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.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 2 of community week - Diversity

Hello everyone,

For Diversity Day, we started off by discussing different kinds of diversity in both the Karmiel-Misgav community and worldwide. We broke into groups and brainstormed different groups that live in Karmiel-Miagav with the help of the Israelis, and then compared and contrasted these groups with those that you find around the world.

After this activity, we went to Akko where we had a diversity scavenger hunt and pizzur lunch in the market. The market was very vibrant and colorful. I really enjoyed walking around and observing the atmosphere. I had a delicious falafel lunch, with some of the best hummus I have ever tasted. The market was a really fun and exciting experience.

After lunch we drove to Nahef and learned Arab history before getting to have conversations with Arab youth. All of the teenagers were extremely nice and I was able to have very interesting conversations about many different topics. I learned a lot about a topic I wasn't very knowledgeable about before and loved meeting the other teens.

We went back to Raymans for a final activity about stigmas. We started with a game about stereotypes and then made signs saying how our stereotypes don't define us. To close the day, we presented the winners of the scavenger hunt from earlier and gave them some candy as a prize. Today was both very educational but a lot of fun as well!


Shabbat at Kennes

Saturday was a very religious day for me. I started off the mor
ning at the games Shabbat where we played games and then explored a deeper meaning inside of them and how that meaning connected to the stories of the Torah. I had never done this before but the JC's, David and Antigone, made it a really cool and meaningful experience.

After that we walked through Jerusalem to the old city to the Western Wall. Led by our tour guide, Jamie, we saw the United States Consulate as well as many other landmarks as we walked through the beautiful city of Jerusalem. When we arrived at the wall, I had a moment we're I felt more connected to my religion than ever before. It was really cool.

After this the cohort traveled to Ben Yehuda street, where we did some shopping. Also, some fellows met up with friends and family, and the Taxay brothers and I bumped into our rabbi from back in Pittsburgh. Small world. After purchasing a Steeler kippa, I made my way back to the group and we traveled back to Ramat Rachel Hotel and went to bed. It was another awesome day in the Holy Land.

-Eli Izenson

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beginning of community week!

We woke up and said goodbye to all of our friends from Kennes and headed out to Yad Vashem. We toured the museum with a guide who took us on a journey through the lives of all the people in the Holocaust. After we went to the children's part of  Yad Vashem which was most meaningful for me because of all the symbolism. We got some time to reflect in our Diller journals before having lunch outside the museum. We talked in groups about our experiences and thoughts of the museum.

Then we took a short bus ride to Har Herzl and went to another museum about the life of Herzl which was basically a movie that took you through the whole museum. After we went to visit Herzl's grave and discussed some things about the importance of Herzl to the state of Israel. We also visited the graves of Jabotinsky, Golda Meir, and Yitzchak Rabin. While we did not have time to see the military section of the site we did visit a memorial to all who died in the war effort or terrorist attacks. We discussed who should be permitted to be part of the memorial and whether Arabs who died in terror attacks should be honored there.

After we finished at Har Herzl we boarded the bus and drove the 3 hours to Karmiel Misgav. It was a long journey full of excitement to finally see our Israel counterparts so when we finally pulled into Raymens everyone ran out and hugged all the Israelis. Our hosts helped us bring our bags in Raymens and there we met our families that would become our own in the upcoming weeks. 

We sat down with the families and were treated to a potluck dinner from all the host families. Everybody was full by the end of the meal and went to their new homes happy. I think it's safe to say that everybody is very excited to spend lots of quality time with our host families in the next few days.

- Yael Perlman

Day One of ISS

Hey yinz in pgh!!

We've had an amazing trip thus far!  It's been full of breathtaking views, meaningful discussions, and lots of laughs.  Our first two days of the trip felt like one 48 hour day because of the plane ride. When we got to the Ben Gurion airport, Chris, Jess and David greeted us.  We immediately headed into the Negev-- a seemingly weird place to start a trip to Israel, right? You think we'd choose to start in Jerusalem, or maybe Tel Aviv.  Throughout the day tried to understand why we would start in the middle of the desert in Beer Sheva.

Our first stop was cafe Ringlebaum for lunch, a restaurant in a troubled neighborhood that employs at risk teenagers in order to give them a sense of responsibility and order in their lives.  Next we headed to Abraham's (supposed) well and learned all about his journey towards accepting monotheism. What I took away from this was that while we don't have empirical proof that biblical passages, characters, or their locations are remotely true, we as Jews can still derive immense value from speculative stories.

 Finally, we visited Ben Gurions tomb.  His tomb is unique because the scenery steals the show from his modest grave, indicating that he valued the state of Israel over himself.  We headed back to the hostel where we had dinner with the San Fran cohort.  Meeting other dillers was so cool and got us all excited for Kennes where we will meet even more young Jewish leaders. We had maagal under the stars, during which we were all severely jet lagged.  It was a peaceful end to a hectic day!  By the end of the day we had all realized that the Negev may not be Israel's tourist oasis, but it is the appropriate place to begin any Israel trip because it is the origin of the Jewish people; it is where the father of Judeo-Christian religions took his pilgrimage and where our people lied their roots.

- Jennifer Jaffe