Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Weekly Report: 24/05/2012

Dear Parents, Sniffim and Shnatties. Shalom Rav,

We began the week with the celebration of Yom Yerushalim (Jerusalem Day), it is a day where the people of Jerusalem finish working early and go out to the streets to sing and dance.
Here a few fun facts about Jerusalem that were posted in this week's newspaper in light of Yom Yerushalim.
Jerusalem is the largest city in Israel, there are 801,000 people living in Jerusalem (back in 1948 there were only 82,900 people), during the past year 10,000,000 people have visited the Kotel (in 2005 only 2,000,000 people visited(

This week we also celebrated Students Day, each University dedicates a day to their students, the student council organizes a huge concert inviting many Israeli singers/bands to play.

This past Tuesday we went to the closing ceremony by MASA, there three very interesting panels, the first guest speaker was Rona Ramon, the widow of Ilan Ramon who was Israel’s first astronaut. The second panel consisted don Tal Brody an American immigrant that had a bright future in the NBA and instead came to Israel and did wonders for the Israeli Basketball, today he is an Ambassador of Goodwill for Israel, Yael Arad, a Judoka who was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal and Keren Leibowitz who is an Israeli swimmer for the special Olympics that has won many medals (she was injured during her IDF service and she is paralyzed in both legs), not only is she a great swimmer but she is also a single parent for two sets of twins
For the third panel the invited Natan Sharansky, today he is the chairman of the Jewish Agency, he was imprisoned in USSR for being a Zionist activist it was very interesting to hear his story.

For the second part of the event the Prime Minister of Israel was invited to give a speech, which was followed by an amazing performance by Mayumana, as someone that has never seen them perform and that doesn't really like modern ballet, I was mesmerized with their performance
We are going to finish the week with a Shabuot 3 day seminar, we are going to leave this Friday and go up north we are going to combine hikes, camping, and shabuot.

I am attaching pictures form Etgar's northern tyul and from the MASA event, you are more than welcome to join our facebook group and see more pictures. I am also attaching some pictures that Rebekkah Karp sent.

I want to wish all a great weekend, Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shabuot Sameach,


Weekly report by Etgar

Sitting on Kathryn’s bed, in our pajamas, feet cold due to the air conditioner, a funny smell wafting in from the kitchen where Naomi is attempting to replicate Hollywok sauce, we are:
Discussing the events of the week.
Kitty: “Wow, I learned so much Hebrew today! I can now talk about where I’m going, what I’m going to do, and what I had to eat for lunch, but only in the present tense.”
Rebekkah: “How interesting! What did you think about the class with Neil Lazarus? Hearing about all those different types of anti-Semitism was eye-opening.”
Kitty: “It really made me think about the political situation and how it relates to Jews worldwide and Israel.”
Rebekkah: “It’s much more complicated than that.”
Kitty: “What do you mean? It’s just The Conflict.”
Rebekkah: “Let’s step away from rhetoric and look at the facts on the ground. We know that there are many types of anti-Semitism. We know how it relates to us and to Israel.”
Kitty: “We know it affects the Jews as well as the Palestinians. And the best part, we now know how to combat anti-Semitism!”
Rebekkah: “And what about that Tanak class? Talking about King David and that one guy…”
Kitty: “Yea, he cursed the king, but he was conniving and almost evil.”
Rebekkah: “Yea, what was that weird part about him begging for forgiveness with an entire army standing behind him? That’s just not cool.”
Kitty: “What an interesting session that was. What did you do that night?”
Rebekkah: “I went to a student concert with Dan R and Josh. There were thousands and thousands of people there to see some of the biggest bands in Israel. We even saw Hadag Nahash!”
Kitty: “I went to the Old City with some friends from Machon where we met an interesting rabbi and had a chance to visit the Kotel and see the festivities of all the people celebrating Yom Yerushalyim.”
Rebekkah: “I heard Jeffrey tried to find the folk-dancing, but it wasn’t actually happening so he had intellectual conversations with HUC students about the controversy of Yom Yerushalayim.”
Kitty: “How did you like your first visit to Yad v’Shem, the Holocaust museum and memorial, on Monday?”
Rebekkah: “The tour was a bit dry, but I loved the memorials. They were all so interesting and emotional.”
Kitty: “Yea, I wish we had time to walk around the museum by ourselves. I liked Jeff’s program after because it had been a long day of being bombarded with information and it was nice to be able to process thoughts. How was your Hebrew class Tuesday morning?”
Rebekkah: “I love it, we’re all able to speak in past, present, and future tense, and we can demand things in Hebrew now.”
Kitty: “We learned how to say things belong to people. HaMachshev HaNayedet sheli po. That means, “My laptop computer is here.”
Rebekkah: “What did you think of the movie we watched afterwards?”
Kitty: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of my absolute favorite movies. I can say almost every line.”
Rebekkah: “And the Masa event we went to Tuesday night? I found all those motivational speakers interesting, but I thought Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu’s speech was thought-provoking. He spoke about a lot of things like making Aliyah and the recent tragedy in Yemen.”
Kitty: “That was cool, but the dance performance afterwards was sensational! I really liked the way it was all about how everyone is an individual and they all find their individuality through music and beats.”
Rebekkah: “The bagels we got that day were delicious. You even ordered yours entirely in Hebrew!”
Kitty: “Well after the class on How to Teach Hebrew on Wednesday, I’m practically fluent.”
Rebekkah: “I’m so proud of you! What about Jemma’s program on secrets and sharing after that? I thought it was a nice thing for all us to do.”
Kitty: “It really gave us a time to think about ourselves and how we would respond to things. But Wednesday was so British! Remember the High Tea theme night? I loved your dress!”
Rebekkah: “Thank you! The scones Alyson made were delicious, and hearing even the Brits put on posh accents and talk about weird British things was such a culture shock.”
Kitty: “I’m a bit disappointed about how that night ended up. The protest we were going to was sure to help end racism against Ethiopian Jews. I wish we could have found that.”
Rebekkah: “Me too, but the park we went to was pretty cool anyway. We got really nice drinks at that cafĂ© bookstore with our friends, remember?”
Kitty: “I’m so glad we walked so much around Jerusalem that night to work off all that sugar! What did you get for breakfast?”
Rebekkah: “Tara and Alyson made me french toast and tea, but I couldn’t even wait for them to bring me a fork before I just ate it with my hands.”
Kitty: “Live Shnat! I had scrambled eggs but they forgot to bring me my tea. What else have you done today?”
Rebekkah: “I had a feedback session about Northern Tiyul-“
Kitty: “Oh my word, me too!”
Rebekkah: “And then I met with Michael about Closing Seminar Week and I made those massive signs organizing the Etgar Project. Thanks for helping me with that. We really make a great team!”
Kitty: “Sounds like everyone’s really enjoying their lunch. You know, after this week I really hope that someday we can bring peace to the children of the future.”

