It’s been a recent tradition for rising Jewish high school juniors to spend the summer in a program in Israel. RPette Abigail Miller chose to join the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s program that engages in meaningful community service efforts in the Jewish State. Here is her report on the past week:
Today we got to do my favorite part of the whole trip so far, a visit and an opportunity to volunteer at Save a Child’s Heart Foundation (SACH). Before we got to play with the children at the center, we learned about the foundation’s conception and mission. The purpose of SACH is to bring children with congenital heart defects and other cardiac diseases to Israel so that life-saving surgeries can be performed on them by qualified doctors.
We met children of all different ages and nationalities, ranging from 11 months to 11 years old; from Angola to the the Palestinian territories. The most amazing part about the children we saw was that, despite their potentially fatal conditions, they continued to smile and laugh as we talked and played games with them. Although we did not speak their languages, it was easy for us to communicate through our smiles.
The next place we visited was also medical in nature, Magen David Adom (The Red Shield of David). This organization is very much like America’s Red Cross in that they provide medical relief when disasters strike, not only in Israel but in whatever country they are needed. We got a private tour of their headquarters where we learned about the organization and got to see how they respond to and locate distress calls.
After doing our service work and learning for the day, we got to attend BBYO Passport’s Israel dance party with about 400 teens visiting Israel from around the world. While the party was a lot of fun, I enjoyed the opportunity to help put smiles of the children at SACH even more. It was a great day learning how Israel insures they can get as many people as possible the medical attention they need.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Learning about the roots of Israel and the people who made it possible for Jews to live and visit this country is just as important as working to make Israel a better place. Today, we got a deeper look in the Zionist movement, and a deeper understanding of how revolutionary people like Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism, really were. We started the morning with a power point about Zionism created by our day’s tour guide. He challenged us by asking questions that required serious thought and more than just one word answers. We talked about how we practice Judaism differently, and whether or not actions such as creating the Zionist movement were “kosher” or not. After the power point, we visited Tel Aviv’s first cemetery, where may of the founders of the Modern State of Israel were buried.
From there, we visited Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall and talked about when people began living in Tel Aviv. Finally, we visited Rabin Square and learned about Yitzchak Rabin, one of Israel’s most dedicated former Prime Ministers. We learned about how much he loved Israel, and what he sacrificed in order to create peace for his country; including giving life when he was shot at the end of a peace rally.
All the discussions we had today further increased our love and understanding of Israel and helped us look at the country in important new ways.