JNF Tour: Day 10 and the end of the journey

January 11, 2019 by  
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Each day a member of the current KKL-JNF Education Study Tour to Israel reports on the day’s activities.

67 educators from public and private schools in NSW, VIC, WA and New Zealand are participating on the ten-day tour. The majority of the educators are Jewish.
Each day, one or more participants report on the day before.


Day 10:

Report from:  Debra Carro, Catherine Walsh and Maya Gunders-Hunt  The Carmel College

The temperature in Tel Aviv was a magnificent 17 degrees, with the sun shining once again on our group of educators. The weather was as delightful as day one.

First stop, yet another extraordinary experience, the KKL-JNF Ilanot Arboretum and Visitor Center. The interactive visitor centre showcased six different ways of using technology in order to educate about the forest, including a virtual reality cycling tour in the Ben Sherman Forest, and so much more – WOW!

We then toured the Arboretum Park, which was established in 1950 in order to identify trees that could successfully grow in the Israeli climate. Currently, there are 350 tree types, of which 75 are varieties of Eucalyptus (Israel has a similar climate to parts of Australia).

We enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of the Park and the challenge of making it to the end of the maze.

Next stop, Alexander Muss High School in Israel (AMHSI), that was founded in 1972 and has a pedagogy which aligns with experiential and innovative educational activities. The school accommodates youth from Australia and America, aiming to provide them with a deep understanding of and love with Israel’s heritage.

Educators were given opportunities to participate in typical classes, with some taking part in a source analysis and discussion where the ramifications of The Balfour Declaration from the Jewish and Arab perspectives were debated. Others examined the hardships faced by making Aliyah in the early 20th Century.

We shared a delicious lunch with some of the students and were amazed by the simple, but brilliant, innovation of chairs being slotted into grooves that raised them off the floor. We also ‘met’ the brilliant dishwasher that rotated on a conveyor belt, unbelievable.

In addition to connecting the children to this rich cultural experience in Israel, the school manages to keep students up to date with their peers at home.

Next, the closing ceremony was quite emotional! Our amazing photographer, Yoav, summarised our meaningful experiences in a succinct movie full of beautiful images. The many speeches expressing thanks to KKL-JNF touched all our hearts.
Yigal expressed his hope that we will be ambassadors and our love for Israel will continue to flourish. The efforts and commitment of each KKL-JNF team member was honoured and appreciated by all.

We all received a certificate of achievement along with a gift pack which was very unexpected and deeply appreciated.

Our very final experience was a visit to Beit Hatfutsot, where we played with the children’s exhibition that focused on Jewish leaders across the arts, science and more. This was followed by the exhibition of synagogues from different places where we analysed the history, culture and circumstances of the communities trying to maintain their Jewish identity. We then watched a movie depicting contemporary Yom Kippur services around the globe and in different communities.

Our visit ended with Jewish Humour and the philosophy behind what Jews laugh at and how Jewish humour has evolved over time.

Beit Hatfutsot should be considered an ongoing cultural centre and not just a museum.

After exploring two-thirds of this diverse and magnificent country, dear colleagues and new Chaverim, the baton has now been passed onto all educators to tell Israel’s story. We have been entrusted to share the knowledge and visions (past, present and future), of this land and its people. In Mahatma Ghandi’s words ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’.

To summarise, we borrowed parts of the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger’s poem titled ‘A Poem about a tree’.
‘This is a command from above, continue planting trees and hope… and in the Arava a tree of life and knowledge will grow’.
And we’ve seen in the various projects and education facilities the reality of those words, written in 1929 come to life’
B’htzlacha and L’hitraot

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