Good morning and happy start to the new week everyone!
All of us Career Israelites just returned from a fun and adventure filled trip to the Dead Sea. On top of the scenery being BEAUTIFUL (where else do you think they would take us!?), we all had an amazing experience meeting Israeli youths from around the country during our weekend dialogue seminar. We stayed at a Hostel on the beautiful Ein Gedi plain, overlooking the Dead Sea and getting a clear view of the Jordanian border (you could even see small Jordanian villages in the distance… wow!).
Capping off our fun filled weekend were “ice breakers” with all the Israelis – we were all split up into several groups. Once again, these games may seem childish, but they really helped everyone get to know each other and they were actually very informative and fun at the same time!
What was very unique and special about the dialogue seminars were that they were split up into three unique parts – 1, 2, and 3 (of course). Each part had a different “theme” – almost all of them being political. Most of the topics had to do with being an Israeli Jew versus being a Diaspora Jew – topics mainly avoided in many Jewish circles.
The heaviest and most heated meetings were the second and third ones – this is where most everyone laid their opinions out on the table regarding such topics as: Who is a Jew, Diaspora vs. Israeli Jews, the most important aspects of Jewish life, and even some political debates. While barely everyone could agree on anything (since when have Jews and Israelis ever been able to agree?) all of these debates were extremely beneficial because they gave us Diaspora Jews insight into the vast array of Israeli opinions as well as new perspectives towards various issues.
The third seminar was extremely heated – this was almost entirely dedicated to political issues facing Israel and the Jewish people today. Arguing happened almost immediately (in true Israeli fashion) and there was very little “order” – meaning everyone interrupted each other. But wait! This particular session was successful because of the fact that is was chaotic! We’re in Israel now – since when is life “orderly”? It was truly fascinating hearing everyone’s opinions on subjects ranging from the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, gay marriage/abortion/intermarriage, and the the culture of Israel.
On top of all this, all of us and the Israelis really bonded and had a great time hanging out on Friday night along with a delicious Shabbat dinner – the Hostel really knew how to make food!
And did I mention that we got to go hiking and swim in the Dead Sea? We even got to see some beautiful natural desert springs that were only minutes away from the Hostel! In two days SO much happened!
Now that the new week is in full swing (its merely beginning for all you outside of Israel), we all have Passover to look forward to, and its very interesting seeing all of the different Jewish sects preparing for it – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Secular. Plus, Passover is a huge travel week – so many people are leaving the country for the first time since the beginning of the program to go to nearby countries!
Me, I’m getting a host family (provided by the lovely Career Israel staff) and will probably do some traveling within Israel. Whatever the path – we’re all going to have a great time during Pesach.
Stay tuned soon for my reports on my Passover adventures with my host family and other news regarding Career Israel.
Cheers and have a great week everyone!