Monday, July 10, 2017

Day 5 in Jerusalem

Today we visited Har Herzl and the Yad Vashem museum. We had closing ceremonies at the international shabbaton and then we drove to har herzl.

At Har Herzl we visited Theodor Herzls grave and learned about modern Zionism and it's relationship to Israel today. We learned about Herzls idea of Judenstaat, or the Jewish state and how Herzls ideas were not accepted in the 1890's. Next we visited graves of soldiers and important political figures in Israels history. Many streets were closed off due to Prime Minister Netanyahu's brothers memorial ceremony later tonight. Har Herzl was decorated in beautiful flowers and trees. When we looked off the railing at multiple points we could see Jerusalem. Also, I found it interesting that all of the graves were the same size to demonstrate equality. 

We had lunch and walked to Yad Vashem. We met our tour guide and started our tour on the interior of the museum. We learned about mostly polish Jews in chronological order, starting with daily life before the war. I found it interesting that she chose to start the tour with information before the war started because that is something we have not learned in school. The museum was interactive with multiple videos of the holocaust and interviews with survivors. The artifacts, replicas and interesting architecture made the museum interesting to follow along with. The most emotional part of the museum was the children's memorial which brought our cohort closer together by supporting each other. 

Next we drove two hours north to Karmiel for opening ceremonies of community week. It was amazing being reunited with our Israeli friends/family. I was so excited to meet my host family and I had a great night at her house. All of the fellows were so excited to shower, have wifi and do laundry.

- Maya Klapper

Friday, July 7, 2017

Jerusalem days 3 and 4

Today was our first day in Jerusalem. First we went to Mt. Scopus to see the city from up above. We then headed over the old city where we got to walk through the alleyways where all the different markets were. It was a cool experience to get to see objects from so many different religions and cultures. We then headed over to the Christian quarters and went into the church which showed where Jesus was crucified, laid down, and buried. After that we walked around some more getting to see so many different sights. 

We then had an hour to get lunch in the Jewish quarters. I personally went to a small Italian restaurant where we ate pizza and extremely good humus. After we got ice coffee for only 5 shekels!! 

We then changed and went to the Western Wall. People have different ranging experiences, some people felt a deeper connection then they thought they would, some felt underwhelmed as they didn't have a deep connection, and some felt exactly as they thought they would. But no matter personal feelings, it was so cool to get to see a place that our ancestors were at 2000 years ago. 

After walking around other parts of the wall, we got back on the bus and headed to the time elevator. The time elevator was a 4D movie that explained the history of Jerusalem. After we had some time to get ice cream or aroma (a really good coffee shop) and of course i had to get my second ice coffee of the day. 

We then discussed our experiences at the Wall and got on the bus where we went to dinner at Harutzim, a restaurant that employs people with special needs. We all ate a nice meal family style while supporting this amazing organization. After dinner, we to the kibbutz which was hosting us for the next two nights. We had a nice maagal and then went to bed. Overall it was a super exhausting, but fun day!!

- Abby Adelman

After an intense day in the old city of Jerusalem, the second day of Jerusalem was more about the conflicts between the people in Jerusalem and all of Israel. First, Pittsburgh cohort and I started they day off with a great breakfast in Tzuba. Then, we headed off to a mountain outside of Jerusalem that was controlled by Jordan before 1967. The view on the mountain was great and we all learned the stories and struggles between the Israelis and Arabs in the region. This was a great experience, and it was eye-opening to realize how many people have ruled over the land we were looking over Jerusalem on.  

Next, we headed to another view overlooking Bethlehem. We learned about why the security wall on the southern part of Jerusalem was constructed. The wall was created to prevent many terrorist attacks, but it also separated to Arab settlements. We looked at both opinions of the wall and why the Arabs disliked the wall, and why the wall was necessary in Jerusalem. This was shocking to learn that Israel was completely divided in its own country. 

For lunch we went to Machne Yehuda market which was quite the experience. Everyone got the opportunity to walk around the market and absorb the culture of Israel. Many of the fellows bought fresh fruits and sweets to enjoy. This was very fun to witness Israeli culture as well as trying to barter and communicate with Non-English speakers. 

We headed to a workshop in Gesher about the problems in Israel. Many people, including myself, realized thy had opinions about debated topics in Israel even though these topics wouldn't  affect them. The next thing we did was an Acrobalance workshop near the hotel we stayed in which was in Tzuba. This workshop taught us ideas about trusting one another and communication while also being very fun. 

We had dinner at the dining hall in Tzuba, and then we got prepared to listen to an orthodox women speak about her opinions on Israel. Little did we know that the Diller cohort from Bruno's Aires was gonna listen to this women speak. Once we got the building, it was so cool to meet the Argentinians. The orthodox women spoke to us about her thoughts about how no one was considered Jewish until they separated Shabbat completely from every other day. She also said that no one could be considered Jewish unless they followed Orthodox practices. This women angered almost everyone in the cohort, but she then revealed she was an actress and then acted out 3 others personalities that were based off of real people. The second personality was about not having a two state policy and completely taking over the old city of Jerusalem. The third personality was about how a two state solution was the only way to have peace with the Arabs in Israel. The last personality represented a Palestinian women and she represented her strong distaste to the Jews. After she acted out her four personalities, she told us that all of these personalities were based off of real people that the woman had interviewed. This speaker was really cool to listen to because she gave us the many views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

We, then, had a reflection and a Maagal and wrapped up the day. Today was a great day that many people learned from, and I am excited for the International Shabbaton.

