7th graders from Northern Westchester arrived in Israel on Monday for a week-long program as part of the Global Jewish Connections partnership program between the Rosenthal JCC and Shoham. Their counterparts, young teens from Shoham, visited Westchester in April. The two groups have been preparing since September for these exchanges chatting on Facebook and learning about each others culture and lifestyles. Now, the American teens will have the chance to see firsthand what life is like for the teens, their families and the community in Shoham.
The Global Connections program aims to foster friendships and a deeper understanding between Jews in America and Israel. It is made possible by UJA-Federation of NY and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). This is the third year that the Rosenthal JCC-Shoham community partnership has included a year-long curriculum and cultural exchange for young teens. This is the second half of the cultural exchange, and the first half took place in April when the Shoham teens visited Westchester.
Our Final Journal
By Zach and Sam
We left Shoham very early today to get on the bus to go up north. We went horseback riding. The horseback riding was a ton of fun, but the horses moved very slowly. After horseback riding we played a game where we had to work in teams to play a matching game. During the game we had to stop and complete missions.
Then we went to Haifa to the Jewish Arab Center where we talked about how many different religions exist in Haifa. We went to the Baha'i Gardens. Baha'i is a religion and their beautiful gardens are their sacred place. They were quite pretty. We then got back on the bus and traveled to Elijah's Cave. This was the place Elijah the prophet lived. Haifa was a beautiful city.
Now, we're on the bus back to Shoham for some evening fun, closing discussions and saying goodbye to our friends from Israel!
We are sad to leave Israel but twas a great trip. See you all tomorrow!!
Today we visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel. The children each had their own person connections and reactions to it. Following our time at Yad Vashem, we participated in a workshop in the Bait Sagol (Purple House). To begin the workshop, each child (American and Israeli) shared the part of the museum that was most profound to him/her and lit a candle. We ended the workshop and discussion regarding the Holocaust with how we should always remember yet also look towards the future.
Below are the comments regarding what the teens found most profound:
- 4.5 million names of Jews killed in the Holocaust listed at Yad Vashem
- The innocent children who died
- How people can kill other people without feeling guilty
- The amazing structure of the building - you just have to keep going and can't stop
- The room with the files of names of people
- In order for this not to happen again, we have to never forget and keep teaching - faces on ceiling disappear into water
- The disappearing faces in the water - do not forget
- The people who fought against the Nazis to safe Jews
- Hall of names - extra empty shelves to show how many people we know died but we do not know their names
- Nazis were heartless and they didn't care
- One person can change the course of human history
- People never gave up and they always had hope
- Statue of Yanush Colchek hugging children - giving his life to protect children
- We need to live life to the fullest and we can learn that when we sacrifice ourself for others good things can happen around the world
- To see the pictures videos of the people who looked sad and depressed. A picture is worth a thousand words and you can see through their eyes the pain.
- Story about the girl who went into the concentration camp with a doll. As she became older she emerged from the Holocaust with a strong connection to dolls. Shows the long-lasting impact on life.
- In spite of years of war, we are still a strong country and we should never give up. Everything is possible.
It was a great learning experience for all. Shabbat Shalom from Israel!
By Mason and Jackie
We started the day on the bus on the way to Jerusalem. It was very mountainous around the bus on the way to Jerusalem. Arriving in Jerusalem, we started heading off to the Western Wall. The girls and the boys had to come into different entrances. The girls had a dress code that was too hot for the day. It made us wonder why they separated men and women. We all had a chance to write notes and put them in the Wall. We learned to walk backwards away from the Wall so we did not turn our backs to it.
Most of the boys put on t'fillin and said prayers. Then I (Mason) and my Uncle Edan went to the Wall and brought back a Torah. We said the blessings before reading from the Torah, and then Uncle Edan, Amit and I each had an Aliyah. Afterwards everyone threw candy at me! It really hurt. Everyone had a chance to kiss the Torah, and then I put the Torah back in the ark.
We then left the Wall and went to the City of David, where we had lunch. After lunch we went into a cave filled with water. The cave was used to channel water into City of David long ago (and helped the City of Jerusalem survive a siege by the Asyrians). At first the tunnels seemed normal, but as we got further in the water started rising up to our thighs and we all got wet! It was fun but mysterious.
After we exited the dark caves, we went on a walking tour of The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. We learned about many things such as the Crusades and destruction of the buildings during warfare. They were fighting about land and space because many different cultures wanted to be in the same area.
Finally, we went to the modern part of Jerusalem where we ate dinner and shopped. The name of the area was Ben Yehuda Street.
It was a fun day overall, where we got to experience Israel's past and present. We can't believe how many things we learned!
We are very interested to learn more about the Holocaust at Yad Vashem tomorrow.
By Emma and Julia R
In the morning we started the day off by volunteering in kindergarten classrooms by helping clear out and clean all the toys. We know the kids are going to have a great school year because of the hard work that we did.
After that we went to a nearby park where we had lots of fun hanging out with each other. Then, after all that work and play we had lunch at the Shoham Mall. They had pizza, salads, falafel, and burgers. The food here is excellent!
This afternoon we all went to The Holon Children's Museum. At this museum there are lots of exhibits to show what is like to be a deaf person, a blind person or an old person. First we experienced what it was like to be an old person and we learned about how everyone sees them and how we see them as individuals. At the deaf exhibit we wore headphones so we couldn't hear anything. Our guide was deaf and showed us how he communicates with people through body language. The museum was a great way to learn how different people live. The museum was a great way to see how Americans and Israelies can have the same problems even if we live so far away.
When we returned to Shoham we were invited to the home of one of our Israeli friends to have dinner and hear a speaker from the Israeli intelligence tell us about the relationship between Israel and America. We also had snacks and some time to relax and chat.
We are looking forward to Mason's Bar Mitzvah, going to Jerusalem and seeing the Kotel tomorrow!
By Julia T-A and Jane
We stared our day bright and early at the Purple House (the youth center in Shoham)! We went to the market in Israel called Shuk ha Carmel. There was lots of artwork and clothing to buy. It was unbearably hot so it was a good thing we had our mayim (water)!
We then went to Independence Hall, where the state of Israel was founded. Our guide told us there are now more Jews in Israel than the United States. That is a new fact that we learned!
After that we went to the Museum of the Jewish People to eat lunch... And learn a little. We did an activity in which we were put into groups to take pictures of things in the museum that connect us to our Jewish identity. We looked at models of synagogues from all around the world. We presented our pictures for everyone to see.
Finally we got to go shopping! We went to the big mall in Tel Aviv. There were innumerable amounts of stores as well as people.
We had a really good day and learned tons of new facts and we can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.
By Alex and Chase
When we got off the plane it was very hot! We were so excited to get our bags and finally go to our host family and their Purple House (the Shoham Youth Center). In the airport they greeted us with a warm welcome to Israel. Arriving at the Purple House, there were food and games. The host families were there to greet us. We stayed there for an hour, but we were so tired we had to go home and go to sleep.
Today we woke up tired and jet lagged but ready to get on the bus to Naot Kedumim, which is a biblical landscape preserve. Our first activity was wandering through a maze to find Hebrew words that created a sentence from the bible. We learned why it was important to live in the hills (because it offered protection). The next activity was a teamwork activity where we had to fill barrels with water from a cistern. We had to carry the water with a yolk! Finally, we tried to herd goats and sheep. It was difficult because we didn't realize there was a lead goat! We think his name is Chaim.
Now we're at the Shoham pool and just finished swimming. It was awesome!
We can't wait to go to Tel Aviv tomorrow!!