Monday, December 19, 2016

Cohort 8 December Workshop

At the December workshop, I had the privilege of exploring the basis of communication with Cohort 8. We began with a variety of activities that addressed the theme, from improv games to pantomiming. At the conclusion of each game, we would come together as a cohort and discuss the events that had just taken place. It was incredible to see how a group of games could translate into real life communication skills. In one of the activities, we were expected to build a structure from a handful of tinker toys based solely on blind instructions from a group. While it may have been a seemingly silly game, it stemmed from relevant life concepts. We discussed the probability of a situation in life that each of us will be expected to complete a task with limited instruction, bad information, or a group that struggles to work together. The activities were relatively similar in this regard, and they all explored this central theme of how we communicate to get tasks done. Chris expressed to each of us that over the course of this program, we will be expected to lead and work together in dozens of dissimilar scenarios, and how none of it will be successful without the key ability to communicate with one another.

Every time I enter a workshop, the atmosphere changes for the better. I’ve noticed our progression as individuals and as a group. We’ve become such a tight-knit cohort in merely a matter of months, and I’ve already begun to see our growth in terms of the meaningful content of this program. Our discussions, like the one from this workshop, have morphed into mature, enlightened conversations that leave us with a new perspective on life or attitude about ourselves.

What I found truly remarkable was the warm-up discussion we had about the election. We were instructed to walk around the room and choose a photo from the floor that corresponded to our feelings about the events. The cards had words and images of all sorts. I chose a card with a photograph of a one-way arrow, and expressed that I had two reactions to the card. There was my initial shock, as if my country could only go in one direction - and then there was the feeling that the only direction we could go was up. I was delighted to see that many of my “fellow fellows” were experiencing similar feelings, but each of us had such a positive attitude about our next steps. I feel incredibly blessed to be in surrounded by a group of people with similar values as my own, as well as the ability to differentiate right from wrong - and speak out when we recognize that distinction. I find it so important that teenagers are able to express their beliefs in a positive atmosphere with like-minded kids and adults.

For a brief period during the workshop, we got together to film a mannequin challenge as a cohort to introduce ourselves to our Israeli friends. I saw the crazy, silly, ridiculous sides of my incredible friends as we put together this video. I realized that we work so well together in both the structured environment as well as our down time.

I am so elated to see how we grow these next months along the course of this once in a lifetime journey.

-Natalie Daninhirsch

Workshop 3 took place at the South Hills JCC. We finally all got to see each other again, but we were unable to see Danny and Meital. We all hope to see you guys soon. The Workshop was about communication which was played through many activities during the workshop. The first thing we did for the workshop was have our Added Value team give us candy to express how to stay cool under pressure. After that, I shared an article on Jewish Conversion Discrepancies. It sparked a good conversation about the rules of becoming a jew in the Israeli state as well as everywhere else in the world. Next, Paulina gave us the Hebrew word לְעוֹרֵר which mean't spark in English. This connected to communication by showing how communication is sparked by people wanting to make a change in the world.

Then, Annabelle asked the cohort to share our thoughts on the presidential election by letting us pick Points of You cards to express our feelings. Many of us said how shocked we were, but others said that this would bring the nation closer together. I thought this was a great conversation because it gave everyone a different view of how many of us thought the presidential election went.

We then started activities that showed us the aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication. These activities were great because they showed us how we can communicate with body language and other non-verbal ways. My favorite game that we played was a game called "Murderer". The rules of the game were that one person was selected as the murderer, which was Harry, and they had to kill everyone else in the game by blinking at them. However, everyone had to walk with their head down. When we got blinked at, we had to die on the floor. I had a really fun time with especially since everyone died so dramatically. After, we discussed the communication that was made in the game. Harry said how it was very hard for him to 'kill' people because no one was looking up. He said he had to nudge people to get them to look up. Everyone else said that it was hard knowing who the murderer was and if they were signaled for death yet since their heads were down too.

Towards the end of the Workshop, we all went outside and created a mannequin challenge video in the snow. It was really funny to see some of the creative positions some of us were in. We also filmed everyone of us walking into a room to introduce us to the Israelis. Finally, we decided our roles for the 2nd Shabbaton. The Sababa team, which was the decided by the cohort, was the team that worked on the whole Shabbaton. It is the team that has the biggest role for the next Shabbaton. The cohort selected Natalie, Jordana, Evan, and Derek to all be a part of this team. Chris also explained to us the responsibilities of each team which was kind of overwhelming, but I believe that this Cohort will do a great job preparing for the next Shabbaton, Overall, this workshop taught everyone a lot on communication, Diller, and it also allowed us to bond even more with each other.

