”
On Tuesday morning, we went to Mount Herzl, the site of Israel’s national cemetery and other memorial and educational facilities, found in the west of Jerusalem. There, we went to the Herzl Museum, a museum dedicated to Theodor Herzl that offers the opportunity to take an in-depth look at the life and activities of the founder of the modern Zionist movement.
We enjoyed the interactive approach of the museum, including an hour-long sound and light show that presents Herzl’s vision in relation to the Jewish world. The museum is split into four exhibition spaces, three of them showing different eras of Herzl’s life, from the beginning of his life in Vienna and the Dreyfus trial, through the Zionist Congresses in Basel until his early death at the age of 44. The highlight of the tour is the fourth room where visitors are given an awe-inspiring view of the accomplishments of the Jewish state, despite the many difficulties and hardships, and it raises the question of whether Herzl’s famous quote, “If you will it, it is no dream,” has come to fruition or is still in the midst of coming true.
On Tuesday afternoon, we went to the Israel Museum, Israel’s largest cultural institution that is ranked among the world’s leading art and archeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Israel Museum was extensively extended and refurbished reopening in 2010. The focus of the museum is on the art, Judaica and ancient artifacts of the Land of Israel and beyond, featuring the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archeology in the world. The museum has a collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing a full scope of world material culture. While there is loads to see at the Israel Museum, there are a number of stand-out highlights. The students enjoyed seeing the Shrine of the Book, housing the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are some of the oldest Biblical scrolls ever found. Adjacent to the shrine we saw an amazing model of Second Temple Era Jerusalem, which reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 66 CE.
Within the main museum galleries, there are thousands of archaeological artifacts, pieces of artwork, and Judaic history. Exhibitions of modern and interactive art have brought the museum to life, whilst life-size reproductions of synagogues from diverse corners of the world are fascinating, especially in the way they enable you to imagine you are thousands of miles away.
This week in Parsha & Pizza, the students discussed with Rabbi Josh, different customs of Purim and the Halachot (laws) associated with the Holiday. The students are looking forward to celebrating Purim in Jerusalem, for many this will be their first time.
On Wednesday, we began Spirit Week on Aardvark Jerusalem to get into the Purim spirit! Everyone came to class in the morning dressed in pink, because on Wednesdays, we wear pink.
On Thursday, to continue Spirit Week, everyone wore silly socks. We saw avocado socks, puzzle socks, sloth socks, and more! Everyone loved coming into the office to show off what their crazy socks were.
Internship in the Spotlight: My name is Gaby Sugarman, from Long Island, New York! I volunteer at Susan’s House where at risk young kids, adults and teens go to do art as a form of therapy and learn important life skills. My favorite part about working there is that no matter how hard it was for you to be there that day because you’re struggling, you can leave it all at the door and everyone will help you smile no matter what it takes. Susan’s House is an amazing place and I’m so happy I’m able to volunteer there!
Next week, we celebrate Purim, we are getting into the spirit of things and can’t wait to share it all with you!