Our First “Peak Week” – Shinshinim

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

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