It begins when you are standing in the security line to board your plane for Israel. 2 young Israelis ask the couple in front of me if this is their first time in Israel. They reply yes it is, and the Israelis proceed to tell them that they will have a wonderful time in touring and seeing the sites while they are here in Israel. I don’t think that happens in every airport line, never mind in every security line.
After my flight I arrive at Kibbutz Tzuba, to visit Ethan, my youngest son, who is studying on EIE. Ethan is studying, traveling and experiencing Israel with 84 other students from all over the United States. He is finishing his Junior year of High School and taking his classes in English as well as an additional 3 hours of Hebrew and 3 hours of Jewish History.
I have had the pleasure of sitting in David Alon’s Jewish history class in EIE at Tzuba for the past two days. As David told the class of 22 students that due to scheduling he was spending two days on the Middle Ages from the Golden Age of Spain, including the poet Yehuda HaLevi, Shmuel Nagid and the physician philosopher Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon or the Rambam. I forgot how much I love to sit in class and learn. The students did a great job of taking notes, paying attention and participating in a good discussion.
David’s first question for discussion was David Ben Gurion’s radical quote “the history of Israel stops at 70 CE and begins again in l948″ The students quickly grasped that if this were really true we would not be studying any of the Rabbinic Judaism which is of course a part of their curriculum. David incorporated songs from these great poets which are still sung today by different popular Israeli artists. Some of the Piyutim, liturgical poems, that you might be familiar with include: L’cha Dodi and Adom Olam.
This is my second child on EIE and I believe as a Jewish educator that this experience is so important for them. Yesterday as they discussed Halacha, Jewish law and what it means to follow Jewish law I had the chance to tell them as Reform Jews they need to know Halacha so they can decide for themselves what to do and what to follow. I looked at them and told them they are future Jewish leaders from each of the communities from which they are a part back in North America. I am proud to see this high level of education for our Reform Jewish high school students and I look forward to seeing where these students will be in 10 years. I will I hope to call some of them colleagues, so here is to the Hebrew Union College Classes of Mid 2020′s.