Shalom Parents and Chag Sameach!
Today is the start of Spring Break and all of the students are on the way to celebrate Passover, some at home, some with friends, some are traveling within Israel and some outside of Israel.
Just as I send you every other week, here are some highlights from our past week:
On Sunday our Madrichim met with our students at their apartments for their last activity before our Spring/Passover break. This time I am pleased to tell you about Dani’s group, which had a very special activity. The subject of the activity was Family. In the first part, the students watched a slide show with pictures of each student when they were little and the group had to guess who the kid in the picture is. It was thrilling to see how they all knew each other so well and almost immediately recognized one another. In the second part, the students watched an emotional video made up of messages from the students’ family members. I want to take this opportunity to thank the parents and the families who took the time and created really amazing videos. After watching the video, they all discussed the topic of Family and they each shared personal stories from their childhood and their home. It was a great way to get ready for this coming break in which many of our students will reunite with their family members after a long time
On Monday night, we welcomed Haggai Kimmelman, a tour guide, the former Director of Institute for Overseas Youth Leaders, and currently working for the Jerusalem Municipality on integrating Hareidim into mainstream society, to speak to our students.
Haggai spoke about the history of Chevron and why it is important for us as Jews to learn about it. The students learned about the 1929 Arab slaughter of 67 Jewish men, women and children, of Israel’s stunning victory in the Six Day War when a cohort of Jews led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger returned to reclaim Hebron for the Jewish people, and about Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the chief medical officer for the Jewish community who entered the Machpelah Cave in 1993, where hundreds of Muslims were praying in Isaac Hall, and opened fire with his Galil assault rifle murdering 29 Muslims before he was beaten to death.
It was an informative session and the students learned a lot in preparation for their visit to Chevron on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv groups together visited the city of Hebron – the only city in the west bank where Jews and Arabs live alongside each other. There, we went to the Avraham Avinu Shul, that was originally built in the 16th century and destroyed during the Hebron massacre in 1929 and since was rebuilt. There, we learned all about the history of the city and the Jews that have lived there over the years. A Rabbi from the community spoke to us and told us how he ended up in Hevron with his family. The Rabbi invited us into his home and all the students really enjoyed listening to him tell his life story and his connection to Hevron. They really connected with him, which was very nice to watch. We stopped at the Hevron museum and were able to see the history of the place, how complicated it is and how the Jews have been fighting to keep the land for so many years. After we had finished there, both the Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv groups went to a viewpoint from where the entire city was visible. We got an overview of the different aspect of daily life in Hevron. Everyone finished off the day by visiting Mearat Hamachpelah (the Cave of the Patriarchs) where the mothers and fathers of the nation are buried. It was a very spiritual experience to be able to visit and pray at such a holy place.
This week our staff member Ilay Beverman hosted Parasha and Pizza. In the session, we discussed Pesach and the last night in Egypt. We focused our discussion on the four sons of the Haggada who represent the different kinds of Jews, how we are guided to treat them as equals and why it is so important that we hear the story of Pesach every year regardless of whether we are smart or don’t know how to ask? This subject relates to many of us as Jews in the 21st century all around the world. The main question from the lesson was, “Should we preserve Judaism or evolve? Can we do both?”
On Wednesday evening after classes, we all met in our Moadon for an alternative Passover Seder. A minute before the real Seder we chose to have a different kind of Seder that involved interactive trivia using an Israeli start-up platform called IKONNECT. At every stage of the Seder, the students used their smartphones to answer the different trivia questions. For example, after we sang “Ma Nishtana”, the students were asked to match photos of Israel in the past to Israel today in order to see Ma Nishtana (what changed) in Israel. After searching for the Afikoman and ending the alternate Seder, we had one last round of trivia, “Who knows one?” We ended the joyful evening with a great blessing for everyone to have a happy and kosher holiday!
On Thursday, in the morning, we woke up to one of the major traditions of the Passover holiday, cleaning day. After the students had cleaned their apartments the Madrichim had checked them, our students were finally able to go on their break. It is great to hear the different plans all of our students have for this holiday. Some are flying back home to see their family and friends, some are staying in Israel and traveling across the country to be with family and friends here in Israel, some have planned different camping trips all across the country and some are just going on vacation to exotic locations all over the world. In one week, we will all return to our normal routine and the last month of this semester, which is going to be full of amazing events and activities such as Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day!
Internship in The Spotlight – Ella Broomberg “Hi, I’m Ella! For my internship, I’m volunteering at the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), work that I find incredibly rewarding even though it can be challenging at times. I have about 30 clients who I casework – refugees who I speak to on a regular basis and try to help find suitable university level or vocational courses here in Israel. I have also recently started tutoring in English, focusing on language and literature-based skills, which I particularly enjoy as I am studying this next year at university. Getting to know clients, I have encountered determination the likes of which I have seldom seen before, most notably in one refugee who went through a process to obtain special permission to sit his end of school examinations despite not having the correct visa, studying before he even knew whether it would be possible to take the test. Beginning to comprehend the difficulties facing some of these refugees (which astound me more each day I am at ARDC) has placed into sharper context my own educational experiences and has made me more fully appreciate all the opportunities I have had to date. Volunteering at ARDC has broadened my perspective of the world and enabled me to meet inspiring people I would never have encountered otherwise and for that opportunity, I will always be extremely grateful.”
The on-call schedule for Spring Break is as follows:
April 18th – April 20th: Idan
April 21st – April 22th: Tali
April 23rd – April 24th: Idan
April 25th-April 27th: Avia
I wish you all Chag Samaech and Kasher!