Sunday, July 28, 2013

Haifa Community Week: National Service Day

July 26th National Service Day Written by Andrew Jacobson The day commenced with a simple agree-disagree game. The leaders of the day read a statement and if one agreed, he moved to one side of the room, if he didn't he moved to the other side. There was a spectrum in between the two extremes for those who felt like they didn't belong on either side. Most of the questions regarded the future. Some dealt with people's opinions on enrolling in the army, while others were general statements of whether people are more excited or more nervous about their future. This maagal was one of the most current maagals for many of us. It scares me to think that in a mere two years, I will be moving out of my parent's house. It is truly a bittersweet time in our lives. After the discussion concluded, we loaded the bus to be taken to the Haifa navy base, the largest navy base in Israel. Personally, this was without doubt the most interesting program on the trip thus far. As soon as we reached the security checkpoint, we met Adar. This was a treat because just several months ago we Americans had met Adar during one of our workshops, along with two other Israeli soldiers during their delegation to the US through the CJP Hatikvah Mission. He then led a tour of the navy's biggest combat ship. This was especially COOL because active ships are rarely allowed to be toured. From the modern missles that can fly seventy miles, to the four-foot tall kitchen, it was a genuine experience that not many get to participate in. After the usual woosh clap, we headed back to the Abba Chushi Community Center. There Elad, an Israeli fellow and leader of the day, led a panel with four young people related to the army in one way or another. It included a volunteer in the intelligence department of the IDF, an major in the navy, a religous captain that takes care of combat soldiers, and a national service participant who is involved in B'nai Akiva, an Israeli orthodox youth movement, much like NCSY. A popular topic was whether or not Charedim (orthodox jews who study and yeshivas and are therefore eligible to opt out of the mandatory army enlistment) should be permitted to study instead of being in the army. Many enjoyed this discussion because of the conflicting views of the panel participants. Next was shnitzal lunch (fried chicken-but ten times better than anything you can find in America). This led into the planning of the final ceremony (which is kind of a secret until the cermony on Tuesday). Last was maagal tzohoraim, only because it was Friday and shabbat was slowing creeping up. Everyone formed a circle, holding hands. Each person then put on a blindfold (not the leaders of the day of course). We silently lead about five people to each corner of the room. (De ja vu back to our very first shabbaton in which we did something very similar) This was when the discussion began, mostly regarding topics like the maagal boker, or the future. I think it's really funny that people are literally ten times more open when they can't see, probably because they can't see other's negative (or postitive) reactions. Overall, I thought our day went exceptionally well. There were definitelly small things that we could have done more efficiently--counting people, quieting people down, et cetera. Them staff mentioned during our feedback session today that they were very impressed that we followed through on Adar's offer to see the navy boat all the way back in March. I can't wait for my next leadership oppurtunity so I can act on what I was told I can improve on.

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