Filed under: arts/culture, music, politics, religion, science/nature | Tags: college, gap-year, high school, Israel, Kivunim, Masa, Nativ, posted by ak, program, Siach, Year Course
As December 31st approaches and the first of my college applications is officially due, I’m beginning to browse through another set of applications and supplements: the ones for Israel gap-year programs.
I’ve been told over and over again that “You’re never as free as you are before college. During college there are classes, then there’s internships and jobs, and then maybe grad school, and then jobs, and a family, and kids… and it becomes harder and harder to pick up and travel.”
So I’m going to Israel next year. I haven’t decided yet which program/s to apply for. There are a lot of great ones out there, some affiliated with each movement of Judaism, others pluralistic, some specifically designed with social justice in mind, others for nature lovers, some for studying, others for volunteering, some for musicians, others for dancers, some for five months, some for ten, some for just Americans, some for people from all over the world.
The internet is probably the most fantastic resource for finding a program that’s good for you, and the Masa organization offers scholarships for many of the programs it advertises.
I want a program that allows me to live like Israelis: speaking Hebrew, making friends, meeting kids, going to museums. But I also want to learn. I want to travel. I want to gain a firsthand experience of what it would be like to be seventeen-going-on-eighteen year old living in Israel.
Check it out some programs, but do it soon. Bring up the idea with your parents (you can even play the maturity card: You’ll be living on your own thousands of miles away for a while year, making decisions and friends… it will give you a step ahead of your classmates freshman year of college, when they’re just starting to hold those responsibilities).
Filed under: religion, science/nature | Tags: environment, green energy, Israel, trees
If you made a donation to the Jewish National Fund in the past year, you may have received a notice thanking you for your donation, but explaining that no trees would be planted in Israel or abroad for the year; 5768 was a shmita year. In different aspects of our Jewish lives, many of us have come across the concept of shmita, or the Sabbatical Year for the land. In the context in which I learned it, I thought it had marginal relevance to my life. I studied it biblically; I learned that in the Torah, God commands us: “For six years you shall sow your fields and for six years you shall prune your vines and you shall gather in their produce. And in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath for the Lord” (Leviticus 25). I remember thinking: I have no fields to sow, no vines to prune, no produce to gather, so why should I care? And, more importantly, why is the practice still alive today? Isn’t it impractical, counter-productive and tremendously risky for Jewish and Israeli farmers to take a break from production for a year? I could not understand.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: gaza, Hamas, Israel, posted by zionismilves, Quassam, Rockets, UN
On November 4, Israel preformed a ground raid upon the Gaza Strip to destroy a tunnel that the Israeli government claims was built by the Hamas military to kidnap an Israeli soldier. In that same day, Israel preformed an air-strike on southern Gaza. In response, Hamas and other terrorist organizations rekindled the fuses on their rockets and officially broke the cease-fire in place since June of this year. In response to the rocket attacks, Israel closed the borders through to Gaza, limiting their power supply and the supplies of UN organizations proving food and other necessities to three quarters of a million Gaza residents. Minimal amounts of supplies began to be allowed in on November
There are two issues that have to do with this renewed crisis. The first has to do with Israel’s preemptive raid into Gaza and Israel’s subsequent air strike. Israel claims that the raid was to prevent a kidnapping by Hamas. The idea that Hamas would break the cease-fire is simply ridiculous—their cause is fueled by the sympathy it receives from outside sources because it plays up the victim role. No victim could break a cease-fire, and kidnapping a soldier (hardly “kosher” in wartime) would be denounced. Say what you will about the evil acts Hamas commits, but it is a very strategically ingenious organization. Thus, Hamas, in order to keep its victim status, would never kidnap a soldier. Secondly, the air-strike—a response to rocket fire from Gaza—was a terrible decision. It continued the back and forth between to enemies instead of trying to limit the violence to just two incidents. As long as Israel responds to Gaza’s responses, there will end up being an endless barrage of bombing in both territories.