Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cohort 5 North American Seminar

Cohort 5 participated in the Diller North American Seminar from April 3rd-13th, 2014. The Haifa Diller Teens spent time in Boston exploring the city and getting to know their counterparts. We kicked off the weekend with a Shababton at Camp Ramah. We then had themed days during the week: Getting to Know Boston Day, Social Justice Day, Judaism in America Day, and Welcoming Diversity. For our fun social activity we got to enjoy a Red Sox game! Four Boston Fellows reflect below on their own highlights:

Galia Bernat, Needham: The Shabbaton, which kick-started NAS, was a truly special and eye-opening weekend. First off, by participating in workshops and activities the two cohorts were able to bond in a very short period of time. Regardless of the language barrier, meaningful friendships were able to form between everyone in the two groups. Also, by getting to know a whole new group of people, our cohort (Boston) was able to come together even more and be able to tackle problems even more effectively as one. One other significant aspect of the Shabbaton was breaking down cultural barriers between the Israeli’s and Americans. On the first day we met, we all drew what we though a “typical” Israeli teenager looked like, and the Israeli’s did that about an American teenager as well. By doing this, we were able to disprove and tackle the stereotypes that existed. We also did numerous activities discussing Judaism in America and Israel. How Judaism is seen and practiced in both countries is drastically different and it was eye opening to learn the difference in the denominations and practices in Israel versus in the US. The Shabbaton really prepared us all for the more in depth workshops that we participated in together for the rest of NAS


Emma Starr, Brookline As soon as I stepped off the bus, I realized that going to the Red Sox game with my best friends in the whole world was not going to be the same experience as going with my family. While we were getting our bags checked and going through security, I listened to the laughter of everyone. I heard the loud bursts of laughter from every single person. We walked up the stairs two by two and all of a sudden a bright light appeared out of the darkness. We all saw the giant field and the Israelis were in shock of the size and beauty. They could not take their eyes off the field as we all walked to our seats. Finally, the game started. Throughout the whole game, we were all cracking jokes and taking pictures and overall bonding. With all the rigorous programming over the last couple of days, it was nice to relax and do really fun things together.


Adin Feder, Newton: 
Hosting two Israelis at my house was absolutely the highlight of the North American Seminar. At first, the idea seemed slightly intimidating. I didn’t know if we would get along, be interested in the same things, and be able to communicate. However, from the moment I met my Israelis, I knew that my fears were unfounded. Over the course of our opening Shabbaton, I had the opportunity to get to know my Israelis, and we immediately bonded over singing some silly Hebrew songs that we all knew. Combining my Hebrew with their English allowed us to communicate seamlessly. I wanted to be able to spend as much time as with my Israelis, so once we got home from the opening Shabbaton, I moved my bed down to their room so we could stay in the same room. This worked out great, because it meant that we got to hang out with each other all the time every night, even if it meant that I was doing my homework while they caught up on the Israeli news. It was incredible how much we had in common. Besides for our mutual friends in Israel and America, we had very similar experiences and ideas, and had a great time discussing and debating a whole range of issues. It was fascinating to get the perspective of my peers from Israel, and to get to know them on a really special level, like family. We’ve stayed in touch since NAS, and
I can’t wait to see them this summer 
in Israel!

Josh Perlmutter, Holliston:
The West Roxbury youth group program was eye-opening for me.  I had never met other teenagers before who have lived such different lives than I have.  I enjoyed the discussion circles and the ice breakers that we did together.  In the discussions, I learned that not everyone in Massachusetts is able to attend good schools and I also learned about neighborhoods that can be dangerous, a concept almost alien to a suburban resident.  But even though these teenagers have hard lives, they seemed upbeat and capable of overcoming obstacles.  They were bright, charming, and friendly.  This exercise was a great way to see how others live.