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April 30, 2009 Visit to Jerusalem

So, it’s like this.

I teach a grade 8 English class, in Ma’ale Habsor.  It’s a bunch of lively (lively) kids and we’ve been in touch with a class of 8th graders from Albany, New York, studying in Bet Shraga Hebrew Academy. This is part of the Living Bridge, Partnership 2000,  project connecting young people from Israel and and the Northern U.S. and Mexico. We’ve got ourselves a Facebook site and we’ve exchanged holiday greeting cards, and we knew we’d meet. Yesterday was the day.

On the bus

On the bus

We bused into the Old City of Jerusalem to meet them, and teachers and students from the Kellman Brown Academy, Cherry Hill, N.J.,  at the Western Wall mid-day.img_4179 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We gathered in a shady position to get ourselves in the picture.

First position

First position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Western Wall, women's side

Western Wall, women's side

Then we headed towards the Cotel, the Western Wall, to put in prayer notes, joining people from all over the world in this ritual.Women’s side of the WallWe re-grouped and began making one another’s acquaintance.

introductions via the 'clock'

introductions via the 'clock'

We began to tour the Old City.img_4195
Albany, New Jersey, Negev kids

Albany, New Jersey, Negev kids

End of the day, we ate some outrageously gooey cake and exchanged signatures and final hugs.
mika offers a handmade hamsa

mika offers a handmade hamsa

last gestures of friendship, signing a canvas

last gestures of friendship, signing a canvas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group guide, Ran, had us bid goodbye by hugging 3 people we hadn’t previously known to say a personal goodbye. And so we separated. Bet Shraga people were off to the airport, New Jersey people were off to their next stop and we were off to our bus to make our way home to the Eshkol region.

It was stimulating! (Jerusalem always is) It was full of dramatic impressions. The kids connected and I learned how it’s impossible to adhere to a previously scripted programme.  Ran, the Jerusalem guide, John, the American group’s guide, Eyal, our Living Bridge Co-ordinator and the other teachers, Rabbi Aaron, and I were switching plans and timing, according to reality.
It was good!
Now it’s time to build on new connections. Geography is nothing without learning face-to-face about others.
As Gloria Steinem says (paraphrased) : “Internet is great but parents don’t bond with their children by e-mail”. And so it’s true. Technology makes for faster preliminaries and in-betweens, but nothing can replace person to person.
Ariel and Tal

Ariel and Tal

Rabbi Aaron Kaplan

Rabbi Aaron Kaplan

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