Weekly report by Ariel T. (Spanish speaking Machon)

¡Hola a todos!
This week's weekly report is a very special one. We, "the Spaniards", are in charge of it. Not only that, but we are writing very special news for you. This Wednesday, at around 6am, we got back from our Masa Le Polin, a very intense week in Poland. It is hard to say that we had a good time, but without a doubt we have learned a lot and gained a lot of new experiences. We left Wednesday the 16th at 1am, and that same day we landed and began our trip. Everything started in Kashimish, a Jewish neighborhood in Krakow where we walked around a Jewish cemetery and learned about the Jewish life there before and during WW2. That same day we went to Plaszow, and walked around the ruins of the work camp.

On Thursday our early day began in Birkenau, the center of reception of Auschwitz. We walked through the huge camp, heard a lot of stories, and had our own time to sit and see with our own eyes the ruins of the gas chambers. Our Hadracha was intense, we heard stories of survival, others of death, and others of hope. Us, personally, couldn't believe that we were standing in those same fields where over a million Jews were killed in the most brutal ways. Even after we left the camp, and through the rest of our trip, and even now, we still think about those images that before the trip we had only seen in pictures. That afternoon we went to Auschwitz I, which has been reconstructed into a museum. We walked around the barracks where there were piles and piles of what had been taken from the Jews at their arrival there, from suitcases, glasses, talitot, shoes (and baby shoes), to even human hair. Without a doubt, that was one of the most intense days, where we experienced all kind of emotions.

Friday, we walked around Warsaw, visited the Jewish cemetery, the biggest Jewish cemetery in Poland. As we visited a lot of graves, our madrichim told us many personal stories of people who were buried there and were important for the Jewish life in the Ghetto. After that, we went straight to the Catholic cemetery and visited the grave of Irene Sendler, a non jew who is considered a "Just among nations", who saved 2500 Jewish children during the Shoah. Later that day we visited a part of the wall in the Warsaw Ghetto, and finished our day with a very significant Shabbat in Poland, celebrating that the Jewish life there is still alive.

On Saturday, we walked around all day in the Warsaw Ghetto as it was Shabbat, and had some time to see the nice part of the city as well, in the old city. We, personally, felt very close to home as all the South Americans gazed amused at the European lifestyle. :)

Sunday we went to the Lublin Ghetto, and then straight to Majdanek, another of the horrible extermination camps in Poland. From the reconstructions that were made, we could see with our own eyes something very similar to what had been there 70 years ago. This was the only place where we saw the gas chambers and the crematorium exactly as they were, one of the most shocking images that we won't be able to erase. At the end of the journey around Majdanek, we all sat around a huge monument constructed by the Polish, of 70 tons of ashes of burned bodies covered with earth. None of us could say anything as we sat and stared at what was in front of us. To finish our day in Majdanek, us, representing Netzer, and another 10 people from the Noam Olami Movement, performed a Tekes (closing ceremony) of Majdanek.

Monday we went to Bialystok, a shteytl in Tiktin, and finally the huge forest of Lupujova. In Lupujova we had another of our most significant experiences in Poland. In that forest, the whole community of Jews in Tiktin were shot, buried, and burnt. This was only one of the thousand of unknown stories of many communities which were killed not only in concentration camps. The forest was covered in Israel flags and candles, in memory of all those whose life was taken.

Our Last day in Poland we went to Treblinka. Not much is left there other than 17 000 rocks representing communities of Europe from where Jews were deported there. Although we couldn't see many things with out own eyes, the huge amount of communities destroyed by the Nazis meant a lot for us. We walked to the stones of the communities which we knew our families came from, and had a very personal time there.

We left Poland that night, and although the many places we visited are staying there, we got on the plane very different from how had arrived. A very important part of our Hadracha there, was to reinforce that although we cant change the past, we cannot allow to come back to our communities in a passive way. We have learned a lot, not only about the past but about the values of humanity, morals, and life.

P.S. excuse us Spaniards for the spelling mistakes :)
Lots of love!

saludos a los papis y mamis y a netzer barcelona! los queremos muuuuucho!