Monday, July 25, 2016

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Greg's Blog Day!

Check out this video for Greg's reflections from our Shabbat in Tel Aviv!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Congress and Exploring the North of Israel!

Dear Mommy, Daddy, Naomi, and anyone else reading this blog,

Today was a good day! We started off the day by going to the memorial site on the Tel Chai campus and learning a little history about the battles here. Then, we split up into our 22 tribes for bus tours. My bus tour went to the JNF site. They welcomed us with really good food and even better views from the mountaintop. The guide told us that one of the rabbis who used to live on the mountain promised that anyone who lights a candle on the mountain and prays will get married very soon. Since I won't be looking for a husband any time soon, I did not partake in this tradition. Next, we watched 2 movies explaining the history of the JNF. After seeing videos of the thousands of volunteers who have taken care of the forests, we got right to work. We picked up dead branches throughout the forest and, to make it more fun, we cheered and chanted weird anthems from South Africa. All in all it was a good experience that a normal tourist wouldn't get to do.

When we returned to campus, we again split into our tribes and discussed Israel's importance in our lives and our relationships with Israel. I enjoyed hearing from others, especially from the Israelis; the Israelis really surprised me in that many of them did not consider Israel to be a critical aspect of their Jewish identities.

Next, we split from our tribes and attended seminars with inspirational speakers from various backgrounds. My speaker created a gap year program for both Israelis and North Americans so that they can learn from each other and strengthen their Jewish identities. She said her dream is that all Jews around the world will feel obligated to take a gap year. It's a nice idea but totally impractical. Her gap year program didn't interest me too much but she had a fascinating background: she grew up in a Chareidi/ultra orthodox home, became very secular, and then found a good place for herself in conservatism.

In conclusion, today was a long and interesting day where I got to learn from a very diverse group of people. Also, today is Naomi Lichtenstein's birthday so...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Love you!! :) 💗


Ashkemore At Congress!

Today we woke up in our hostel got up and had breakfast all together. Then we walked to Tel Hai Campus, where we were inspired and helped set the mood for the day through multiple speeches, skits, and songs. We then broke up into our "tribe" groups and talked about what family meant to us. It was really cool to see people from all over the world come together in my tribe community and all share similar expectations of what a family is. We then compared our list of characteristics that go along with families to the Jewish community, both locally and as a whole. Talking about Judaism and the importance of a Jewish community is really interesting to hear from people who come from other Jewish communities, especially those from Israel. It seems to me that people from Israel, or at least those in my group, have similar views on how to act in different situations. Some of the Americans spoke of personal experiences with antisemitism, and I learned a lot just by watching the Israelis reactions in awe of how someone can get checked for horns in their own school in this day of age. They compared it to how Christian people sometimes get treated in Israel and that is such a 360 for me it's strange to think of. We then heard a talk from Avraham Infeild who inspired us by explaining his choice to move from South Africa to Israel when he was younger, and his struggles with his Jewish identity. He spoke of the potential five legs of a table in order to advocate for and to understand the Jewish people: family,  Hebrew, the land and state of Israel, the Covenant, and memories. We then proceeded to learn about the Hebrew language and the connections between roots in words to help symbolize the significance and deeper meanings within prayers and holy texts. We then learned about the covenant and analyzed a text not only connecting our prior knowledge of family and of Hebrew, but also by furthering our understanding of the significance of advocacy for the Jewish people according to Avraham Infeild. We had dinner back at our hostel after a nice walk back, and had a meaningful maagal Lilah, concluding our day with hugs and friendly faces that we had not seen all together all day.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ashkemore Closes Community Week

Hello parents, grandparents, and siblings whose parents are making you read this them (don't worry I was exactly where you were two years ago),

First and foremost, I wanted to wish a huge happy birthday to Mr. Orlinsky. Lexi and I planned a huge birthday party for him at 6:00 this morning which for some odd reason people decided to skip. But Charlie, Lexi, the required staff, and I woke up early and celebrated. It was very fun and cool -- and may not have really happened

Speaking of "cool", in accordance with our theme of the day, Tikkun Olam (Fixing the World), we future-delinquent Diller fellows vandalized an outside wall of the Ashkelon stadium today as we were taught the ins and outs of graffiti by an Israeli professional. Don't worry, this was a planned event. In fact, we not only for permission from the stadium owners, but also spray painted "Be The Change" in pretty bright neon colors. In the process we actually met up with another group from Baltimore, ECYP, an African-American group also traveling to Israel, who helped us with the graffiti.

After mastering the art of graffiti (parents I would advise you not leave any cans of spray paint around your home from now on), we headed to a day camp to play with 8-10 year olds. It was very interesting to see how this camp compares to the day camps many of us attended as youngsters. We all enjoyed interacting with the kids despite the fact that very few of us could speak Hebrew and very few of them could speak English -- knowing how to juggle and do simple sleight of hand tricks has never come in handy so much in my life as when I desperately tried to entertain the kids in the day camp. Other faced similar language difficulties and learned a lot of Hebrew in the process of talking to these kids. I can surely tell you I learned many different colors such as Blue = Cahol, Green = Yarok, Red = Adom, and many more.

Next, we had a nice Israeli falafel lunch which was absolutely delicious unless you thought a banana pepper would be a good addition to your falafel (in which case you did not enjoy lunch). After lunch we proceeded to have an insightful discussion about whether countries or religions can have memories and what America, Israel, and Judaism as a whole's five most defining moments were. After some enlightening conversation we decided that memories are significant to the development of a society because the events themselves facilitate changes that continue to affect the our lives today and because without memories, each day would be a new beginning and progress would be nearly impossible.

With our bellies full and our minds exhausted we trudged down the street to the fire station where we learned all about fire trucks and what they carry to prepare for any and all possible emergencies in Ashkelon. They even let us try the fire hose. We learned that with lighter homework loads, our Israeli matches have enough time to volunteer at the local fire stations (in fact we had more than a few volunteers in our Israeli group).

Later that night we reconvened at a restaurant for closing ceremony. After an Israeli (not Italian) pasta dinner, the Tikkun Olam group members each gave speeches about his/her experience throughout community week, showed a slideshow, handed out trophies, and we even had a visit from special guest Donald Trump (impersonated by Ryan Sweren -- a spot on performance). Altogether, Tikkun Olam day was full of giving back to the Ashkelon community, learning, laughter, and excitement about Mr. Orlinsky's birthday (again happy birthday Mr. Orlinsky).

Tonight we will all get to bed very early 😉 in preparation for Congress tomorrow with all the Diller groups across the world.

Thank you for reading, and as they say here in Israel, שלום וביי (Shalom and Bye)

Ian Malinow

Friday, July 15, 2016

Community Week Israeli Culture Day

Lexi shares with us what we have been up to during our day exploring Israeli Culture! Sending a big Shabbat Shalom from Ashkelon!

Community Week Food Day

Emily gathered all of the teen's reflections about our food day!