This week at Aardvark, we worked introducing our students to Israeli politics. Here are a few of the activities they participated in:
We started the week by teaching apartments #6 and #7 how to make pizza. Turns out they are pretty good cooks. The pizza was delicious. Its amazing to see their development. When they first came, the students where hesitant to even make an egg and now they can prepare complicated recipes by themselves to great success!
On Monday night, we all got together for a Zumba lesson led by me, Natalie. Hannah Sinyour commented afterward, “Its so much fun working out with great people and good music.” We also started our knitting club led by Sahar. We thought it would be really nice to teach the students how to knit a scarf so that they can stay warm in clothing items that they made themselves this winter.
On Tuesday’s trip we took the kids to one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Jerusalem called Mishkenot Shananim. Mishkanot was the first neighborhood built outside of the walls of the old city. The tour was led by an actor named Meir who enacted different characters throughout the tour. At first, he was Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet (24 October 1784 – 28 July 1885) who was a British financier and banker, activist, philanthropist and Sheriff of London. Born to an Italian Jewish family, he donated large sums of money to promote industry, business, economic development, education and health among the Jewish community in Palestine, including the founding of Mishkenot Sha’ananim in 1860, 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 in 1841–42 is seen as 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.
For Parsha and Pizza this week, we talked about Avram leaving for Israel with his wife Sarai and all their followers. We learned how a famine later forced them to eave Canaan for Egypt, where Pharaoh kidnapped Sarai, because she was very beautiful, forcing Avram to lie and say the couple were “siblings,” so that the Egyptians wouldn’t kill him. This story sparked a conversation about the status of women in the biblical times.
On Wednesday, the Selah program went to the Natural Biblical museum to learn all about the animals mentioned in the Bible and which of these animals are kosher and which are not and why. We also met a lot of “seriously cute” animals: rats and snakes and spiders and more! The students even had a chance to hold them and had a great time!
On Wednesday evening, we met with Yariv Oppenheimer, a representative from the NGO, Peace Now. He spoke about the conflict with the Palestinians and presented ideas on how to solve it.. He explained to us how the map of Israel has been divided into areas A, B and C, what this means and why. He also elaborated on what Peace Now does and why peace is so important for the future of Israel. Noa asked him if we give up the West Bank to the Palestinians, will it cause the same situation as the one we have today in Gaza, where rockets are launched into Israel. He answered that the peace will come between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and not with a terrorist organization. He also hopes for the best and hopefully peace can be attained as it has with Egypt.
On Thursday- Natalie Deller had the opportunity to meet and speak to David Bitton, (Chairman of the Coalition) about why I am in Israel and the impact masa programs have on young people, like us on Aardvark. “It was an incredible experience and it was an honour to be able to speak to Bitton personally.”