Every week I’m teaching my students about a different part of the Israel Trail.
This week we were talking about Ramon’s crater, and one of the most touristy places there, the colored sand. Where basically colored layers of rocks were created when the mountain was broken down. Therefore, we were making colored sand layers in bottles, imitating the colors of the rocks in the crater
Every Tuesday morning I run an activity about Hebrew and this week I was talking about the fear of trying and the fact that sometimes we are being intimidated by something, so we are not even trying to do it. We were reading the lyrics of Hebrew Man by Ehud Banai, which has English lyrics but in written Hebrew. So at the moment, the kids were trying to read it, even though they didn’t know Hebrew.
On Friday, all four of us Shinshinim, went to a BBYO convention. We were engaging with teens, Harry potter themed sports competitions, and we talked about hate and what we need as a society to solve it. We are grateful to be a part of these conventions and it changed our perspective by hearing teen opinions.
By Tamar Nawy
This fall, my eight-year-old twins enrolled in the Har Schenya School, an elementary school situated on Mount Schenya in Misgav, Israel. The school educates the children from several of the nearby villages including Manof, where we now live. In the second grade, there are three classes, but the children from Manof are concentrated into two of the three classes so as to encourage and maintain cohesive groups of children from the same village. This approach is unique to Misgav, a region made up of community villages and kibbutzim that all emphasize communal life as one of their core values. In Manof, for example, parents organize get-togethers limited to the children from Manof in order to foster a closely-knit group of children who in many ways feel more like brothers and sisters to one another than merely classmates.
While I see the value in keeping the children from each village together, it was a shock to me when I discovered that the other students in each of my children’s classes will remain the same all the way until middle school. When my son was struggling to make friends at the beginning of the year, this method seemed particularly concerning to me—fatalistic even. If your child gets along with the other students in his or her class, then six years together can create special bonds and friendships that are difficult to achieve with the approach I experienced growing up in the United States. If your child does not get along with the students in his class, however, he is stuck with them for most of his childhood, with little recourse against the system.
Ultimately, the different approaches in each country say a lot about each respective culture. The United States emphasizes individualism, and Israel emphasizes collectivism. Your guess is as good as mine as to which approach is better. But I do know that as an adult I am not in touch with a single friend from elementary school; my hope is that the Israeli approach will mean that, in thirty years’ time, my children will be.
Kim Salzman, who directs the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Israel and Overseas funding programs, moved to Pittsburgh’s Parternership2Gether region—the city of Karmiel and the surrounding Misgav region—this summer. Located in Israel’s central Galilee, Karmiel/Misgav has been Pittsburgh’s “sister city” region since 1995. Coordinated locally by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and supported by the Federation’s Community Campaign, Partnership2Gether promotes people-to-people relationships through cultural, social, medical, educational and economic programs.
Our first “peak week”! “Peak Week” is a week in which all four Shinshinim do activities together for all school students – from Pre-K to Eighth grade, everyone learns about a special subject. This week, which began with Yitzhak Rabin’s Memorial Day and ended with David Ben Gurion’s Memorial Day, was a very special week for us, both on a personal and national level. We decided to focus on the lives and legacies of these two leaders, with the understanding that they both drew the outlines of the State of Israel.
Who are those people?
David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister, leading its founding and early years. Ben Gurion is an iconic figure who led Israel in the War of Independence and built the foundations for the wonderful country we have today. Berl Katznelson, one of the first leaders of the Labor Party, said he was “the greatest gift of history to the Jewish people”.
Several years and several prime ministers past since Ben-Gurion’s election in 1948, and in 1974, Yitzhak Rabin was elected the fifth prime minister of Israel. Prior to that, Rabin served on the IDF as Chief of Staff during the Six-Day War and served as Israel’s defense minister during the first intifada. Rabin’s greatest achievements happened during his second term in office, from 1992 to 1995: Rabin led historic peace agreements in the Middle East, the largest of which is the peace agreement with Jordan. In addition, Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize after signing the “Oslo Accords” with the PLO.
But Rabin’s career was cut short. Rabin was murdered by a Jewish assassin after the Central Peace Rally on November 4, 1995. Rabin’s legacy was and will always remain peace. The neighborhood where I live in Karmiel is named “Ramat Rabin” after his name; and the street I grew up on, the main street of the neighborhood, is named after the way Rabin led the state and its vision – “The Way of Peace” – “דרך השלום”.
So what happened in Peak Week?
The different age groups in the school learned about the lives of these two figures. The content was adapted to the ages of the students and their abilities:
- The little ones, Pre-K and kindergarten, learned about the concept of “peace” and that countries can be friends with one another. The students then made themselves friendship bracelets with Hebrew beads, which put together the word “Shalom” – Peace.
- David Ben-Gurion’s dream was to blossom the Negev, so with 1st and 2nd graders we made pots out of recycled milk cartons, and we planted seeds in them to grow.
- Grades 3 to 5 explored Yitzhak Rabin’s life through a “Scavengers Hunt” with their Chromebooks. They virtually visited stations in Yitzhak Rabin’s life, played interactive games and participated in discussions through the computer.
- In Israel, Yitzhak Rabin’s Memorial Day is often commemorated through ”Discussion circles”, basically a discussion in small groups, led by various youth movement members. I had the honor of participating in and leading such discussion circles during my high school years. The 6th through 8th graders dove into the depths of Rabin’s legacy during the discussion circles we led.
