I read an article in The Times of Israel titled, "Former president Yitzhak Navon buried in state ceremony." Navon passed away on Friday at the age of 94 and was laid to rest on Sunday in the presence of many past and current Israeli leaders. It was wonderful to hear how people described him. Former president Shimon Peres said Navon “was a president of the people, not just the state." Other described him as a leader who was very courageous. I especially enjoyed reading about how his daughter described him as both her public dad and personal dad.
I read an article in The Jerusalem Post titled, "Health Scan: Newly discovered gene affects melanoma survival." The article can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Health-and-Science/Health-Scan-Newly-discovered-gene-affects-melanoma-survival-432344. The discovery of the gene could lead to a breakthrough when it comes to treating skin cancer. The gene is a tumor suppressor gene. People with the mutation sometimes have shorter survival rates. The discovery may help doctors better understand the spread of melanoma, which could hopefully lead to new treatments. The article also discusses the use of a da Vinci robot, which greatly helped an ill man from Haifa. Such an innovative device will hopefully be used to help other sick people in the future.
I read an article in The Jerusalem Post titled, 'Cornflakes reform,' expected to reduce food costs by hundreds of shekels, passes c'tee." The article can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Cornflakes-reform-expected-to-reduce-food-costs-by-hundreds-of-shekels-passes-ctee-432042. I wish the article went into a little more detail about what cornflakes reform actually entails. However, it does sound like it will have lots of benefits. It will help families save money on food costs while also increasing the penalties for related violations of new rules.
I read The Jerusalem Post article titled, "Michele Bachmann: Bring into Christianity 'as many Jews as we can.' When I first read the headline, it was honestly hard to process it. It is very important to respect all people's religions. However, it is a bit disheartening to see that Bachmann would actually make these efforts to convert Jews to Christianity, specifically if she is using the recent violent tragedies as part of her argument.
The article can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Michele-Bachmann-Bring-into-Christianity-as-many-Jews-as-we-can-432401
I read the article in The Jerusalem Post titled, "New Israeli device enables jet to take over it pilot passes out." Immediately, I thought about how amazing this technology will be once it's fully developed, especially considering recent news stories where pilots have indeed become unconscious or incapacitated during flights. I had no idea such an innovative technology could be created to push the plane into autopilot in the event the pilot couldn't fly the plane. It further shows the amazing advancements that Israelis have helped create, and hopefully, it can prevent further tragedies.
"I read an article in The Times of Israel titled, "Bus struck by rock in northern Israel," which can be found at http://www.timesofisrael.com/bus-struck-by-rock-in-northern-israel/. It is frightening to read how widespread the violence has gotten in Israel recently. While these types of attacks are fairly common in the West Bank, they are not very typical in other parts of the country. The article also discusses several other violent attacks on Israelis that happened just hours apart.
I read an article in The Times of Israel titled, "Netanyahu leaves for US ahead of meeting with Obama." While Netanyahu is in the the US, he will also meet with right and left-wing groups. Netanyahu is expected to ask for more American aid and will also discuss several key Middle Eastern issues with the President. It will be very interesting and critical to see how the two get along, especially in the wake of the US nuclear deal with Iran. Hopefully, the meeting will be productive.
This article can be found at http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-leaves-for-us-ahead-of-meeting-with-obama/.
I read an article in "The Jerusalem Post" titled, "Crowd-funding campaign launched to build synagogue for slain teen," which can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Crowd-funding-campaign-launched-to-build-synagogue-for-slain-teen-432404. It is always hard to hear about victims of violence, including Tair Rada, a teenage girl who was murdered in 2006 in the Golan Heights. However, the focus of the article is an inspiring one, discussing how funds were raised in order to build a synagogue in honor of Tair. What a beautiful way to remember someone.
I read an article in The Jerusalem Post titled, "PLO launches Hebrew Facebook page to interact with Israel Society." It can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/PLO-launches-Hebrew-Facebook-page-to-interact-with-Israeli-society-432369.
