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

Monday, July 11, 2016

Israel Day 3

    In Israel, you know it’s gonna be an amazing day when you’ve got a pack of magical unicorn stickers and the glorious promise of air conditioning in your future. It was with these two facts that I began my day as Nachson in the throws of the Negev’s searing heat.

     Wake-up went as planned at 7:00. Breakfast, too, except for Alex Cohen’s scarring yogurt experience. We still don’t know if that strawberry substance was yogurt or sour cream. May the Great Yogurt Debate of July 8th, 2016, ring in our memories forever. Despite the ensuing existential crisis, we boarded the bus to Jerusalem on time and readied ourselves for an amazing day via Jen’s playlist and Jess’s speakers. I used the bus’s intercom and felt like a special snowflake. Life was good.

     And then it got better. Mount Scopus was breathtaking, and the stickers I brought as a treat-a reminder of our elementary school pasts as we delved in Judaism’s rich past in Jerusalem-went over nicely. I promised the six specialty unicorn stickers to those who kissed my rear-end the most. Profuse complimenting of me (all of it completely unexpected and totally humbling) and dog fights ensued. Pittsburgers love their unicorn stickers.

     But I digress. After our initial glimpse of the ancient city, we hiked to a beautiful park within it and had a blast during our ODT; a series of bonding and communication enhancing games led by a dynamic Israeli leadership duo. AKA: Kennes prep.

Then, finally, we drove to our home for the next three days, luxury Ramat Rachel hotel, and settled in for the roller-coaster ride that is the meeting of over 250 Jewish teens in one contained space (also known as Chaos). Color groups established, each containing around 20 Diller Teens from around the world, we moved on to an extravagant Shabbat celebration, complete with a beautiful White Shabbat Parade (so named after the white outfits we’re required to wear for it), much shouting, and even more dancing. The evening was concluded with an amazing feast, a touching Ma’agal, fun games with the other cohorts, and the distribution of long-awaited unicorn stickers. Not bad at all. Only draw back: I lost a bet to Jordan Taxay and had to carry around his stupid horrible disgusting overly-fondled orange Floam. Ah well. Life can’t always be strawberry yogurt and unicorn stickers. But in the end, I had another beautiful day, with beautiful people, exploring a beautiful city. And I can’t wait for the next one.

- Emily Csonka