If you are 15, it doesn’t get much less exciting than going to school on a Tuesday morning. But if you are 15 in a foreign country, or hosting a friend from across the ocean, going to school together is a very much the opposite. Luckily for our teens, this is exactly what they got to experience Tuesday morning, as our Israeli teens accompanied their American hosts to their respected schools. Among many other new things, some of them got to experience shop class for the first time.
While the Americans stayed for the second half of the day, the Israelis were picked up and brought to one of the most beautiful, serene, and poetic places in our region – Walden Pond. The Israelis practiced a silence contemplative walk along the pond (after being kindly kicked out of the visitor center for being too loud), all the way to the site of Thoreau’s cabin. At the cabin site, led by a Whitney Retalic of the Walden Woods Project, the teens discussed some of Thoreau’s teachings, and how they relate to the holiday of Sukkot, and to their lives as Jewish teens.
From the pond, the group divided into two – one group headed to Congregation Beth Elohim in Acton, and the second to Congregation B’nai Torah in Sudbury – two of the seven synagogues making up this year’s HiBuR. At the synagogues, the teens participated in their individual educational programs, interacted with the native students, as well as engaged in conversation with the local clergy.
As if this is not enough for a Tuesday, the Israelis reunited with their American hosts, and all together, along with a dozen pizza trays (courtesy of the amazing David Strauss), boarded the bus and headed to TD Garden to catch a Celtics game! Even though our local team did not end up winning, that did not seem to dim the wonderful experience our group had at the game, including making no less than three appearances on the jumbo screen!
On Wednesday, our Israeli teens visited the JCC in Newton, where they received the honor of having a private tour led by the CEO, Mark Sokol. Following the tour, the group continued to Mayyim Hayyim, one of the landmarks and prides of Jewish life in the Boston area, where they learned about this unique and pluralistic mikveh, and even participated in simulated tvila.(immersion).
As the teens were feeding their bodies with some American falafel, their souls were fed with a delightful conversation with Rabbi Lisa Eiduson of B’nai Torah and Cantor Lorel Zar-Kessler of Beth El. Together, they discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the Judaism they got to explore over the past week, as well as what they are familiar with from home.
To end the day, our Israeli group joined Congregation Or Atid’s educational program, played and sang with the young students, and had a lovely musical and spiritual experience with the congregation’s new rabbi, Louis Polisson.
On Thursday, the teens will explore Boston and visit another one of our partner synagogues, Temple Sinai of Brookline.
I was in American school today. Their school is very cool. And the American school is so different from the Israeli school. Today we went to a basketball game. Even though we lost it was awesome.
– Mika G
Well the basketball game was pretty nice I’d say because I’ve never been in one before so a NBA game as my first one is pretty special. Overall I enjoyed
– Yarin H
The arena is so big and everything is so awesome! I’m having so much fun! Thank you so much Shoni and David this is an unforgettable experience!!
– Noa K
This game is such a special experience for me thanks a lot Shoni and David!
– Maya A
Today was a very good day, I really liked Alex’s school. We saw very nice views in the lake, and I really enjoyed in the NBA game!!!!!!!
– Elad A
I started my day at Lincoln Sudbury high school, and it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. It was really big and different from Israel in many ways, so it was interesting to see the differences, but still how much fun can you have at school?
Next, we went to Walden Pond and had a quiet hike, which means we didn’t talk for a while so we can enjoy nature, and I really liked it.
Then we went to Hebrew school at B’nai Torah , and we read the prayers with the 3rd and 4th graders.
Lastly we went to a pre-NBA Basketball game. Even though I’m usually not a big fan of basketball, I really enjoyed the vibes there and yelling with everyone things that I didn’t even understand.
– Hila A