We had another wonderful week here at Aardvark. Here are some highlights.
On Tuesday we toured Abu Ghosh, an peaceful Arab village just outside Jerusalem. For lunch In Abu Ghosh we ate in a local Hummus Restaurant where we enjoyed a delicious ethnic lunch. Tourists and Israelis alike come from all over Israel come to Abu Gosh to enjoy the fresh hummus. After a delicious lunch, we visited a brand new Mosque that opened only a year ago. The students were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it was.We spoke to a representative from the Mosque and he answered some of our questions as well. After the Mosque, we next visited a Monastery, where we met with a very special Brother Olivier, a monk who has celebrity status in Israel. He educates soldiers about Christianity. Brother Olivier moved to Israel from France in 1977, after being inspired watching Paul Newman in the movie, Exodus and hasn’t looked back since. His English is very good, although his Hebrew is much better. Brother Olivier had the students mesmerized. We later sat in a beautiful garden in a Benedict’s monastery as the muezzin in the local mosque begin afternoon prayers.
Meanwhile, back at Aardvark the building was transformed into a café with the madrichim serving as waiters. Students from Hebrew Union College came to visit and we sat in small groups with our students and discussed current Israeli, Jewish, and ethical dilemmas. For example, an actual event: the dilemma of should a halachically Jewish man who became a Christian priest be allowed to make Aliyah? While the room was filled with the voices of vigorous debate, our staff served coffee and refreshments to each table. The relaxed atmosphere was extremely conducive for stimulating conversation.
On Wednesday morning we went as a group to volunteer, distributing food to needy. We arrived early in the morning and went straight to work. We divided into groups. Some of the students were responsible for checking that the food we were packing was edible. Their job was to open the boxes, go through the fruit and dispose of what was spoiled. The second group had to take the food and pack it in bags for distribution. The students worked tirelessly. Although it was a lot of work, after 4 hours and thousands of crates. We finished the job. Noa Sperber said, “Volunteering was fun, but still a humbling experience. We got to spend time singing with friends while sorting through vegetables that we would usually throw away, but other families would be grateful for. I think we all really learned a lot.”
The highlight of the week, for me, was watching Hapoel Jerusalem play a game of basketball. Our teams don’t approach the level as professional leagues like the NBA, but the spirit and energy at the game was contagious. Everyone was dressed in the team colors of red and white and fans cheered the team on to a huge win. The final score was 74-70.
Next week we are going to learn about the heroes who fought for the Land of Israel. Our weekly tour will be Mount Herzl, the national cemetery for fallen soldiers. And we will celebrate this a special holiday, one of the unique holidays of the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish Community)
More about all of this next week.