The article demonstrates yet another example of groups using social media in order to reach more people. It is troubling that the page included maps of former borders that were not indeed factual. When the information is out there, even if it's false, there is always the huge risk that people will actually believe it. The page also pushes for the establishment of a Palestinian state and, in a recent post, states, "The Israeli government must choose between peace and settlements, between security and occupation."
I took the "Habits of Happiness- Self-Esteem" class. It helped demonstrated how the meaning of "self-esteem" can often be misconstrued. People who are arrogant and need constant attention are likely people who have lower self-esteem, while it's the people who are humble that often have higher self-esteem. It is only natural that we sometimes depend on the praise of others, but self-esteem is really about looking to yourself and feeling like you are competent and worthy of happiness. It also must be rooted in reality. If you are indeed talented at something, then take pleasure in that, but not pride. You must love yourself to love others, and you should never be afraid to fail. The journal exercise was also very valuable. If you seek certain traits in others but doesn't necessarily have those yourself, then that is an area you should look to in order to help yourself grow.
I watched, "Cinema: The Jewish Lens- The Comedy of Conflict." Conflict is the root of all films. While that wasn't a hard fact to grasp, it was interesting to explore to use of drama and conflict in comedies. While watching comedies, people often laugh when the characters experience some source of pain or suffering. This can happen because in the end, everything turns out ok. The characters face huge conflicts and adversity, but the challenges are things that they are capable of overcoming. There can be parallels drawn between films and real life. G-d gives us challenges, but they are challenges that we have the capacity to beat. In Judaism, suffering is an important part of our lives. After we go through it, we learn a lesson that we will appreciate. We have to find meaning in our suffering. The Jewish people suffered in Egypt but that allowed them to bring out the best in themselves. Learning about the meaning and significance of our suffering makes it a lot easier to bear.
I completed the Israel Inside/Out class. It was amazing to see how the technological advancements the Israelis have made, including creating devices to help people walk. They take so much pride in helping others around the world, not because they expect anything in return but because they feel it is their duty to aid struggling people and nations to make the world a better place. While education and helping others is crucial, the Jews also place so much emphasis on family- the people who will always be there for love and support. The Jews are not only intelligent and proud but also resilient. Despite being threatened by so many groups of people throughout history, they will never stop fighting and will never lose their significant connection to Israel.
I watched the Hasbara Fellowships video titled, "Israel Apartheid Week, What to Do?" It can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjFB2Z4YId4. I was drawn to the video because I don't know much about Apartheid Week. Fortunately, it didn't seem to take place on my college campus, (or if it did, I certainly wasn't aware of it.) It is scary to acknowledge the reality that there are people who will spread lies and hate about Israel. As Elliott Mathias discusses in the film, there is no way to eliminate anti-Semitism. but we can all make an effort to reach out to individuals and groups to make sure they are informed of the facts.
I watched the Stand with Us video titled, "Hamas: By The Numbers." The video can be found at http://www.standwithus.com/video/?tags=hamas. It provided several troubling statistics about Hamas and violence and Israel. No matter how much you already know about the conflict, it is always painful and impactful to see the numbers right in front of you. Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel. So many innocent people have died, and Hamas leaders continue to emphasize violence and the annihilation of the Israeli people. The son of one of Hamas's founders speaks out against Hamas and its actions, which adds an even more shocking twist and provides even more credibility to the points being made against Hamas.
I read an article in The Times of Israel titled, "Israel's first lady receives her own security detail." Nechama Rivlin will now have her own guards whenever she steps out in public without her husband. It only further demonstrates the harsh realities facing Israel today, with an increased number of attacks, including stabbings in Jerusalem. I have heard about some of the recent attacks, but reading this article brought them even more to light. It was also very troubling to hear some of the verbal attacks that President Rivlin has received. With so much recent violence, it is so important for all security matters to be taken extremely seriously.