- Gabe Riberi

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cohort 8's First Shabbaton

Friday was the first day of our first shabbaton so we were still a little quiet when we got on the bus, we got to Emma Kaufmann Camp a little later so we had to run in and get right into our Shabbat  white clothing, we all went up to light our candles, then we sat in services with Rabbi Symons who had us all do a different prayer. It was really interesting to see how everyone perceived the different prayers. 

After services, we went outside took a picture and went to dinner. We had chicken, matzo ball soup, potatoes, and veggies; it was really good. Later after dinner where we got to know each other better after throwing pieces of paper at each other in a "snowball" fight. We then split up into groups and took random lines from songs and performed them. It was really cool to see how talented people are!! 

After we did a program where we took the first step in removing our masks and becoming more comfortable with everyone while getting to try on cool masks. It was the first time we really opened up to each other and it was amazing to see how comfortable we were with each other after one night. After this programming was done for the night but people still hung out and played jungle speed which got really intense. Overall it was a really good first day. 

-Abby Adelman

On Saturday, we continued to bond throughout the day. We started the day with a very Jewish breakfast- bagels. We then had a fantastic service led by Rabbi Symons, where we played with pray dough to allow us to express our beliefs through creativity. Before lunch, we had a discussion group with m&ms to share our thoughts on Israel and Judaism in an accepting way. 

For lunch we had a delicious meal of chicken nuggets and fries. Before our break, our JCs led some programs to help with teamwork. They also made a scavenger hunt where we were tied together and one team member was in a potato sack. This made us work together to overcome obstacles. 

Finally, our awesome Added Value Team made another fabulous scavenger hunt to help us get to know the camp. After this, we were given a break where we played football and cards. 

Before dinner, we had a Jewish Identity Buffet to help us figure out who we are as a Jew. For dinner, we had spaghetti and meatballs. Then, we had a beautiful havdalah service. After, we made T-Shirts where we wrote characteristics about ourselves to make us think about how we want others to view us. We also had a fishbowl circle where we helped others solve problems. Our last program was a sacred trust hike where we grew closer as a cohort. Finally, we ended the evening with an amazing round of lap tag!

- Jordana Avigad

On the last day of our first Shabbaton as a cohort, we woke up at an early 7:30 in the morning to go on an amazing caving experience at Laurel Caverns, a three-mile long cave, making it the largest in Pennsylvania.  We packed our bags and loaded them onto the bus waiting for us outside the lodge and Emma Kaufmann Camp (EKC).  After we had our breakfast in the dining hall, we packed our lunches for later after caving.  We then hopped on the bus and left EKC.  

On our arrival at Laurel Caverns, we all received our helmets for caving and put on our flashlights.  As we made our way into the cave, it began to get darker and darker until, if the flashlights were not on, it was pitch black.  The caves were amazing, and our guide, Ken, gave us very interesting information about the cave along the way.  He also told us that the cave was about 45 stories deep, making us realize how cool and almost scary it was to be down there.  In the cave, there were many difficult obstacles to overcome, like climbing up rocks, stepping over slippery rocks, and even crawling through shallow water in very tight spaces.  At one point in the caves, we had to turn off all of our lights and climb in complete darkness.  This experience, while also scary, was awesome and fun.

After we circled back to the beginning after a three-hour trip, we got changed out of our wet, muddy clothes and ate lunch outside of the caverns.  When we finished eating, we got back on the bus and were driven back to the JCC, where we said our goodbyes and left with the realization that we had bonded so much as a cohort and had had an amazing weekend.

- Derek Bashe

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Final Shabbat in Israel

On the 22nd, we began the day with one last breakfast at Tel Hai and a few teary goodbyes to the cohorts staying there with us. We then boarded the bus and headed to Tel Aviv. We stopped in the Karmel Market for a pizur lunch, and we all ate way too much shawarma. We did some shopping and then walked to the beach. At the beach, we were amazed at how big the waves were. They were easily 9-10 feet tall, and we amused ourselves by trying to get over the big waves without going underwater. People quickly got sick of the water though, and they went and took a nap in the sand. This resulted in quite a few nasty sunburns. Another thing that happened at the beach - surfing. A few fellows watched Chris and Nir wipe out multiple times while giggling hysterically to themselves. 

