Monday, December 29, 2014

Haifa Community Week: Sunday 12.29

Cohort 5 Israel Winter Seminar
Haifa Community Week: Sunday, December 29th
By Hillel Maroun

This Sunday, all of the Boston Dillers met for the first time since the weekend and shared countless hilarious pictures and stories after not seeing each other for a couple days. After spending a free shabbat with our Israeli hosts, we returned to planned activities with Liana and continued to explore Haifa.

We started the touring off by visiting a Carmelite Monastery, which is a really cool example of the diversity Haifa has to offer. The fact that it was one of the highest buildings on the Carmel mountain exemplified how not only Jewish residents of Haifa have the best real estate and views, which we continued to realize after visiting the Baha'i Gardens.

A beautiful 18 terraced shrine for a Baha'i faith leader's tomb, the Gardens are situated in the center of the city and occupy a large swathe of very desirable land that could be used for stores or apartments. The whole garden is symmetrical, beautifully landscaped, and extremely peaceful. The Baha'i faith's values are well represented by the garden. We learned that they believe in the unity of all humans: equality and freedom for all.

This equality is extremely prevalent in Haifa. In the German colony, where we had a brief lunch and opportunity to shop, there are Arab villages situated next to the German area, next to Jewish homes and all next to the Baha'i garden.

Towards the end of the night, the Israelis Joined us, and we met with Liana's old professor at the University of Haifa, Yisrael Ne'eman. He gave a fascinating talk about the Israeli elections, operations in Gaza, and regional politics. He knew so many statistics, numbers, and facts, and could give detailed answers to any questions we asked.

Finally, we met with entrepreneurs who participate in the Boston-Haifa connection, who were building useful projects that were helpful to all sorts of demographics and companies. One of the projects was mapping real time air pollution in cities around the world and providing the data to help improve air quality for residents and to help educate the public about the pollution in their area.

Sunday provided us with a very eye opening view of Haifa, and helped us understand that Israel isn't only a "war-torn" country portrayed by the media, but rather a beacon for diversity and coexistence.

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