Israel: There and Back Again

Dan Brosgol
Director of Prozdor
Jan. 8, 2013

It’s always amazing to go to Israel with Prozdor kids.

This time we managed to somehow dodge the historic rainfall that has been pounding the country all winter to enjoy a jam-packed 11 days of travel. It only rained the night of our arrival (Dec. 21, and no, we didn’t see the Messiah, even though I went for a run that night in Jerusalem to see if I’d run into him) and for an hour on the following Saturday.

The empty streets of Jerusalem, Dec. 22, 2012.The beauty of Israel travel lies in the immersive nature of the experience. Our Israel trip, which is not a touristy, see-everything-there-is-to-see kind of trip, is focused on being in Haifa and living with our Israeli hosts. Our full week of host stays allows the students to get to know their hosts and their families and also spend a prolonged amount of time both at the Reali School and in the North. Our hope is that our students will make meaningful connections with Haifa and all that it has to offer.

This year was no exception. Each day provided a new series of memories.

  • We wolfed down platters of hummus at Hummus Said in Acco.
  • We crashed the beaches in Atlit, reliving the experience of the "mapilim" in the early 1940s.
  • We were comped a few tickets to a Maccabi Haifa soccer game and sat two rows from the field. In a word: "protektzia" (connections)!
  • We visited the Technion and found T-shirts for only 15 shekels ($4).
  • We went on a fruitless search for “meggings” (think leggings, but for guys).
  • We visited Radio Haifa and recorded interviews to be played on-air.

But of course we had fun. It was Israel, it was an intense travel experience and it was vacation. The real magic, though, lies not in the fact that we did some really cool things, but in that this trip was the beginning of a process for our students that will continue for the rest of their lives.

Each year we see the Facebook relationships between Prozdor and Reali kids blossom, hear about the video chats and see the long-term impact of Pirke Dorot in the former participants who come back to staff the trip, or younger siblings of former participants who come on their own Israel trip with Prozdor. Our internationally acclaimed three-year curriculum on the American-Israeli relationship continues to break new ground, and our soon-to-launch Boston-Haifa youth radio project is about to redefine how trans-Atlantic learning and sharing will take place between American and Israeli sister schools.

We’re three years into Pirke Dorot, but the best is yet to come.

Pictured above: The empty streets of Jerusalem, Dec. 22, 2012. Looks like a scene from an old Western!

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