Israel Reflections 2015–Day Four: Mount of the Beatitudes

First thing on Tuesday morning, we headed to the Mount of the Beatitudes. While the grounds were among the smallest we visited, the impact the Church of the Beatitudes on the students was among the largest.  Student Natalie Schiferl writes:


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Israel Reflections 2015: Day Three (almost done)–Dinner at the Baraks’

A highlight of our trip every year is the time we get to spend with Justice Aharon Barak and his wife Judge Elika Barak.  Justice Barak is the former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, hailed as the father of Israel’s constitutional revolution and even cited by Justice Elena Kagan as one of her judicial heroes.  Judge Barak was the former deputy chief of the Labor Court.  It is a truly special evening. Student Dejan Adzic recounts: One of the…

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Israel Reflections 2015 (And Some April Fools Fun): The Kibbutz

One of the ways we learned about Israeli society was to spend a few nights at a kibbutz.  A kibbutz is a collective community, traditionally based in agriculture, that was the way many Israelis used to live. Even though the kibbutz life was outside the comfort zones of some students initially, hanging out in the evenings together brought lots of laughs, memories, and a great development of our own class community.

Alexa Callahan shares one of her more humorous moments.

A kibbutz is an Israeli agricultural community where members live collectively amongst each other.  In Hebrew, Kibbutz means “gathering” and “clustering.”  We stayed at  Kibbutz Hukuk near Tiberius our third and fourth nights in Israel.  Upon arrival, the Kibbutz reminded me of summer camp.  We stayed three to a room and each group had their own individual quarters, which included three twin beds, one pillow each (Israelis must not use a lot of pillows, as there was a shortage of them throughout the whole trip), and a small bathroom that included a sink, toilet, and shower.  If you still cannot picture this Kibbutz, here is another analogy:  Have you seen “Lost”?  It is like the Dharma Initiative village, which made staying in the Kibbutz even better. (more…)

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Israel Reflections 2015 — Day Three: Yad Vashem

In one of the more emotional and difficult tours on the trip, we visited Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum and home to the International Institute of Holocaust Research. The museum itself houses hours of historical footage, video interviews, and artifacts, including the famous Hall of Names, a memorial dedicated to remembering each and every person killed in the Holocaust. Many students recounted this visit as their most touching memory.

Student Andrea Lau recalls what Yad Vashem represents and how the experience affected her:

“ה וְנָתַתִּי לָהֶם בְּבֵיתִי וּבְחוֹמֹתַי, יָד וָשֵׁם–טוֹב, מִבָּנִים וּמִבָּנוֹת: שֵׁם עוֹלָם אֶתֶּן-לוֹ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִכָּרֵת.”

Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.- Isaiah 56:5

The literal meaning of Yad Vashem is derived from Isaiah 56:5. God promised His people a place and a name that will last for all eternity. Even though millions of Jews lost theYad-Vashemir lives in the Holocaust, they will never lose their names or their place of remembrance. Yad Vashem is Israel’s national Holocaust museum and memorial, constructed to commemorate the millions of Jews that lost their lives in the Holocaust. (more…)

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Israel Reflections 2015 – Day Three: Daphna Golan and Lifta

On Monday morning, we were off for a quick stop at the open air market at Machane Yehuda and then a tour of the Supreme Court.  And then we had the distinct treat of our own personal tour of Lifta, a destroyed Palestinian village since 1948 right on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  Leading our tour was Daphna Golan, professor of law at Hebrew University and director of the Minerva Human Rights Program.  Daphna was also a co-founder of B’Tselem, one of the first human rights organizations in Israel promoting Palestinian human rights.  In short, she is a human rights activist extraordinaire.  She is also a big believer of experiential learning and decided that rather than giving us a lecture in a classroom, she would take us on a field trip.  It was amazing!


Student Adam Marshall recounts his experience:

“Our trip to Lifta was arguably the best spontaneous adventure I have ever taken. While on the outskirts of Jerusalem, we were met by Daphna Golan, who is a professor at Hebrew University. Instead of sitting in another lecture and hearing from another professor, she decided that we needed to experience this part of Israel up close. What started off as a seemingly normal walk and talk quickly turned into a breath-taking experience of a historic and neglected Palestinian village. (more…)

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