Robin Kahn's Blog (Our educational Director)
Shabbat Shalom From Jerusalem
Erev Shabbat, February 17, 2012
The past few days have been so busy that I’ve barely had time to catch my breath!
A few highlights from the past few days: On Wednesday lunch was at Café Resh Lakish at an organic olive oil farm, and dinner was at Café Hillel. Since most of our morning was spent at Tzipori, a town that was the center of Jewish life after the Temple was destroyed in 70CE and where the Mishnah was completed, these cafes were aptly named. (Hillel is an important figure in the Mishnah, and Resh Lakish is a key Talmudic sage.) At one point during the morning we sat in an ancient Roman amphitheatre and studied some Talmudic texts with rabbinic opinions on Jews attending theatre.
As part of our visit to Tzipori we met with Amin, an Arab whose family lived in Tzipori until the War of Independence in 1948. During the 7th century Tzipori became an Arab town. By 1948 it was the largest town in the Galilee with 5 cemeteries and 8 mosques. Amin now lives in Nazareth and shared his family’s story and his dream to live with Jews. Today Amin is a political activist. As you might imagine our visit with Amin was difficult and challenging for both him and our group. I left with mixed emotions and thinking about truth. My belief is that one-on-one conversations and building partnerships and relationships is the most important thing we can do for our community.
By looking at Talmudic leadership, Zionist leaders, leaders today and ourselves as educational leaders, the central question for our visit to Tziporri was: How do leaders respond to crisis?
We are now in Jerusalem, a city that I love being in – the sights and sounds and smells and textures are rich and vibrant! What a complex and rich city! Yesterday, Thursday, our morning sessions focused on Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem, a city with an Orthodox majority. In the afternoon we met with Yossi, a social activist from the Hitorerut, a grassroots movement. In my conversation with Yossi I began to understand why many young Israelis are leaving Jerusalem and much of our conversation focused on how leaders go about making change.
A visit to the Israel Museum asked me to consider the question: Is all Israeli art Jewish art? That set the stage for our group’s visit to an Israeli art cooperative, meeting with artists and a concert with Tzvika Pik.
Late at night, in a hotel lobby conversation with a news reporter from San Francisco, I learned about 4 issues about Israel that he believes the US media isn’t covering and should be:
-The strength of Israel’s currency
-That despite having few natural resources, Israel is strong
-The resurgence of the Hebrew language
-The development of new industry in Israel
These are some areas I hope that I hope our community can learn more about.
This morning we met with Muhammad, Issa, and Hannan, Arab educators in Abu Gosh, a Muslim town near Jerusalem. Muhammad, Issa, and Hannan spoke with us about their education system, curricular requirements and some of their pedagogy. Again I was reminded about the value of conversation and building relationships. As educators we share so many educational challenges and agree on so much. I enjoyed speaking with Muhammad, Issa, and Hannan, and appreciated their willingness to meet with our group this morning, Friday, their day off. Educators all over the globe have so much in common.
For lunch I ate very fresh pita with zaatar at Machane Yehuda and then had ice cream as I headed back to our hotel. The sun is about to set and Shabbat is about to begin.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!
p.s. Beit Midrash students, check the weather in Jerusalem....and thank you if you were one of the students who suggested that I bring warm clothes and not just shorts and T-shirts.
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