I read an article in The Times of Israel called, "Orthodox women give fashion the slip," written by Renee Ghert-Zand. The article discusses how Orthodox women have helped revolutionize fashion when it comes to the slip. The juxtaposition of the often sexy garment with the modesty of the Orthodox woman is quite fascinating. Women are wearing the garment while pairing it with heavier pieces, such as capes or heavy jackets. It was very interesting to see how Orthodox women have made such a stamp on fashion while still adhering to their modest ideals.
The "Love & Relationships" class makes several interesting points, though it also further proves the point that love can be difficult to define. The difference between infatuation and love is thoroughly described. Lori Palatnick says infatuation is counterfeit. It is much more about projecting your perfect ideals on another person, (even when they don't actually meet them.) Men and women are different when it comes to love and relationships. Women need to be loved, while men need to be respected. I also enjoyed the discussion of soul mates, even though I don't know if I actually believe in the idea of soul mates. Palatnick, as well as Rabbi Raphael and Rebecca, discuss the meaning of the word "zifug." They talk about how G-d doesn't cut the soul in half but actually breaks it into two different pieces so that soul mates have different traits. That is why opposites attract. Overall, the class brings up many interesting points (and questions) about love and relationships.
As awful as it may sound, sometimes it takes a tragedy to truly change us, to help us understand the meaning of life or the significance of appreciating every day that we have. We can see people in pain around us and think, 'Oh, that's terrible,' or 'I feel so sorry for them,' but so often, that response is followed by another thought, typically along the lines of, 'I can't even imagine what they're going through.' Sympathy is often a far cry from empathy.
Dr. Rosen was a brilliant, confident chief resident in the eyes of Jackie, a medical student who worked alongside him for six weeks. He often faced very difficult medical cases and couldn't save every patient he tried to help. Understandably, doctors like David Rosen were at times desensitized. They couldn't always see their patients as good people with loved ones. Facing that reality would make their job so much harder. It wasn't until Dr. Rosen lost his own sister to cancer that he changed- change that was apparent to Jackie simply by the change in his physical demeanor, by the lost light in his eyes. A few years after losing his sister, Dr. Rosen started teaching a seminar titled, "Morality in Medicine: How to Apply the Human Touch to Surgery." His sister's death changed his entire outlook on his career, and on his life.
Rosh Hashanah symbolizes a new year- a time for new beginnings, for change, and for growth. The last few lines of the story alluded to Dr. Rosen's ability to change and reminded me of the most life-changing moment of my life. Like Dr. Rosen, I too have lost a loved one to cancer. After a three year battle, my mother was taken from us five years ago. When tragic things happen in our lives, all of the cliche sayings come out. 'Life's too short.' 'You have to live each day to the fullest.' And while it almost sounds like I'm mocking these sayings, these words really do hold weight. It kills me to think I wasn't living my life this way before my mother passed, and we did share many unforgettable experiences and moments together. But I do know that over the past five years, I've made an effort to live life to the fullest, whether it be by traveling the world with my sister or spending as much time as I can with family members and friends. In other words, living my life the way my mother would have wanted. Now that the New Year is here, I only hope I can continue to savor every moment. I really loved reading this story and appreciate the fact that it forced me to reflect on some of my deepest thoughts and experiences.
I read the article "Where Faith Meets Science" by Mayim Bialik and absolutely loved it. To be honest, I don't often give thought to the link between faith and science, but the way Mayim articulated her points was very informative and eye-opening. I especially like the way she spoke about the word "divine." People often shy away from this word, but when she uses it synonymously with other common words, such as simply "awesome," it becomes clear that "religious" thoughts aren't really different than other people's everyday thoughts, even if they don't relate those thoughts to G-d. She seamlessly makes her point when speaking of the simple beauty of a rainbow or the way the sun rises every morning. I love the way she speaks about G-d and the universe, describing how they have everything figured out, and we are just trying to catch up.
"And that catching up is what we call our existence. And you know what? Everything is awesome."
I can't say it as eloquently as Mayim did, so I'll steal a few of her words. And as she says, religion isn't trendy. It is however a wonderful thing to use to acknowledge, understand, and appreciate the beauties in everyday life.
I watched the video titled "IDF Lone Soldier From Texas," which was provided by the Israeli Video Network.
