Blogs from Middle East - page 1201


Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 5th 2003

We had a light day today in preparation for Shavuot. Shirel led an interesting text study this morning, which combined assigning attributes such as faith, hope, history, etc. to passages of Torah with a scavenger hunt. Afterwards, we went over to the kibbutz to see the celebration there. There were lots of small children and their parents, and lots of activities going on. It was interesting to see this secular celebration of the chag. Tonight, most of us will be splitting up to go to various tikkunei leil shavuot, and many of us will probably end up at the kotel in the morning (before taking a long nap!).... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 3rd 2003

We continued our exploration of the different voices present in Israeli society today. Our first meeting was with Rav Dorr, the headmaster of Yeshivat Chorev, a modern Orthodox school. In particular, the school is associated with the National Religious Party, so we got to hear some of Rav Dorr's perspectives on balancing religious life with obligations to the state. We then went to the studios of T'chelet TV, a new television statement that is focused on providing wholesome and educational programming about Judaism for both children and adults. It has been on the air since around Pesach, and its initial ratings have been very high. Their mission is to engage Israeli Jews in Judaism (some Israelis, especially secular, have surprisingly little knowledge about Judaism). After having the afternoon free, we had dinner at the home of ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 3rd 2003

Our first meeting this morning was with Sara Bogen, who works for the Joint Distribution Committee in the former Soviet Union. She provided an overview of the work to be done there, and the challenges they face. We then went to see Dani Daniel, who runs a program called Tzav Pius for the Avichai Foundation. Tzav Pius is a program that sets up dialogue groups between dati (religious) and chiloni (secular) Jews to work towards improved relations in this regard. The program is heavily advertised, and has had some success in bringing together people on opposite sides of this divide. Later in the afternoon, the youth project group went to meet some of the volunteers at Noar Oneh Noar (Na'an, Youth Answering Youth). This is a teen-run hotline for teens who have problems. The idea is ... read more

Middle East » Israel » South District » Ein Gedi June 3rd 2003

We had a break from our workshops today, and took a trip down to Ein Gedi, a preserve in the desert near the Dead Sea. Although the area is only about 40 miles from Jerusalem, the drive took us about 3 hours because of having to go around the West Bank instead of taking the direct route. We took a hike through one of the wadis to a waterfall, where we had a chance to get in the water. Although the foliage was not as lush as on our hike in the Golan, the scenery was still spectacular, with mountains rising high over the sides of the wadi. After hiking out, we had lunch near the Dead Sea before coming back to Jerusalem.... read more

Middle East » Israel » Haifa District » Haifa June 1st 2003

Today was our only day in Haifa. We began with an overview of the city from one of the promenades on the hill, and then walked over for an overlook of the Bahai Gardens. We then met with Ophir Yarden, an educator who does a lot of work with Israeli Arabs. After a discussion of the situation of Arabs in Israel, we went to visit the Sisters of Nazareth School, an Arab Christian school in Haifa. Haifa has a more mixed population than any other city in Israel, and generally has had good relations between Jews and Arabs. The school we visited was very different than what one would expect from seeing the news in the US. The neighborhood is upper middle class, and the school is beatiful and well equipped in terms of lab and ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 1st 2003

After an unsuccessful attempt to go to services this morning (although I did have a rather pleasant walk), I returned to Ramat Rachel for a nap and then lunch with the group. We had a text study after lunch, where we looked at the different views in Torah with regard to how Jews are obligated to treat strangers among us. We had the rest of the afternoon free until we got together for havdalah before heading out for the evening.... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 1st 2003

Despite the piguim (attacks) last night and this morning (one at a border checkpoint and one near French Hill), things seemed pretty normal today. There was some impact on our program, as the Arab journalist we were to meet with in the morning was delayed in arriving because he had to go through the checkpoint that had been attacked. We were able to reschedule him for the afternoon. Our first speaker was Dr. Guy Bachor of the Interdisciplinary College in Hertziliya. He gave us an overview of American/Western involvement in the Middle East situation, with an understanding of how Arab and Middle Eastern culture has responded to this involvement. After lunch at the JCC office, we had to relocate to the HUC campus down the street because we couldn't get the video to work (a not ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 1st 2003

Today was a very emotional day. We started off with a discussion of the matsav with Dr. Debbie Weissman and Israel Meidad, both modern orthodox but on the left and right, respectively, politically. The group then split up, with most going to see Dr. Michel Strachansky, the director of research at the Bank of Israel (the equivalent of the Federal Reserve). A few of us (Addie, Elana, and myself) went to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus to hear about how the matsav has affected their work. After a brief overview and tour, we met with several victims of piguim who are recovering from their injuries (Mt. Scopus specializes in rehabilitation, in contrast to the Ein Kerem hospital that specializes in trauma care). Needless to say, our meetings with the victims were the most emotional part of ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem June 1st 2003

This morning we visited Har HaZikaron, the hills including Yad Vashem, the cemetery at Mt. Herzl where Israel's national leaders are buried, and the military cemetery. While we only visited the latter two sites, we did discuss the overall layout of the hill, in terms of how the places came to be sited and so forth. All of this was in the context of understanding Israeli collective memory. In the afternoon, we went to the archaeological dig at Beit Guvrin. We had a tour of the site and had a chance to participate a little bit in the current dig. At this site the people who built houses dug out the soft rock to use for the homes, leaving cellar caves which are now being excavated. We did find some interesting pieces of pottery, and had ... read more

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Tel Aviv June 1st 2003

We started this morning with meditation and breakfast on the beach in Tel Aviv. We then had a short walk through the city, with an eye towards understanding the history of the city from its secular origins and as the place where the State of Israel was declared. We ended at Independence Hall, where we saw a presentation about the declaration of the state and had a chance to discuss our own views of the important elements of Israeli society today. After lunch at a restaurant in the Yemenite quarter of the city, we split up for our project group meetings. The youth group went to the office of the municipal youth council. We met with the president of the council for grades 7-9. She explained their activities, which focus on advocacy and student issues. For ... read more

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