Israel Programming at Ma’ayanot Inspires Students
Showing support for Israel is one of the cornerstones of Ma’ayanot. This past week, the school participated in several programs that inspired advocacy, awareness, and appreciation for Israel.
From Sunday through Tuesday, October 29-31, several students attended AIPAC’s Schusterman High School Summit in Washington, DC, with their adviser, Mrs. Yael Weil. They attended two days of sessions learning about the American-Israel relationship and how they can advocate for bipartisan support for Israel. The conference culminated with a lobbying visit to the office of New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer, where the students voiced concerns about addressing the flaws in the Iran Deal, passing anti-BDS legislation, and tightening sanctions on Hezbollah. “It was really interesting for me see different people from all over the U.S. coming together to learn about Israel and strengthen the bonds between the U.S. and Israel,” said Adira Levine (‘18).
On Tuesday, October 31, MIPAC (Ma’ayanot Israel Political Action Committee) hosted two former IDF soldiers from StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization, who spoke to the entire school about their experiences. “Karen,” a 24-year-old granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, described how she experienced antisemitism in America when someone drew a swastika on her locker at her East Brunswick public school. “I never took my freedom for granted and I never took Israel for granted either,” she said.
Karen made aliyah from New Jersey by herself at age 16. She finished high school and then served as a Basic Training Commander in the paratroopers. During the Gaza war in 2014, she helped give support to her soldiers on the border. “The main reason I moved to Israel is that it is one big family,” Karen told the students. “People will do anything to help each other.”
Karen is currently studying politics, government, and Middle East studies at Ben Gurion University in the Negev. Recently, she won a scholarship to work in a program that trains Israeli and Arab children to play soccer together. “The kids didn’t speak the same language, but once we gave them a ball, they became friends,” she said. “I learned that stereotypes are wrong. You need to let someone tell you about themselves and then form your opinion.”
“Hiatham,” known to his family and friends as “Tom,” was born and raised in Bir al-Maksur, a Bedouin village in northern Israel. “Bedouins are not obligated to serve in the IDF, but many choose to join,” he explained. “Soldiers in the IDF are incredibly diverse by identity and ideology.” Tom served in the Air Force in the Iron Dome unit. He is currently studying for a degree in Law, Government, and Management at the Academic College for Science and Law. He works for “Acharai” (“Follow Me”), a non-profit organization that prepares teenagers for military service and guides them to be more socially aware and involved.
“The speakers were truly inspiring,” said Miri Cohen (‘18), co-chair of MIPAC. “They are two people who didn’t have to put their lives at risk but they did it for the love and respect of Israel.”
On Thursday, November 2, the Shalva Band from Jerusalem performed a concert at Ma’ayanot. Led by conductor Shai Ben Shushan, these eight talented musicians with disabilities had students dancing, singing, and cheering for more. On tour in the U.S., Canada, & Mexico, the group sang a diverse set of Hebrew and English pop songs and simcha dance music. At least 25 Ma’ayanot students have signed up to run with Team Shalva in the Jerusalem Marathon on March 9. Shalva National Children’s Center is dedicated to providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. (To support Team Shalva and this important cause, please visit http://www.run4shalva.org/mt-choose.php?team=5638.)
“We are always looking for ways to bring more Israeli ruach into the halls of Ma’ayanot,” said Ms. Sara Gordon, Director of Student Activities. “Whether it’s hearing Israeli soldiers speak, participating in lobbying missions or connecting with Israeli organizations such as Shalva, there are so many opportunities at Ma’ayanot for students to strengthen and develop their love of Israel.”