Conclusions and Insights
The preparations for the week were grueling. Countless hours of research, planning of operations and activities, matching schedules with the school and preparing the materials. After that week, we went to a week-long seminar in Boston along with teens from all over North America–just in time because we needed to recharge our energy.
A few days after we returned from Boston, I visited the 5th grade where I was teaching, and I overheard some students talking about leaders. I don’t remember what the debate was about, but then I heard one of the students mention Yitzhak Rabin’s name as an example of one of the great leaders of the State of Israel.
All the work we did, all the preparation and the energy – it all paid off in an instant!
I wish everyone a fantastic week and a happy year.
By Guy Hoffman
So our week started with two visitors from Columbus! We will let you know that they are planning to do something a little similar to what we are doing here in Pittsburgh. 😉
We had a wonderful time showing them around CDS, which is our main line of work for this year. After that they went to a couple more meetings as we parted ways.
Tuesday was “Yom HaAliya”, this is a day that in Israel is noted every year marking the miracle of “Aliya”, going back to the promise land of Israel. Though for us it was a usual day filled with activities ranging from Israeli classic kids literature, to a trip around Israel.
Wednesday has started as usual, though the evening was more full for me! The day of course started at CDS and then spending some time on the Second Floor of the JCC, working on some Hebrew with the teens at J-Line. But at 8 PM I had my first meeting with the “Oakland Zoo”, a wild bunch of young adults at a Pitt basketball game! It was so noisy and colorful just like the sport games back at Israel, I felt right at home!
Thursday came with a breath of fresh air towards the weekend. While we were at CDS, Guy and Tamar went to Winchester high school and finished a little early at CDS, so we continued towards the JCC as usual. But as some may know, I came to Pittsburgh a little late due to a personal medical issue, and I am glad to announce that I am back in full health after a check-up that has taken place on this Thursday.
Friday was a usual Federation day, in which we sit down for a good several hours in order to be 100% prepared for the upcoming week and give you the best activities we possibly can!
Don’t we all love Saturday? Saturday is our day is which we take some time off, breath a little and use most of the time to prepare what we will need for the coming week. The work never ends! But it’s not really work when you enjoy it so much, huh?
I’ll write to you in a few weeks!
Love, Itamar Medina.
Jewish Federation Adds Third Community–Warsaw, Poland–to the Pittsburgh–Karmiel / Misgav Partnership
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh added Warsaw, Poland, as the third community in its Partnership2Gether (P2G) “sister city” program during P2G’s December 2018 Steering Committee meeting. The committee consisted of lay leaders from Pittsburgh and their counterparts from Karmiel and Misgav, the existing Partnership2Gether cities.
The vote took place after a two-year process of exploring the feasibility of adding another community to the Pittsburgh–Karmiel/Misgav relationship. Extending Partnership2Gether will strengthen the Jewish Pittsburgh relationship with Jews in Israel and around the world and will provide a connection to the emerging Jewish community in Warsaw.
Partnership2Gether is a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Its mission is to connect and engage Jews with Israel and Israelis with global Jewry, to create a more united Jewish people. P2G will now extend its mission to connect Israelis and Pittsburghers to Jews from Warsaw through people-to-people programming.
Polish Jews’ roots and connections to Judaism and Jewish life were lost and suppressed during and after the Holocaust. Rabbi Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, refers to the rebuilding of their community as an “ongoing process of discovery.” The Pittsburgh and Karmiel/Misgav Partnership now have the opportunity to take part in the rebuilding process as Jews in Warsaw rediscover their Jewish faith and revive their culture.
Chair of the Warsaw Connection Jan Levinson is eager to see what the future holds for the Partnership.
“Adding Warsaw, Poland, to our Partnership will enable us to truly put global Jewish peoplehood into practice. Having another diaspora community that is outside of the United States can put a mirror up in front of our faces, both here in Pittsburgh and in Karmiel/Misgav, and help strengthen our Jewish identities and strengthen our relationships with each other.”Jan Levinson, Chair of the Warsaw Connection
Director of the Partnership Unit at the Jewish Agency for Israel Andrea Arbel explained that Pittsburgh is not the first city to extend its Partnership2Gether platform to additional or third communities. The Central Region Consortium/Western Galilee Partnership added Budapest to its Partnership about nine years ago.
“The goal is two-fold. We include smaller Jewish communities in the Partnership2Gether Platform that do not have the capacity to maintain a traditional bilateral partnership, while simultaneously allowing individuals and communities to gain a more diversified and complex understanding of peoplehood.”
Andrea Arbel, Director of the Partnership Unit at the Jewish Agency for Israel,
“With Warsaw joining our relationship, we have a unique opportunity to make an imprint and impact on a Jewish community that has many young people involved who are eager to make connections with Jews from other communities and in Israel,” said Debbie Swartz, overseas planning associate at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. The Western Galilee Partnership, along with the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been a guide during the decision-making process.
To kick off the new relationship, four representatives from the Warsaw Jewish community and the chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, have been invited to the Pittsburgh–Karmiel/Misgav Joint Steering Committee on June 16–19, 2019 in Karmiel/Misgav.
The same four representatives will also come to Pittsburgh for the Partnership’s midyear Steering Committee meeting, in December 2019.
The addition of the third region to the Pittsburgh and Karmiel/Misgav Partnership will strengthen Warsaw’s bond with Israel. That relationship will in turn further strengthen Pittsburgh’s bond with Israel. Partnership2Gether’s vision is “Strong, Vibrant, and Connected Jewish Communities With Israel at Their Hearts.”
For more information about the Partnership, contact Debbie Swartz at 412.992.5208 or email@example.com.