Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teaching, living Israel Summer 2014

I am passionate about Jewish education, Israel education and Jewish camp.  I always love being at OSRUI and teaching all topics in an experiential format.  This summer is my favorite topic of all for my eidah, unit, Israel.  It has been a bittersweet experience, for me as I lead fun, innovative programs every morning and teach Hebrew with more games and creativity and come back into my room and read the news and current events.  Our chanichim, campers are having the time of their lives.  We have done  wonderful programs and I want to mention a few here.

Rotem, Israeli Chef during our program

We have hosted Holywood Squares at  camp with our counselors as famous Israeli celebrities including Tal Brody, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir and the hip hop band Hadag Nahash.  We have also hosted a cooking show and our guest chef (a real Israeli) taught us not only how to make a delicious mishmash recipe but taught us about the different aliyot, immigrations to Israel.  The mishmash recipe showed us that Israel has people from many nations.  At the end of that program we shared different customs in our own personal families and made web as we saw how similar we all are whether from Israel, Chicago, Boulder or Minneapolis.

We are very fortunate to have 2 members of the Mishlachat, madrichim, counselors from Israel in Kallah this year.  They are wonderful and have added so much to our eidah.  This has not been an easy time for them or the rest of the mishlachat at OSRUI.  We are fortunate to have over 30  Israelis at camp helping us not just in the Merkaz Ivrit, Hebrew center but in every eidah in camp, as well as being specialists in our arts program, Tiferet and helping with sailing, and other sports programs.  We have given the mishlachat time to process their feelings and all the news from Israel.  In 2014 when you live with live television, calling Israel whenever you want, and seeing everyone's opinions on Facebook, it is not easy to process all of this information.

Because Kallah is the youngest unit we are not dealing directly with the Matzav, situation in Israel.  We have added to our Shabbat t'filah the prayer for the State of Israel found in Mishkan T'filah as well as the prayer for the soldiers in the IDF.  We will continue to answer any questions our campers may have and reassure them at the same time.  I am looking forward to next week and am praying with all of our campers, counselors and faculty for peace in Israel.  I am glad to be at camp to have a chevre, friends and colleagues with whom I can talk, discuss and just share feelings together.  I am glad to be here as always and I know this summer will remind me not just about studying Israel but living Israel.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Israel: It's complicated

The Hebrew word for situation is Matzav, however when you talk about the Matzav in Israel you are referring to the situation on the ground and what is happening in the streets.  The matzav is code for the difficult situation Israelis and Palestinians find themselves in not just now but always.  Sometimes we have to hear how it feels to live there.  Our cousin lives in Beersheva,close to Gaza.  Below is Ronna's letter from July 14th.  It gives us just a quick glimpse into daily life in Israel.  I think Ronna has summed up my feelings as I run to watch the news and get updates from my chaverim and mishpacha in Israel.  Read what she has to say:
Gabay Family, home base BeerSheva, Israel

Hi Everyone,
It's the eighth day of fighting.  Thanks for the emails of concern - it feels good to have you asking how we are. I'm sorry to have taken so long to respond and let you all know what's happening. Somehow, I just never sit still long enough to write.   Well that's not exactly true.  I had reports to write for the end of the school year; it usually takes a few days but I had trouble concentrating so it took much longer.  Also there was the little matter of my car being stolen right at the beginning of the fighting……
To more important things, none of the kids are involved, at least not yet.  Omer has not received the emergency call-up.  Raanan is doing professional training (in the army) and less likely to be called (I hope).  Yogev is busy with rehearsals and getting ready for his August journey to studies in Boston.
We here in Beer Sheva seem to be getting fewer rockets than in the past……or maybe I'm just more used to it, so it makes less impression. 
Some glimpses of life with rocket fire: 
It means driving with the air conditioning on full blast because of the heat, but keeping the windows open part way to be sure to hear if there is a siren.
I was at a graduation ceremony at Ben Gurion University, before things got so heated up (now they don't allow events with more than 150 people). They began with a request by the security people that if there was a siren, everyone should lie on the ground and cover their heads with their hands.  This is the standard procedure if a person can't get to a safe building.
On the radio, no matter what program is on, they interrupt to announce whenever there is a siren and where it is.
I sometimes go out for walks in the morning and sometimes not.  When I do, I have all my safe (relatively) spots memorized from the last time, so I know where to go to have some minimal protection.  Why do I walk?  It gives me peace of mind and gets me outside, which I need.
How do I feel about all this?  Sometimes I am afraid, mostly I am overly attuned to the radio and with my ears always half-cocked, listening for a siren.  I am frustrated that our government doesn't do enough to try and make peace with, at least, those of the Palestinians who are interested.  Intractability, lack of real leadership keeps this situation dragging on and on.  There is no one to take a big step to make a change.  So all this will happen again and again and again….
Love to you all,

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Community coming together to mourn at Lakeside 7-2-14

The past 24 hours have been particularly painful as we all learned of the death of  Eyal Yirach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, may their memories be a blessing.  It is hard to watch all the news, social media and television coverage of this tragic event.  I know that many people's first response is: How do we respond?  What can we do?

First I have two wonderful websites for teachers, parents and others coping with this situation:
From the Icenter and from the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland.  Both of these sites talk about a Jewish response and how to talk to children.  The JECC site also has Jewish texts to refer to and the ICenter site encourages us to discuss values as we talk with our students.

I think the most natural Jewish response is to pray.  In this vein 13 Congregations on the North Shore are coming together Wednesday July 2nd at 7:00 pm at Lakeside Congregation to pray.  It is unusual to have that many congregations pray together in the middle of the summer, Reform and Conservative shuls.  It is very comforting and I hope that many people will join us and feel the comfort all around.  I know that I am looking forward to praying with friends, colleagues, and congregants.

Please remember that Ravinia traffic may be heavy tomorrow so please leave enough time to get to Lakeside by 7:00pm.