Friday, April 26, 2013

What is a טקס (Teckes) and have you been a part of one?

Yahrzeit Candles for Yom Hashoah T'filah
As soon as you hit Spring in Jewish education/Jewish World it's one holiday and ceremony after another.  There is a great Hebrew word, טקס, (teckes), which means ceremony but when you hear the word you know the ceremony is important or at least special. In Israel a teckes could be a military ceremony of the highest order, any school graduation or a Purim Assembly.  At my congregation, Lakeside, we always have a teckes for Yom Hashoah.  We have a beautiful service, light yahrzeit candles and then have a speaker. I have not called it a teckes but it is certainly a teckes.
Karen Barak

This year our speaker was Karen Barak who is the child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors.  She told us what had happened to her family through pictures, song and story.  It was a moving program which our older students and parents were engaged throughout the morning.
Adam Teaching Hatikvah

Israel Solidarity DayTuesday May 16, on Yom Ha-atzmaout during Hebrew school we had a fun day of Israeli Dance, learning Hatikvah, and playing gaga a fun version of Israeli dodge ball.  We ended the day with a delicious Israeli treat of Hummus and pita. 

This weekend we have the opportunity to celebrate Israel Solidarity Day at Ravinia in Highland Park on Sunday April 28 which is also L'ag B'Omer.  There are many great entertainment acts and I think it will be a fun afternoon, AFTER Religious School.  Click here for more information: Israel Solidarity Day.

I love being a part of a bigger group and being part of Israel Solidarity day certainly does it for me.  I think being a part of any teckes happening at your congregation, your city or your community.   I love planning these ceremonies and being part of a teckes.  As the Spring moves on I hope you take part in many ceremonies, Jewish, secular and family. Enjoy and I have a few more ceremonies that I will be blogging about shortly.   

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Ta'am of Kibbutz Lotan

Alex from Kibbut Lotan

We were very pleased to have Alex Cicelsky visit our  Kitah Dalet and Gimmel Classes last week, right before Yom Ha-atzmautAlex  grew up in New York State and has a BSc in Soil and Water Sciences and Environmental Quality in Agriculture from the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture. Alex is a founding member of Kibbutz Lotan. Alex supervises the research interns at the Center for Creative Ecology and works on various planning and development projects in the EcoCampus Neighborhood and on the kibbutz.

Alex showed our students his slides of Kibbutz Lotan and all of the eco- projects they do at Lotan.  They have a program there:
Alex  talking to Ktiah Gimmel and Dalet
The Green Apprenticeship (GA) which trains participants to understand and create alternative solutions for the issues facing the modern world. You can even get college credit for this!

More on other school events soon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My love Affair with Israel and its outcomes

The Kotel from my parents trip in February 1968

First trip to Israel 1972
My love affair with Israel began in 1972 when I journeyed for the first time with my immediate family.  My parents had been for the first time in February of 1968, six months after the 6 Day War and we were there six months before the Yom Kippur War.  My first trip we visited all of the sites, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, The Wall, Yad V'Shem and we also went to Bethlehem, Jericho, and Hebron.  We had the requisite camel ride and I came home joined Young Judea and began planning my trip back to Israel.

Government building from 33 years ago, 1979
My trip back was not to be until 1979 when I enrolled in at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for my Junior year abroad and I spent the whole year in Israel and experienced all the Chagim, holidays from the fast day of Tisha B'av in the summer to all of the spring holidays of Yom Hashoah, Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day and Yom Hatz-maut, Israel Independence day.  In 1979 it was the 32 Years of Israel and I thought it was a big deal.  Today as Israel celebrates its 65th year almost double since my junior year of college it is wonderful to see the changes and some of similarities having just been in Israel.. It was great to be in Israel to celebrate Yom Ha-atzmaut, in 1980 and we saw the celebrations in the street. When you see all of the Israeli flags hanging from windows, hotels, government buildings, stores and just about everyone you feel a part of something bigger. I don't know if there are as many flags in the streets today but I know I still feel a part of something bigger.

All three of my children have visited Israel, two of them on NFTY's EIE 4 month program and one on a special Birthright trip and am so glad that my love of Israel has been passed down another generation.  All three of my "personal" children studied Hebrew at Day school and are lucky enough to have been able to take Hebrew in our public High School.  My "other" children in my school at Lakeside Congregation, where I am the Educator also have the opportunity to learn and live Israel as well as Hebrew.

Lakeside Congregation Pesach 2013
My Hebrew program although based on becoming proficient in reading in our Siddur and leading T'filot for B'nai Mitzvah also has a modern Hebrew language component.  I tell all my parents that their children will not get off the plane in Israel and get directions to their Hotel in Hebrew but they will be able to read simple signs and count to 10 in Hebrew. I hope to give my students a solid base of Hebrew so that they can continue in high school or later in college. 

B'nai Mitzvah Students and Rabbi Serotta
Last week my congregation came home from a very successful trip to Israel with 40 attendees.  We had four B'nai Mitzvah families along with  different members of our congregation.  We stayed all over Israel from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Tiberias.  We enjoyed Seder at the Dan Panorama Hotel and participated in Dig For A Day at Beit Guvrin on our last day. I delighted in bringing so many people to Israel, many of them for the first time. They loved Israel, had a very meaningful B'nai Mitzvah at the Kotel near Robinson's Arch experience with their Rabbi and Educator,  I believe they learned more Jewish history and about Israel then we could have packed into a year of adult education classes and I think they are inspired to read more on their own.

