Thursday, February 11, 2010

A LOT of Catching Up to Do - Israel Today Seminar (I'm so behind!!!)

Last you heard from me, I was home from Italy and in the middle of Israel Today Seminar. The Seminar was great. I enjoyed much of the programming, learned a little, and had some fun experiences. After that, it was time to head south for our Southern Tiyul. In order to catch up quickly on over two jam-packed weeks, I'm going to simply cut and paste the schedules from those two weeks and give my own explanation on them. In some cases, we had multiple options, I'll only write what I chose.

Sunday January 31

8:00 Shacarit

8:45 Breakfast

9:30 Lecture on Israeli current issues Editor in Chief of the Jerusalem Post

The talk was interesting, though I disagreed with many of our speaker's points. I don't believe it was actually the editor-in-chief of JPost because that is David Horovitz and our speaker was named Jeff Barak. My biggest issue with him was his view on Israel's demographic problem. My views are colored, for better or worse, by this article, which I read on

12:00 - 3:00 the Menachem Begin Center

The Begin Center was really cool. Unfortunately, I was exhausted and fell asleep during the movie at the end. I definitely need to go back and do some independent reading on Begin in addition.

4:30 Panel discussion on the Israeli Army

This was a great program planned by Cori. Cori, Elkana, Nadiv and two of Cori's friends answered questions that Cori had written about their experiences in the army and then fielded questions from us. In particular Cori's friend Brian gave very candid answers which painted a sometimes haunting picture of what it meant to serve in the IDF during a major operation, in this case Cast Lead.

6:30 Dinner

Free evening

Monday February 1

7:30 Shacarit

8:15 Breakfast

9:00 – 3:00

Option 1 – Israel and the environment

· Tour of Ayalon park Changed to Chava v'Adam

We went to Chava v'Adam, an environmental learning community. It was interesting to see the different ways that the residents lived and raised animals and small gardens with a minimal carbon footprint.

· Tour of Safdan water conservation plant Changed to Chiriyya Garbage Dump

Though Chara in Hebrew means "shit," apparently in Arabic it means beautiful - interesting fact. The dump is located on what used to be (pre-1948) the Arab village of El Chiriyya. There, they have all sorts of projects in place to find better ways of disposing of garbage to try and reap some benefit from it. The original mountain of garbage, now covered with grass, is being slowly converted to a park with a beautiful view of Tel Aviv. The goal is that Ariel Sharon Park becomes a beautiful nature reserve and promenade overlooking Tel Aviv.

3:00 Comics museum in Holon Cancelled

4:00 Israeli Cinema at the Holon cinematek

We watched the movie The Lost Islands. The title of the movie made the Lost clique all jump immediately. Turns out, it's named for an old Australian TV series which used to be played all the time in the summers back in the 70's and 80's when Israel only had one TV channel. The movie is about a family in that time period living in Kfar Saba and the intrigue and loss in their lives. It was excellent - very funny at first, building to a sad ending.

6:00 Dinner at Azrieli mall in Tel Aviv

For dinner, we all got NIS 35 to spend at the mall. I went with Gabe and Lainie and Ilana and a few others to a chinese place which was pretty good.

Tuesday February 2

7:30 Shacarit

8:15 Breakfast

9:00 – 3:00

Option 2 – Israeli politics

· Tour of Supreme court

The tour of the Supreme Court was interesting and something I've always wanted to do. (While looking for a site to link this blog to for more info on the Israeli Supreme Court, I came across this gem - I should have realized that the Rothschilds were actually a Masonic cult! Here's the link for more information on the Supreme Court building)

· Workshop on Israeli politics

A woman who Ariella and I recognized from Shira Hadasha spoke to us about the barriers to Israel writing a Constitution.

4:00 “branding Israel” - Ido Aharoni, Head of Brand Management Team, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cancelled

Trip to Gush Katif Museum - What I expected to be the least interesting part of the day was actually a really interesting portrayal of what I've always viewed as a sort of "other side" (the former residents of Gush Katif).

6:00 Dinner

8:30 “Please Touch” Theater Company, Old Yaffo.

The Na LaGaat theatre company is comprised of deaf-blind actors. The show they put on would never even come close to being nominated for a Tony, but it touches the heart nonetheless. During the performance, entitled "Lo Al HaLechem Levado," "Not by Bread Alone" the actors prepare bread dough and bake it while telling a little bit of their personal background.

Wednesday February 3

8:00 Teffilot

8:30 Breakfast

9:30 Orientation for Kibbutz group in Ariel

11:00 Orientation for Kehilla group in Ariel

12:30 Lunch

Afternoon pack and free

On Wednesday night I finally shaved off my beard which had been growing for about 2 1/2 months. I decided that just for that night, while I went out with friends, I would keep the mustache. I looked a little something like this:

I'm posting this just so you know I'm still alive, I'll get you all up to date as soon as possible,


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