The Circassian Community and Sandiyana Olive Oil

In Israel, rain is a “Siman bracha,” a sign of blessing. The weather brought alternate plans from our planned hike and we made the most of the new opportunities in the Galilee. 
We began the morning by visiting the Circassian Community of Kfar Kama. The Circassians are an ethnic minority of around 4500 people from the Caucus Mountains. The nation was originally brought to Israel by the Ottomon Empire in the late 19th century. The people continue to maintain their own traditions in several areas around Israel and are citizens who are devoted to the country in many ways, including serving in the army.
We then headed to a neighboring community called Kfar Kana, where there is an olive oil cooperative of Arab and Jewish women called Sindyana  which seeks to empower women to work and make money for their families. We learned about the origins of this company and were quite impressed how it exports its Gold Medal oil even to Italy — it’s that good. At the end of the presentation, students mad…

Shabbat and Drum Circle

It was a beautiful Shabbat at Kibbutz Degania in the Galil, filled with beautiful tefillot, singing, and a perfect sunny day. Ari Rosen celebrated the anniversary of his bar mitzvah by reading four aliyot, the haftarah, and sharing Torah in honor of the day. Mazal tov! Tonight we got to celebrate Sophie Himmelfarb’s birthday. Happy birthday Sophie!
Tonight, we had a fantastic time with a drum circle, playing Israeli music classics and students’ favorite pump-up music. Check out the videos and pictures of the song and dance.

Save a Child’s Heart

This afternoon, we headed to the inspiring NGO, Save a Child’s Heart. The organization brings children from around the world for a variety of heart procedures and surgeries. To date, Save a Child's Heart has saved the lives of more than 5,100 children from 62 countries in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and throughout the Middle East and trained more than 120 medical team members from these countries. The organization also recently opened centers in two additional countries.
So what did we do? Preston found a buddy who rode on his back for over an hour. Ariana led a circle game with around fifteen of our students and six of the children. Ari and Micah built a magnatile fortress and then called a cute kid to come and drive his car in to it, bringing forth great glee from the child. And who could forget the dance party? While students couldn’t communicate in the language of the children or their parents, natural human empathy is universal.

Yafo and Tel Aviv

Core to our trip is exploring the unique culture of this beautiful country. We had a more relaxed morning, exploring the streets of Yafo and Tel Aviv. We spent some time this morning in “Shuk HaPishishim,” the flea market, and then followed up with a tour of the graffiti art that is all over the walls in the Florentine neighborhood. Enjoy the pictures!