Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coexistance Day and Upper Galilee Day

Sunday, July 26 - Monday, July 27
Authored by Rina Dale

On Sunday, which was Tisha be'av on the Jewish calendar, the theme of the day was coexistence. We started off in the morning with a discussion about what coexistence truly means: is it possible in Israel? In America? What can we apply it to? As one of the people leading the discussion, it was very interesting to see the contrast between what the Israelis and Americans had to say.
After our discussion, we met with two people from the Parent Circle, an organization that brings Muslim and Jewish families together who lost loved ones in the conflict. The two people we spoke to, a secular Jewish man and a Muslim woman, told the heartbreaking stories of losing their family members, and shared what the conflict was like in their eyes. During the discussion, I remembered something Liana (we miss you!) told all the Americans: to observe the Israelis' reactions to what the two people said. Part of me was shocked by the anger some of them felt towards what was being said by both of the people. After the two of them left, we had a big group discussion. The Americans could hardly get two words in. It was so interesting to see that just two hours before they were all saying that Haifa is the place with the most coexistence, and then were going on about how they felt hurt about what was said. As much as everyone wanted to continue the conversation for the rest of the day, we had to change gears and move on. 

We then had a model UN type activity run by Sonia and Itamar where we were split into groups which represented different religious affiliations: Haredim, Russian Israelis, Druze, etc. The goal was to create a school system in which all of the groups were satisfied. After a long and frustrating discussion, an agreement was finally formed where everyone got what they wanted. 

After eating a quick lunch, we went to the Arabic neighborhood of Hadar, and issued a challenge to the fellows: take a picture which captures the essence of coexistence. Everyone returned with different pictures, illustrating coexistence's many forms.
We then drove up north to visit Sindyanna, an olive oil factory which employs Arab women, and has Muslim and Jewish women working side by side. We learned the factory's mission and how they use the aspects of community and partnership to bring women together and make delicious olive oil products. Before we left we made sure to buy some olive oil and wonderfully smooth soap! 

Later on, Raz led an interesting discussion about Tisha be'av: the story behind it, why it's important, and so on. We talked about morality, and the importance of rationality and emotion. Soon after, we met with some people who work at cjp who spoke to us about being involved with Judaism and Israel, especially with the Boston-Haifa community. Then it was time to break the fast! We ate great food and talked about the day. It was a great ending to an educational and powerful day!

We spent Monday, July 27th, farther north in Israel. We drove to a stunning view of the kineret and the Syrian border, where we met with Hadas, a member of diller international staff. She told us about the origins of the land we were sitting on: how it was constantly being fought over until peace finally arrived. There has been no conflict over it since Israel gained control of the Golan Heights. We wrapped up the discussion with taking pictures, and eating fresh mango from their mango farm. We then drove to a dairy farm, who's smell was pungent to say the least. With dozens of cows surrounding us, we learned all about the history of the farm, their farming methods, and the produce they make and sell. Lucky for us, we then got to milk the cows, and give the newborn calfs water! For some people it was their first times doing both of these things, and I could see how much they were enjoying themselves. 

We then drove to a small pond where we swam around in the water (it was much colder than we expected) and ate ice cream in the sun. After leaving the pond, the staff ran a program for us called Guest and Host. We split up into two groups and talked about what being a guest or a host really means. We read some text, and discussed the topic through a Jewish lens. It was a program about self learning and where we think we each stand on the guest-host spectrum in relation to Judaism. Are we a guest or host in the religion? We ended the day early with delicious pizza and headed home after a relaxing and enjoyable day up north.

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