Jerusalem: Through the Looking Glass

Today we viewed the city of Jerusalem from two distinct physical angles. We started the day at the Haas Promenade south of the Old City and ended the day north and east of the old city on Har Hatsofim. Sandwiched in between, we (ate sandwiches and) examined different views of contemporary Israel through the lens of Jerusalem.

In the morning, Robbie Gringras, artist -in-residence for Makom, spoke to us about the role of arts and culture in Jewish education. Starting with a working definition of the word "art," Robbie presented both concrete and conceptual ideas for how to integrate Israeli arts into our programs. At the Haas Promenade, under the tutelage of our tour guide, Scott Copeland, we examined different views of Jerusalem through paintings, photography, poetry, and prose. After lunch and time to record and discuss our thoughts, we ended our day on Har Hatsofim with Dr. Eilon Schwartz. Professor Schwartz spoke to us about the connections between environmentalism and politics in Israel and a small community on the banks of the Delaware river called Tel Yehudah.

There are many images that stick out in my mind from today. Robbie spoke to us about rivers and puddles. A river is a work of art that connects us with the past as well as the future and helps move Judaism along. Conversely, a puddle is a stagnant and stationary work. We also discussed the role of walls in Israel; walls that enclose, protect, and unite one people may alienate and divide another.

Eilon Schwartz ended the day by issuing a poignant challenge to us as a staff. After setting the stage with a discussion of environmental and political challenges in Israel, Professor Schwartz transitioned to camp. He challenged us to create a public space that is safe for everyone. He also warned us about the issues of consumerism, pluralism, and environmentalism at camp. Finally, he reminded us of the essential and underappreciated role that Tel Yehudah has played in the chronicles of Israel.

-Dov Teddy Fischer, 2011 Merakez Alumim

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