Blog  Beginning our Study of Modern Israel

Beginning our Study of Modern Israel

BBaruch Krausaruch Kraus is the Principal of the NFTY-EIE High School in Israel.

We have had a very full two and a half weeks since I last wrote. After returning from Gadna, we went back to the academics at Tzuba to study Modern Israel, supplemented by one and a half days of tiyulim. The subject was Jewish resistance leading up to Independence. We learned of the Haganah, Palmach, Etzel, and Lehi, four underground groups that evolved into the defense against local Arab forces and later developed into rebellion against the Mandate British forces. Wednesday November 25, we visited the former Central British prison, located in downtown Jerusalem, in which members of the Haganah and Irgun (Etzel) were imprisoned and executed.

Thursday (Thanksgiving) was our tiyul dealing with the War of Independence, during which we reflected on different aspects of this war. We began the morning at Latrurn , a former British fortress which became a Jordanian army base and today houses the museum and memorial center of the Armored Corps. Here, we learned about the first battle in 1948 where the Armored Corps began. Next, we traveled to Machon Ayalon, or Kibbutz Hill, where a phony kibbutz was established in 1946 (near Rehovot) with an underground ammunitions factory producing 2.25 million rounds of ammunition in preparation for the war that would be fought with the Arab armies. Then it was on to Tel Aviv to visit Independence Hall, where Israel’s Declaration of Independence was read and signed on the 5th of Iyar, 1948. Our discussions there centered on how the eventual ceasefire borders of 1949 came into being.

IMG_1013After the tiyul we had an introduction to Israel as a start-up nation. We used the services of a company called StartIL, whose aims are connecting the next generation of the Jewish population to Israel’s technological and entrepreneurial achievements, giving a different perception of Israel: not only historical, but also the future. Positioning Israel as a leader in innovation, a place that offers a variety of employment options and unlimited opportunities, we did this through a scavenger hunt in central Tel Aviv. This hunt was all about meeting the Start-Up Nation through personal encounters and teamwork. Our students got the feeling of being entrepreneurs while solving complex puzzles and meeting with exciting people. Finally, we picked up our Thanksgiving dinner in Tel Aviv and traveled back to Tzuba for our festive dinner.

12308671_10153719221469431_2640075800441241114_n (1) Last Tuesday, we went on a tiyul dealing with the Six Day War during which we visited Ammunition Hill, located in northern Jerusalem, the site of one of the fiercest battles between Israel and Jordan. This past Thursday, we had Cinema Day, where Ariella’s mother, Amy Kronich, an expert in cinema and education, taught us using snippets of Israeli films and about values and conflicts in Israel society. We then viewed a movie, “Summer Vacation Blues”, which deals with a group of high school graduates spending the summer preparing to be mobilized into the army against the backdrop of Israel’s War of Attrition. This is one of Israel’s classic films about youth dealing with the harsh realities of the ongoing defense of their country. We followed with a discussion about how Israeli teens, some of whom they have met, deal with the pressures and responsibilities of knowing they will be part of the army in a short time.

As our studies are not only of the past but current Israel society as well, we will be going to the Supreme Court where we will learn about the judicial system here in Israel, drive along the Security fence and at the wall that divides the Palestinian Authority from the State of Israel, and learn about the difficulties of the Palestinians on one hand and security for Israelis on the other hand. Additionally, we will have a Mock Knesset and learn about modern politics and government in Israel.

Sunday night, we lit the first candle of Chanukah with all the students, and we will light together every night as we remember and celebrate the spirit of freedom.

Wishing all a Chag Urim (Lights) Sameach

All the best,
Baruch