After that, we went back to the hotel for Shabbat. We then went to a traditional shul, where the girls wrestled with the concept of being separated from the boys and the boys weren't allowed anywhere near the ark without a kippah. It was a completely new experience that I think made us all uncomfortable but made us really think about how we view different sects of judiasm. Then, we went to the hotel for some much needed food and rest. 

Friday was a day all about relaxation and welcoming in the last part of our journey in Israel. The day wasn't crammed full of activities, and it made it easy to process the end of congress and the realization that our trip is coming to an end. Playing in the water and on the beach let us connect with our Israelis one more time, which was absolutely incredible. At the shul, we were pushed out of our comfort zones. As someone who rarely goes to synagogue (and when I do it's at a reform one) I was completely out of my element and unsure of what I was going to see. I didn't necessarily like going to the traditional service, but I disliked it a lot less than I thought I would. All in all, Friday was a good day full of fun and memorable new experiences.

- Jordan Ennis

Community Week - Tikkun Olam Day

Today, the fellows had the opportunity to give back to the Karmiel-Misgav community we’ve come to call home by volunteering with various local organizations.
      At Kishorit, we volunteered at a kibbutz for special-needs residents, building rock nests around fig saplings in their soon-to-be orchard. Working side-by-side with a few of the residents made the experience all the more meaningful as we worked to protect trees that will hopefully feed the kibbutz for generations. For two hours, we worked on our hands and knees in the dirt; hauling rocks, braving scorpions (OK, one scorpion…), and laughing together. It was so meaningful-making a difference with our bare hands in the dirt that will make many a Kishorit member smile one day.

Nitzanim is an amazing program that offers enjoyable activities for kids with special needs and also a support group for their parents. 14 fellows went to nitzanim on Sunday and we had the great opportunity to make pizzas with 4 of the kids from the program. We knew it was going to be fun because as soon as we walked through the door we were greeted with a big hug and an even bigger smile from one of the kids and he was telling us how excited he was to make pizza. We made the pizzas from scratch and got our hands a little messy and while waiting for them to cook in the oven we had a dance party. It was so rewarding because the building wasn't big or grand but seeing all the fellows and these 4 kids dancing in small room together to Justin beiber was so special and an experience that will never be forgotten. I think one of the most rewarding parts was having all the kids come up to us and give us a hug or a high five and them telling us they had so much fun with us and they can't wait to tell there parents when they get home. The pizzas we made may be gone because we ate them, but the memories will always be remembered.

One of the groups on Tikun Olam day worked with the elderly. Most of the people at the elderly home were Russian and/or holocaust survivors. The Diller fellows engaged in activities with them; such as, cards, dominoes, and music. The room was full of smiles and laughter. It was an amazing experience.

- Leo Julian, Sydney Goldberg, Emily Csonka

Sunday, July 17, 2016


"Ale!" "KRAV!"

Today was IDF day and the cohort got a taste of the life of a soldier.  First thing this morning, we went to Yad Lebanim, which is a memorial center for all of the fallen soldiers of Karmiel Misgav.  The father of one of these soldiers was generous enough to come speak to us and share the tragic story of his son.

Next, we headed to the base where Raz's father works (Raz is one of the Israeli fellows).  We got an extensive tour of the base and then ate lunch in the base dining hall with the soldiers.  This part of the day was valuable in my opinion because it gave the Americans a glimpse into the process of joining the IDF, how jobs in the IDF are designated, daily routines and responsibilities of soldiers, and a general feel for life as a "chiel".

Finally, we drove to a park where retired soldiers ran an army simulation for 3 hours; it was similar to the basic training that our Israeli counterparts did earlier this year. This was a small taste of what Israelis go through when they join the IDF. It was fun yet challenging, and we all finished feeling sweaty and accomplished.  I think that the main takeaway from today is the IDF's core value of camaraderie.  Challenging situations forge bonds between soldiers in specific divisions, but also create a sense of unity among all Israelis who have served.

- Sigalle Bahary

Nature Day

Today, the first day of community week, all of the teens participated in the Nature Day. This day was packed with fun and was a nice introduction into our time with the Israeli teens. We started off with rafting down the Jordan River. We were divided into groups of 5 people per raft and set off. After a few hours, and one rapid, we finished and ate a schnitzel lunch. Following lunch we got back on the bus and headed to the Kineret.

The second half of "Nature Day" was awesome. We went swimming in the Kineret for a few hours and relaxed on the beach. The water was like 38 degrees Celsius and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful day and it was very relaxing. The cohorts had a lot of fun goofing around in the sea and enjoyed the time to relax. It was a fun day.