After waking up bright and early, either as a result of jet lag or as a result of other loud noises, we started our first full day in Jerusalem. A theme of our leadership mission (ILM) is to get to know a more in depth version of the land of Israel. Tuesday consisted of three main events: the Gazelle Valley, the light rail, and panel discussions, all of which truly provided me a more diverse view of the land.
The day began at Gazelle Valley, a park located in the middle of Jerusalem. This park is home to 16 gazelles and is one of the only major green areas left in Jerusalem. As a group, we learned about the struggles to maintain the park and the recent death of a gazelle due to pollution around the park. A.D. Gordon a Jewish Zionist said that Jews could only be connected to a land through the cultivation and working of that land. Following Gordon’s beliefs, our ILM group trimmed trees and picked up garbage.
One of the most interesting things that I noticed was the difference in languages that were announced at each station. In predominantly Arab neighborhoods, only Arabic would be announced. In more Orthodox neighborhoods-- only Hebrew. But in the more central part of Jerusalem, all three major languages, Hebrew, English, and Arabic would be announced. The train ride made me aware of the geographical and religious divides in Jerusalem, all seen by just riding the light rail.
Later in the day, our ILM group had a discussion with three Jews: a secular Jew, a Modern Orthodox Jew, and an Ultra Orthodox Jew. The three talked about what unites and divides the Jewish community and the daily struggles the groups face on a daily basis.
All three of these events, Gazelle Valley, the light rail and the panel discussion, addressed the theme of diversity and living with religious pluralism. These three events opened my eyes to the hardships and struggles of maintaining a Jewish-democratic society.
- Sarah Herman, KU Senior
Herman was one of twenty students to go on this year’s Israel Leadership Mission from January 3-13. The group spent time in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ramla. Throughout the trip, student leaders participated in services projects and met leaders in the Ramla community in hopes of strengthening the relationship between Kansas City and Ramla. Hillel’s Leadership Mission is funded by the Israel & Overseas Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City.