Hey Galil families. As last night was Aliyah Bet, which was run by our wonderful rising high schoolers, the bonimot (builders), and we all arrived safely in Israel, we also woke up in Israel this morning! To start the day, all of the madrichimot (counselors) and madatz (CITs) were dressed as chalutzimot (pioneers [specifically people who went to Palestine to build up the land]) and were seen doing different types of labor around machaneh (camp) to help keep the infrastructure fresh and new. In order to get everyone ready for the day, we went to the chadar ochel (dining hall) and had classic Israeli bagels that were homemade. Then, with stomaches full of the holy land’s food, all of the chanichimot (campers) were sent off to do labor. Instead of their classic avoda (work), they went around to different stations to “build up” the land of Israel. Some of the stations were Working in the Fields (which involved picking fruits from our gan [garden]), Building Houses (which had chanichimot constructing cardboard structures while keeping an eye out for the oppressive British), and Milking Cows (which used gloves to mimic udders). Once the chanichimot all understood the work it took to build up the land of Israel, they were sent off in their kvutzot (age groups) to have a peula (activity) run for them by their madrichimot. In this peula, they learned about all of the different peoples and communities that call Israel home. We felt that this was important for them to be taught about, as Israel is much more than just a Jewish country. The last activity before lunch was a carnival to celebrate the UN ratifying the creation of the state of Israel. That led into the meal, which was a juicy chicken shawarma with fried bread rolls to refuel before the afternoon.
In the afternoon, we began with chuggim ritzinim (serious interest groups) because although we wanted to celebrate Israel, we also wanted chanichimot to develop a deeper understanding of how the society works and what it looks like. Chanichimot were given four options of which chug to go to: learning about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the army, the connection between Independence Day and Memorial Day in Israel, and the Israeli government. It was wonderful to hear chanichimot having an internal struggle over which chug to go to because they wanted to hear about all of the topics. But alas, we had such a jam packed day that we didn’t have enough time for all of them. However, chanichimot were overjoyed by the next activity, which had them learning about different aspects of Israeli society in a more interactive way. First, they got their rav-kavs (Israeli metrocards) and were told about how efficient public transportation is in Israel. Next, they went to the “Kotel” and learned about the tradition of putting notes in the wall. Then, they made their way to “Tel Aviv” and were taught about its importance to the LGBTQ community in Israel and that it’s a hub of celebration. Finally, they visited “Ashkelon” and went down a giant waterslide to understand the beautiful land that Israel is. Once the chanichimot were more acquainted with the land, they were given a chance to play classic Israeli sports. Some of the options were matkot (similar to trying to volley a pingpong ball over and over with large paddles), sheshbesh (backgammon), and rikkud (dance). Some of our Israeli madrichimot even taught Krav Maga that they learned in the army.
After a short rest to change into bathing suits, everyone went to the “Dead Sea” and lazily floated about. If you have ever been to the Dead Sea, you might know that people often put the mud found on the beach there on their skin to exfoliate. Chanichimot were given a chance to have a mini spa with their own mud masks. However, it was really messy, so they were all sent to rinse off before dinner. For dinner, our tzevet mitbach made us delicious meat stew with couscous and many other Israeli side dishes. Often times in restaurants in Israel, there with be upwards of ten side dishes, so it was nice to see the added touch. With the day coming to a close, the chanichimot had one last surprise waiting for them: a messibah (party)! We had Israeli music playing the entire time, and even offered malabi for dessert. All in all, it was a lovely day of education and fun, and the chanichimot left with a new more complex understand of the land of Israel.
See you tomorrow, Amos