It was the first day of the Boston week and the clock was pointing 8:00am. An excited group of Israeli teens arrived at Beth El, courtesy of our wonderful American parents, who officially began their chauffeur duties today. After a brief exchange about the first night with our host families, and to avoid the realization that they won't be with us today sinks in, we hit the ground running! That is, until we hit the 117. Then it was more of a very slow and painful crawl. Nonetheless, we made it on time to our first order of the day - visit to the Massachusetts State House.
For our visit, we had the honor to be accompanied by Rabbi Eiduson of Congregation B'nai Torah and Rabbi Breindel of Congregation Beth El, who along the tour provided the teens with their insights, as well as necessary comparisons between the Israeli and American governmental structures. After the kids learned the difference between Congress and Senate, State and Federal, and Cod and Mackerel, they had a unique opportunity to meet not one, but two representatives - Kay Khan of Newton and Adrian Madaro of East Boston. The representatives shared with us their public duties, challenges, and rewards, and didn't shy from answering some very interesting questions coming from our group.
Making our way from the State House towards Quincy Market, we took a moment to experience and New England's Holocaust Memorial, which our Israelis were very surprised, and moved, to encounter in the middle of a busy touristy area. Passing through the memorial brought up some very intelligent questions and remarks about antisemitism and the place of Jews in modern American society.
We parted ways for lunch at Quincy Market, where the teens got to experience some famous local cuisine, as well as briefly engage in the ritual of shopping. Our last stop of the day was the famous Boston Duck Tour, a must for anyone trying make sense of the city in less than a day. It's hard to assess at this point in time how much of the information our lovely tour guide fired at us actually hit the target, but all agreed that is was one cool and unique experience. With that, we concluded a beautiful fall Boston day (I am not sure exactly how I haven't jinxed the weather so far - but obviously I'm still trying).
And just when we thought this day came to its end, the powers that are this wonderful group of families were able to pull together another impromptu gathering - this time to watch the Patriots play the Jets! Without being present at the event, I can confidently report that the question "why is the ball not round?" came up at least once, and "why is this called football?" roughly around 3 times.
Tomorrow will be another day of Israelis exploring America, as we will be visiting Plimoth Plantation (a first for HiBuR) for a tour, workshop, and a an "authentic" kosher colonial lunch. Later we will explore the Natick Mall, and end the day with a workshop, together with our American friends, led by Facing History and Ourselves (Also a first for HiBuR!).
In their own words
Each day for the coming week, our blog posts will include chosen reflections, thoughts, and quotes from our awesome Israeli teens. Today's selection will include those referring to what they have experienced today, as well as over the weekend.
I had a lot of fun today! All day I was thinking how lucky I am for getting to come here and be part of this educating and memorable experience. - May
Today was filled with attractions and activities, and Boston is a beautiful city. Several times throughout the day I stopped to look around and remember how important it is to take advantage of every moment. -Liya
Today we saw the Boston area in daylight for the first time. Seeing all this fall beauty was truly moving. -Maya
Seeing everyone together dancing and being united with each other was a really powerful experience for me personally. -Noga
Simchat Torah really made me see and think of new things. It was my first time experiencing such a special event. We danced and rejoiced, it was very different from what I am used to - a great new experience! -May
Their neighborhoods are really different from the ones we live in. They are beautiful, especially with the foliage and the Halloween decorations. -Yasmin
Today I got to see the amazing city of Boston. I had fun meeting my host family and see that they are wonderful people. Yesterday at Simchat Torah I really enjoyed seeing how the Jewish community celebrates the holiday, and was very happy to be able to take part in it. -Mika
It was very interesting visiting the State House and meeting with the representatives and hearing about all the problems that they deal with. I have gained a new perspective about the immigrants issue. -Ayelet
Yesterday was my first time celebrating Simchat Torah and it was so different from what I thought it would be. It was so fun celebrating along with everyone. -Hila
Boston is way cleaner than New York and more quiet. The Simchat Torah was so much more fun then I thought it would be. Today was the first day in Boston. It was very nice to wake up in the morning and to see all the trees with the foliage and after that we went to Boston and this city is so beautiful and we were on the boat and saw where the city was found and that was so interesting. -Inna