The video tells the story of Zeev, a lone soldier originally from Texas who now served in the Golani Brigade. The video describes how Zeev decided he wanted to move to Israel and join the army at the mere age of 14...When I was 14, I was a freshman in high school and had no idea what I wanted to do when I got older. I certainly wasn't thinking about doing something as brave as joining the military and defending my country. But that's a reality for Israelis and for people like Zeev who choose to be lone soldiers. While we as Americans are starting college at age 18, Israelis are starting their service in the military. They are forced to mature more quickly because they have the tall task of defending their country. Before I went to Israel, I never thought much about the IDF. But after I met the eight amazing Israelis in my Birthright group, I gained such an appreciation for their braveness and their maturity. I think that's why I chose to watch this video. It reminded me so much of my new Israeli friends. Like Zeev, many of them have lost loved ones in battles, but they still serve proudly because they know how important it is to defend Israel.
I watched "Crossing the Line 2, The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus." I went to a university where there really weren't many pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Needless to say, when I watched the film, I was pretty shocked at what I saw. I've seen news footage of pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses. However, I don't think I realized how widespread they are. People are absolutely entitled to their own beliefs, and it isn't surprising that people are pro-Palestinian. However, it was surprising to see such blatant examples of anti-Semitism at some of these demonstrations. The eviction notices that circulated around NYU were incredibly offensive. Hearing people refer to Israeli acts as genocidal really struck me. I don't understand what these people are referring to, and to hear statements that are just incorrect and offensive was very difficult. I never had professors who outwardly expressed anti-Semitic views, and I can't imagine how difficult it would be to sit in a classroom and listen to that. I don't think I realized that anti-Semitism was prevalent in some many prestigious universities across the United States. I think the most jarring thing I saw in the film dealt with the incidents at Ohio University. To see Jewish student leaders verbally attacked by fellow students and professors and then to see them arrested was incredibly shocking, (especially in a country based on fundamentals such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion). In a way, it makes me lose a little bit of faith in humanity when I see such misguided hatred and anger. However, despite the offensive acts and attacks (including verbal jabs and even threats against Jewish students), the film ends on a rather hopeful note. The pro-Israel voices are loud and are heard. There are many people who share Zionist beliefs, and it is important to be loud, proud, and peacefully advocate for Israel.
I watched the "Video Tribute to Victims of the Holocaust." http://www.projectsinai.org/index.php/en/video/98/video-tribute-to-victims-of-the-holocaust
There was no voiceover in the piece. It was simply a beautiful collection of black and white photos under a powerful musical track. I expected all the photos to be chilling, gruesome images of Jews in the camps. Several of them were just that. There was images of families being transported to the camps, children looking terrified as they walked. One image in particular resonates with me. It depicted a scared young boy with his hands up. To my surprise, though, there was some happier shots- images of Jews smiling, seemingly enjoying their days before the Holocaust began. This was in addition to the music, which had louder instrumentals and a less somber tone than I expected. While I can't translate the lyrics, the mood of the music was powerful and seemingly more hopeful than I thought it would be. To me, that signifies an important lesson that I can learn regarding the Jewish people. No matter how dark the past may be or how difficult it may get, there is always hope for the future. The Jews never give up. They stare in the face of adversity and only use the tough times to grow stronger.
I took the Israel Inside/Out course and can't really quantify how much I learned from it. As a former journalism student, it was pretty fascinating to watch the video about media bias. I want to believe in journalists' desire to always be accurate and truthful, but unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Seeing fabricated photos documenting alleged Israeli attacks helped me learn that sometimes, media reports are skewed to, in a way, vilify Israel. It was also pretty eye-opening to be reminded how frequently the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is reported on, in comparison to violence in other countries where the number of casualties is much higher.
