A great day of learning and being in Jerusalem. The weather here is glorious – sunny and warm. After a slow morning of t’filah adventures and lunch on our own, we set off together for the Israel Museum which is conveniently open on Shabbat. Most of us had not been there since it was redone. We had a fascinating walk through select sections, including the Israeli art wing and a permanent exhibit devoted to Jewish life. We had some stimulating conversations along the way about Jewish identity, Israeli identity, the purpose and design of museums, just to name a few of the ideas discussed. Since one of the goals of this trip is to teach rabbis how to lead groups in Israel, many good ideas were presented about how to take different kinds of groups through the museum. Coincidentally, as we entered the museum, we coincidentally ran into our colleague from Mevasseret, Rabbi Maya Leibovich.
From there we went to a beautiful site near the Tayelet, overlooking Jerusalem. Instead of the regular tourist discussion of what’s where, we focused on the security wall barrier, visible from where we stood, and discussed the geopolitics of Jerusalem specifically and Israel in general. Our guide was a great model of how to lead a sophisticated, nuanced conversation about these issues, in all their complexity, with our groups.
Next we went back to the hotel for an interesting program led by David Leichman, from ARZA, in which he modeled the kind of mifgashim he leads for groups. Along the way he made us do some thinking about identity and other issues related to Israel. That was followed by Havdalah, led by Rabbi Miri Gold. As Rabbi Leah Berkowitz tweeted earlier this evening, Rabbi Gold was the third of the first generation of Israeli women rabbis we’d met over the course of 24 hours.
Our final program for the evening was a meeting with Tali Levanon, from the Israel Trauma Coalition. She gave a disturbing but powerful presentation about trauma in Israeli society, focusing on what has been happening in the S’derot and other southern areas but also talking about the impact of terror and war in general on the population. It was interesting to learn that in addition to the important work she and her colleagues are doing within Israel in terms of educating the government, the medical system, and the education system about treating the needs of those who experience trauma, they also take their knowledge abroad and share it in other crises. She spoke of traveling to Haiti after the earthquake, Japan after the recent events there, and most recently to New York after Hurricane Sandy to help train first responders and community leaders about how to respond to trauma.
It was hard to transition after that presentation, but we know we will speaking much more about this tomorrow as we head down south. With a great deal of new information and questions to think about, we set off to experience Motzei Shabbat in a reawakening Jerusalem. Lilah tov!