As Israel begins to commemorate and celebrate their season of remembrance and celebration I look forward to reading the stories, hearing the songs and delighting in celebrating Yom Ha-atzmaut 2013 - 65 years of Israel.  I can't imagine what my blog article will look like in 2048 when Israel hits 100 and I hit 89 but I hope that I will be here to write about it!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Our Last Day: Lingering impressions and lots to tell!

Our last day we packed in a tour of the Western Wall Tunnels archeological findings at the Kotel and a trip to Beit Guvrin where we participated in a REAL archeological dig at Dig for the Day.
We began early  with a visit to the Kotel and we  put all the prayers from Lakeside in the Wall.  Many people commented on feeling touched to be at the Wall, it was not necessarily a religious connection but perhaps a historical or community ties.
Then we headed to the tunnel excavations; it is amazing to see what they keep uncovering.  I was there 7 years ago and they are STILL uncovering more finds.  Our group was surprised to learn that the actual Kotel is only a small part of the original wall of the either the first or second temple.  The original wall is much deeper as the city of Jerusalem is like a Tel, one layer of the city on top of another.

Looking down at the group, in an underground garbage dump from 138 BCE
After getting back on the bus we headed south to Beit Guvrin and then began our dig for a day.  Archeologist Ian Stern gave us a short talk and soon we were digging and finding shards of pottery and bones that had not been touched since 176 BCE or during the Hasmonean dynasty. The site of this dig is actually a garbage dump from this period.  We know some Jews lived there and over the past 30 years volunteers like us have found bits of a Ketubah, marriage contract, and other shards of pottery with biblical Hebrew script.

We all found something and enjoyed digging and then shaking out what we had dug up to make sure we had not missed anything.
Ian, archeologist from Dig for a Day
Shaking out the dust and finding even more
from our dig

Our last night we had a festive meal at Olive and Fish and I think I'll save our final farewells for ONE more post.

If it's Monday we must be at Masada

Our hikers getting ready to go
Our intrepid group woke up early and began the drive south to Masada.  It was  hot day and  this did not put off the many people who had decided to climb the snake path to the top of Masada.  Others took caution and rode the Cable car and I was among the latter group.  We saw another example of King Herod's building acumen on Masada and viewed another palace and ruins. Josephus Flavius the only reporter of the time tells us that instead of surrendering  to the  Romans they killed themselves as free people.
OK, I didn't take this picture but it's a good one.
After Herod's time the Zealots who were fleeing Jerusalem used Masada as a refuge and we saw how they stored water in their large cisterns and how they even farmed so they had food.  In the end

It was quite a hike and after lunch at the food court at Masada, yes it has a food court, we went on the  Dead Sea.  At the Ein Gedi Spa we were able to relax, play in the mud, rinse off with healing sulfur water and then bath in the Dead Sea.  Everyone floated as the Dead Sea is 34% salt.  It was sad to see that Dead Sea is much smaller than when I last saw it just 7 years ago.  There has been a drought in Israel for the past few years and although this year they have had lots of rain, due to the drought the Dead Sea is shrinking at the rate of 3 meters a year.  We had to take a trolley to the sea from the Spa.

Dead Sea pictures are always fun.  More from our last day of touring later today. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

B'nai Mitzvah Lakeside Style In Jerusalem

Today was one of the highlights of our trip as 4 of our Lakeside students became B'nai Mitzvah at the Kotel, at Robinson's Arch.  They all had extended family with them, 2 of them with 4 grandparents.  They did a great job and yes I am biased but really they were all outstanding. To see Dor L'Dor, from generation to generation in Jerusalem was the culmination of much planning, studying and working together. Our ceremony was at the Robinson Arch just down from the part of the Kotel which you see in pictures.  Just past where at the Kotel you not only can not pray with men and women together but if a woman wore a Tallit while praying she would be arrested.  All 4 of B'nai Mitzvah had beautiful tallitot and the girls all bought theirs in our stop in Tzfat last week.

After a quick stop in the Cardo to refresh and shop a bit we were on to the serious business of visiting Yad V'shem; which  is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953.  If you have not been to Yad V'Shem since 2006 it has been totally revamped.  It is a moving tribute to the 6 Million who perished in the Holocaust including a tribute the 1 Million children who died.  The use of modern technology including videos, music, and other techniques is at its best.  

While the rest of the group was at Yad V'shem Max, who is too young for the museum, and I went the Biblical Zoo.  We had a good time and found all of Max's favorite animals at the zoo.  

Just one of the cool birds we saw at the Biblical Zoo
After we reunited with the rest of the group we stopped at the Knesset to take another group picture with the symbol of Israel, the Menorah.  It was a full day from the morning of our B'nai Mitzvah to learning about the Holocaust at Yad V'shem and then for one more picture of the group together.  Tomorrow we hit Masada and the Dead Sea. Can't wait.