I really enjoyed watching the film about the Israeli soldiers. It gave me a good idea of how proud Israelis are to defend their homeland and how much they view it as their duty. I don't know much about lone soldiers, so it was really interesting to see their stories being documented. I felt a strong sense of pride when I saw people come to Israel from other countries, such as Switzerland or Ethiopia, because they feel valued and are determined to protect their homeland. The soldiers reiterate the desire to merely defend the country, not seek out more territory. The maturity of these 18-21 year olds amazes me, and I am grateful for their strength and pride in serving.
I think I learned the most from the "A State is Born" and "History of the State" films. While I knew Israel had faced many battles to defend itself, I don't think I realized how many there were. From the Six Day War to the Yom Kippur War to other battles with Lebanon and surrounding nations, the country has been under constant attack, despite Israel's seeming willingness to solve the conflict with diplomacy and treaties. While Israel has constantly been outnumbered, she has been able to come out on top against all odds. This further shows me the strength of the people of Israel and the nation itself.
I am so glad I took this course and gained such a greater knowledge of Israel's history. It has only sought to make me further appreciate the country's strength and Israelis' unbreakable desire to protect their nation and stand up for their right to exist.
“Mother, this is where we part.”
“Those who went to the left, lived. Straight ahead meant certain death.”
No matter how many Holocaust testimonials I hear, the impact of the words and emotional resonance never lessens. Asher Aud is another brave survivor of the Holocaust with a story of despair but also of triumph. Growing up in Poland, his family was forced to move into a ghetto that was established in his town. His father and older brother, Berl, were taken away. In 1942, he faced separation from more family members. After the ghetto was liquidated, the remaining Jews, including himself, his mother, and his other brother, were sent to a cemetery. When the Germans evaluated them, Asher was sent to the left because he was deemed to be strong enough to work. His mother and brother were sent to the Chelmno death camp and were killed. The thought of being just 13 years old and knowing that you were never going to see your mother or brother again, as Asher seemingly did, is an unbearable and simply impossible thought. But somehow, in the lowest moments, Asher triumphed. He worked in the Lodz ghetto. In 1944, he was sent to Auschwitz, where he was reunited with Berl. Asher says Berl gave him bread and sausage, and he credits his brother for his survival. In 1945, Asher got his immigration permit and made it a life goal to do as much as he could to help his homeland. At the end of his testimonial, Asher speaks of his wife, his children, and his many grandchildren, and he says that he couldn’t be prouder…A man who has endured unthinkable pain and suffering…and he chooses to describe his sense of pride over anything else. Perhaps this is the greatest lesson I can take away from Asher’s story- that even in the wake of pain and suffering, it is important to be thankful for what you do have, and even in the darkest times, there is light at the end of the tunnel for a brighter future. I am so grateful and in awe of people like Asher Aud, who are kind enough to share their stories and help keep the memories and experiences of all of our ancestors alive. He shows how strong the Jewish faith is and makes me that much more proud to be a part of it.
AboutThe 100 Point Challenge is an opportunity for returning Taglit-Birthright participants to TRY a variety of Jewish activities, find those activities that they LOVE and want to continue to LIVE. Bring Israel Home participants can choose to complete any Jewish activity that speaks to them to earn 100 points. 75% or more of the American participants in a participating Taglit-Birthright bus must earn 100 points on the Bring Israel Home website within three months after returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience to earn a Bring Israel Home weekend reunion. All those participants who earn 100 points of Jewish activity are eligible for the weekend reunion. The Bring Israel Home 100 Point Challenge is divided into two milestones. Participants must earn 50 points within the first month of returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience to qualify for the following milestone. After achieving the first milestone, participants have two months to earn their final 50 points of Jewish activity. The milestones are clearly outlines below:MilestonesMilestone 1: 75% of a Taglit-Birthright bus must complete 50 points of Jewish activity in the first month after returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience. Milestone 2: 75% of a Taglit-Birthright bus must complete 100 points of Jewish activity in the two months after achieving Milestone 1. Please Note: Israeli participants should be completing 100 points of Jewish activity with their fellow American participants to be eligible to be flown in to the United States for the Bring Israel Home weekend. However, Israeli participants are not included as part of the 75% participation needed to achieve a milestone.
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