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Impact Israel

Update #5

Posted on 07/14/2011 @ 06:09 PM

Children are our Future

When entering my assigned room at the Beit Ginsberg Community Center in Tiberias, I was overcome with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. I do not speak Hebrew and I was assigned the oldest group of children. How was I supposed to communicate when I could barely ask their names?

We all struggled through icebreakers while the soldier in charge translated for both groups. Next we split up the group to do some arts and crafts, and my panic set in yet again. In a few minutes I realized how futile my worries were. Children are so open - a smile and a nod to demonstrate your understanding are sufficient responses.

I connected with a nine year old named Lihi, and although she did not speak English and I did not speak Hebrew, we managed to understand one another. A simple one word response on my part would prompt paragraphs from this adorable child. She understood everything I wanted to say, but could not verbalize...and I understood her. The idea that across the world a little girl could understand everything about me and all the thoughts I could not express is simply unbelievable. Yet I witnessed this with my own eyes. It truly was an experience that changed me; it renewed my faith in the abilities of humans to be compassionate and connect with each other. In short, it was MAGICAL.

- Mariah Genis

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Update #4

Posted on 07/11/2011 @ 06:09 PM

Shabbat in Jerusalem

On our first Shabbat, we warmly welcomed Helen, a social activist who brought forward four different view points and four different and distinctive characters. We were taken on an unexpected and shocking journey as we were engaged in her many realistic outlooks on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

Helen first introduced herself as an ultra orthodox woman, and a religious extremist. She expressed that she believed that the land of Israel will not be the true "Holy Land" unless and until every Jew practices the Jewish religion strictly as written in the Torah. It was a very touchy subject for many of us and our reaction to her was a strong one.

She then removed a layer of her costume to reveal herself as a more secular Jewish woman who would support Israel wherever she went. Her views on the Conflict were not quite as extreme.

To our great surprise, she stripped yet another layer of clothing off to reveal a "not so observant" Jewish woman. Her views were more laid back and showed us yet another point of view regarding the conflict.

Her last character was an Arab woman, and she expressed her yearning for equality among the Arab and Jewish people in Israel. It was interesting to hear from a non-Jewish perspective.

Finally, Helen revealed her true identity and wrapped up a very moving and inspiring session.

~Arielle Opler

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Update #3

Posted on 07/07/2011 @ 06:09 PM

Shalom Family and Friends!

We've now posted more photos from our trip! You can take a look at what we've done so far in the Impact: Israel Photo Gallery.

Best, Rona & Rob

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Update #2

Posted on 07/06/2011 @ 06:09 PM

Dear Friends & Family,

After a long and exhausting plane ride, the Impact Israel crew safely landed in the Holy Land. On Wednesday, our first full day with minimal jet lag, we explored the many attractions that the Old City of Jerusalem has to offer. We started our day with a trip to the Tower of David museum, where we learned about the history of Jerusalem, and the many nations that have conquered it throughout the years. Although we focused on the Jewish people's role throughout time in a secular manner, interestingly enough, the museum caters to other populations as well in order to educate as broad an audience as possible. The museum not only gave the group an education about the city that we had previously not known, but allowed us to see a 360 degree view of both the Old and New City. We also had an opportunity to meet with Itai Ravid, Assistant to the President of the Supreme Court Israel. We were allowed to sit in the largest of the court rooms in the new Supreme Court building and discussed the differences in the legal systems in Israel, America and Canada. A workshop on the importance of community service and a surprise shipping trip ended our first Impact Day.

Friday, the director of Ir Amim, an organization dealing with Israeli/Palestinian issues in Jerusalem, spoke with us at the hotel. We discussed the problems with the current borders of Jerusalem, the history of the borders, as well as solutions for the future borders. Following that, we went to a promenade with a view of not only Jerusalem, but the security gate and Jordan valley as well. This allowed us to apply the knowledge we gained earlier in the morning. We further investigated political conflicts through modern and abstract art and sculpture at the Museum of the Seam. Lunch was eaten in the busy Jerusalem market, after which we met a young university student who talked to us about the employees' rights and the wrong doings of some employers in Israel. This taught us that even the smallest adjustments within a community may lead to a larger reaction. At the end of the long day, some of us chose to return to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat, while others went on to visit "the Kotel" or Western Wall for a final end of day prayer. Thus far, the trip has already made a positive impression on every participant!

Emily Hollander and Emily Schreck

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