We are so grateful to be part of the Schultz Family Israel Educational Leadership Fellowship made possible by the Schultz Family Foundation and the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas we traveled to Israel Monday afternoon for a 10 day trip and are thrilled to share some of our adventures with you.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
We flew into Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv arriving in the late afternoon. From the airport, we got onto our bus and began to head to the northern region of Israel. On the way, we stopped at a lookout to watch the sunset and to have a few moments of reflection.
We reflected on our intentions and how this experience was made possible for all of us. The Schultz family are visionaries in Jewish and Israel education in Dallas and beyond. Not too long ago, Leslie Schultz, the matriarch of the family, passed away suddenly. Our cohort of the Schultz Family Israel Educational Leadership Fellows was one of the last projects that she was spearheading before she passed away. She has left an incredible legacy and we feel that it is our duty to make sure that the seeds that she and her family have planted continue to grow. It is in Leslie’s memory and in her honor that we are learning and growing.
This trip will go beyond what we are experiencing in Israel - this is just the beginning. The real work starts when our group gets back to Dallas and we collaborate with all of you to help Israel education come alive at Levine.
As the saying goes, “We stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.” We are lucky to have strong shoulders to stand on!
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
It is our honor to update you on day two of our experience in Israel as part of the Schultz Fellowship! After a long journey, we had a restful sleep and stay at the Merom Golan, a Kibbutz in the Golan Heights, located in northern Israel. We spent the first half of our day exploring the history of the land in this region of Israel both recent and ancient. Our morning included a tour on ATV's of the Golan to hiking in Tel Dan, described in the Bible as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel. In the Golan we saw the juxtaposition between the present tranquility with apple orchards and grape vineyards to former Syrian bunkers and a war-torn hospital that was part of the site the six-day war between Israel and Syria in 1967. The Golan and the Kibbutz there are breathtaking sites to be sure and the value of their continued existence is evident.
Our second half of the day we spent in our Dallas partnership region in the Galilee with our first stop, a tour of Tel Hai college. This center of higher education specializes in serving the entire community. We met with the educators and students there who are a part of a program that has developed a curriculum with alternative approaches to education for those with learning differences. We also met with a young woman from a local Arab community who has found a home at Tel Hai in their multicultural program. It was inspirational to see these students being given the opportunity to excel in this specialized but inclusive environment.
The day concluded still on the note of diversity and inclusion with a dinner at the Kishor winery at the Kishorit kibbutz in Western Galilee. Visiting a winery in Israel was certainly a highlight but the inspirational part of the story is the fact that the Kishorit offers a home and employment for adults with special needs. There is a job for everyone here and more importantly it offers each one of them the value of contributing to their community, creating friendships and earning a meaningful living. This is their “home for life” where they can live and become part of the community forever. Our discussion while traveling to our next destination this evening in Nahariya, revolved around the culture and spirit of the people of Israel. The land and the people of Israel face challenges, but are often met with a rare form of determination and a proactive approach to caring for the needs of all, especially the underserved in the community.
We are inspired and cannot wait to share more with all of you.
Thursday, October 11, 2018 (Click HERE to see the day's video!)
We write to you tonight from Jerusalem. We are located in the Herbert Samuel Hotel just next to the busy shops and restaurants of Ben Yehuda Street. We finished our eventful day overlooking the old city before grabbing some dinner.
What a day it was! We finished up our work in the partnership region of the Western Galilee. We began the day in Nahariya meeting with educators from the Manor Cabri Middle School, the most progressive public school in Israel. Our 8th graders will be visiting the students at this school during their trip in the Spring. Through our discussion with these educators we realized that the at Levine we already implement these pedagogies and more with our students. Our next stop was a meeting with staff and students at Nirim. Nirim is a program in Israel for at risk youth. These individuals can enter the program as young as 14 and can remain supported by the program well after completion of their military service. This population of students is made up of individuals who may have been involved with crime, drugs, abuse and other at risk factors. Attending Nirim is their last chance to change their path. Beyond teaching the typical school subjects, the students take part in wilderness training as a way of learning accountability and realizing their own success and receive support from social workers, teachers and therapists to help them through their experience at Nirim. Nirim has turned around the lives of countless Israeli at risk teens.
After our visit at Nirim we continued on to the Galilee Medical Center. This hospital is located 6 miles south of the Lebanon Border and this diverse region is only 50% Jewish. This region includes Christians, Muslims and Druze as well. The hospital serves the entire community and the staff of the hospital also reflects the diversity of the area. While each culture has its own specific villages they co-exist and work together to serve everyone. The hospital has around 700 beds above ground and an additional 450 beds underground only to be used in emergency war-time situations. In 2006, during the war with Lebanon the hospital was fully operational underground for 34 days. More recently, the hospital used its underground beds to treat victims of the Syrian Civil War anonymously to protect both the injured and their families.
At this point it was time for lunch and we enjoyed a delicious meal at Cafe Ma'arag in Kefar Veradim. Lunch followed by a tour of Ma'arag which provides work opportunities for adults with special needs. Those in Ma'arag create art through music, sewing, woodworking and ceramics to name a few. These crafts are then sold in the cafe. From Kefar Veradim we hopped on the bus and traveled down through the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem.
Today's inspiration came from the idea that we must always see the positive qualities in each other and work together to showcase them to the world. We cannot wait to share more inspiration with all of you.