I fully admit my Boston-centric view of the world. After all, excluding my year in Israel I’ve spent almost my entire life living within a few minutes of Route 128. And I have no intention of leaving.
So each year for the past ten, when I’ve had the privilege of showing Israeli teens from Haifa around Boston, it’s another opportunity for me to share my love of Boston, and the Boston Jewish community, with our friends from northern Israel.
Thanks to the generous support of CJP for our groundbreaking Pirke Dorot partnership with the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, in September we launched the second year of our pilot, which now touches hundreds of 9th and 10th graders at Prozdor and Reali with innovative curriculum and expanded travel opportunities.
This year marked the introduction of our new tenth grade curriculum, dealing with the evolution of American and Israeli societies from 1948 until today, and also the first of our annual tenth grade hosting exchanges. It’s amazing to see the friendships pick up this December right where they left off last year, when these same students said goodbye to each other after our ninth grade mifgash in Israel.
These past five days we welcomed our Reali friends to Boston for a veritable Boston boot camp of intensive experiences:
- We traveled to Kehillah Schechter Academy in Norwood to rock out to Shabbat Live.
- We met with Shai Bazak, Israel’s Consul General in New England, and heard from Ilana Snapstailer, the Associate Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.
- We spent Shabbat at synagogues like Temple Emunah in Lexington and Temple Aliyah in Needham.
- Our friends spent a day at Prozdor, meeting and making presentations to our students.
- Americans and Israelis together attended a star-studded community Chanukah event at the Vilna Shul.
- Reali students went to Wayland High School to speak with students there about life in Israel.
- We visited CJP to hear from an incredible panel of community leaders including Barry Shrage from CJP, Jeremy Burton and Rabbi Jim Morgan from the JCRC, Rimma Zelfand of JF&CS, and Amy Schectman, from JCHE.
- The group met with Massachusetts State Representative Kay Khan, who represents Newton in the State House, to hear about the American political system.
Today, as most of their hosts began exam weeks, our Reali friends left for Philadelphia and Washington, and we will be meeting them in New York City on Friday. An incredible Shabbat and winter weekend in the Big Apple awaits the over seventy Americans and Israelis who will be participating in the experience together.
The relationships that are built because of Pirke Dorot will last a lifetime, and each year the ties between our schools grow stronger. We look forward to the upcoming weekend together, our second 9th grade trip to Israel in April 2012, our redesign of our 11th grade curriculum to kick off year three of Pirke Dorot over the summer, and next year’s reality of having successfully revolutionized both teaching and instruction at Prozdor and Reali, as well as our school-to-school exchanges over the three years of the pilot. We also are excited to launch a third travel experience in which Prozdor and Reali students will travel to a new destination to do tikkun olam and service together.
When we welcomed our friends to Prozdor and Hebrew College last Thursday, I greeted them with a message that I think all of us at Prozdor believe, that Pirke Dorot is, quite simply, the best thing that we do as a school.
After this past weekend, I believe that now more than ever. And after New York, I don’t think I’ll ever be convinced otherwise.