- Gabe Riberi 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Days one & two of the Israel Summer Seminar

After a taxing 10 hour fight, Diller cohort 8 finally landed in Tel Aviv. We had the opportunity to travel to the border of the Gaza Strip and meet with an artist who was attempting to decorate the wall dividing the two lands. following that, we arrived in the Negev and Tel Sheva, a Bedouin community. An Arab Bedouin woman named Miriam spoke with us about becoming a self made woman in a restrictive, gender-based society.

While the group of 20 likely had a ~collective~ 10 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours, this was the perfect intro to Israel. We got to experience the lifestyles of Israeli citizens from the start, with people both Jewish and Muslim. We saw the divide between the communities, but we also saw them being drawn together peacefully.

Israel has been an eye opening experience thus far. our cohort has bonded as we've experienced this magnificent country together. while trying new foods, learning a new language, and forging new experiences, we've inadvertently strengthened our relationships with one another.

- Natalie Daninhirsch

Day 2

After waking everyone promptly at 5:30 AM and eating some light snacks, the cohort participated in a quick game of tag to wake everyone up. We loaded up the bus and set off on our way. Today was going to be quite the adventure. Due to immense heat of 115 degrees F, the travel authority forbade all tourists from hiking, and warned against severe dehydration. So, when we arrived at our first stop for the day, we took the cable car up Masada. Once at the mountain top, our tour guide Jamie led us through an interactive telling of the story of the once great fortress. We learned Jewish history unknown to many in the cohort, and although the sad truth of the story, the value of a Jewish state. 

After immersing ourselves in the fantastic view and drinking plenty of water, we made our way to the Dead Sea. There we enjoyed a quick lunch and the once in a lifetime experience of floating at the lowest point on earth. Thoroughly exhausted by the heat and long day already, the cohort made its way to the fresh springs of En Gedi. There, we hiked for a short while until we reached the beautiful pure waterfalls of the desert oasis. We laughed and rejoiced in the water, happy to finally cool off. When leaving to walk to our nearby youth hostel, the cohort ran into some familiar faces from Pittsburgh. We chatted for a bit with Rabbi Gibson from Temple Sinai and Maya's grandparents who happened to be with him on the trip. After some hugs and pictures, we made our way to our hostel for the night, appreciating the pleasant view of the sea from outside our rooms. We preceded to eat dinner and have a Fourth of July party as a cohort. We ended the night with a ma'agal and plans for Jerusalem tomorrow.

- Evan DeWitt

Friday, January 27, 2017

Diller Values in Action

Hi, I’m Allie, and I was a fellow way back in Cohort 5 and a JC for Cohort 6! I’ve said this before and it sounds cheesy and a bit crazy, but I really truly believe that Diller made me the person I am today. It taught me not only about leadership and Judaism and Israel and Tikkun Olam, but also about connecting to others and pursuing my passions. In Diller I formed relationships with so many incredible people, people that have inspired me and continue to inspire me with their intelligence, passion, creativity, and genuinity. Something I value so highly about Diller is that it brings together such a diverse group of people, which I think is so important in building communities based upon empathy, compassion, and respect. With these values so ingrained in my core beliefs, the past few months have been truly upsetting and terrifying. But even when I’ve felt the most hopeless, I’ve always believed there are people out there who too are caring and determined to make a change. I heard about the Women’s March on Washington shortly after the election, and immediately knew this was something I had to do. Since being fellows together in Cohort 5, Elly has been one of my best friends and someone who shares my passion and commitment for following our dreams and standing up for what we believe in. When I mentioned the march to Elly she immediately started planning all the details of how we’d get there and make it a reality, and so finally on January 21st we found ourselves in DC surrounded by the most incredible, proactive, and dedicated people I’ve ever seen.

The Women’s March on Washington last Saturday was unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. Even now, a few days later, there aren’t quite words to describe how incredibly powerful it was for over half a million women, men, and children to come together and march for what we truly believe in. One of the most striking things was that while each person was there for their own unique reason, all were there to stand up for one another and support one another in this march for equal rights, women’s rights, and human rights. Much like the Diller family, this march in Washington and all over the world was and will continue to be one of support and one of change. As Allie Papernick, a fellow in Cohort 6, beautifully reminded me, we are here to “make the world a better place”. Tikkun Olam. As women, as Jews, as former Dillers, and as future leaders we feel a responsibility and an obligation to stand up for what is right. We are not complacent and we refuse to sit back and let our rights and the rights of minorities be disrespected and trampled upon. In Diller we learned to take action, and in this new community of activists that we’ve joined we are putting these leadership skills into action to stand up for what we believe in.

Out of all the frustration and negative rhetoric of the past few months, the Women’s March on Washington stands as a beacon of hope and action for the future. But most importantly, this march was not an isolated event, it was the start and the end. As one of the most memorable signs we saw at the march put it: “This is not a moment. It’s the movement.” This is a call to action, and as we’ve been inspired we hope the rest of the community and the rest of the world are inspired to take a stand and stand up for those that need our voices, our abilities, and our leadership.

-Allie Shepard and Elly Silberstein
Pittsburgh Diller 2015 Cohort 5