Questions About Israeli Life
Invariably the thought of meeting their Israeli peers does not succeed in exciting the majority of British teenagers. Is this suprising or even un-natural? Of course not - why should they?
In the majority of cases they will already have a closely formed group that they are more than happy with and don't want anyone to penetrate it. Besides this, they most probably have the stereotypes of Israelis and therefore have no real inclination to actually meet them.
It is for this reason that we strongly suggest that proper preparation is done with the English chanachim before the Mifgash starts. The purpose of such a programme is to try and show them why they are participating in the mifgash - once they understand this not only will it hopefully lead to greater enthusiasm about the forthcoming mifgash but a desire to get as much out of it as possible.
Below is a short programme written for such purposes and is intended to be run either at tour orientation or just prior to the mifgash whilst the tour is in Israel. Eitherway, please feel free to edit and expand upon it as you see fit. Some groups may, for instance wish to expand upon the section about home hospitality whilst others may wish to delve further into the thoughts and theories behind mifgashim.
This programme is also written in such a way that it can also be run over Shabbat.
Sets of aims to be ranked
Score board for quiz
Quote written up
A1 flip chart paper
Any - may require some sort of adaptation with large groups
To educate as to the purpose of Mifgash
To discuss Israel/English relations
To reassure over possible worries about the Mifgash
Introductory games - The Shoe people! (10 minutes)
Get everyone to take both his or her shoes off. Everybody should throw one shoe to the edge of the room and put one into the centre of the circle. Everybody should then take one shoe from the circle (not their own) and sit back down in the circle. They should then go round the circle saying who they think that they shoe belongs to and why - if they don't get it right then the person's whose shoe it is has to claim it! Once everybody has guessed who they think that their shoe belongs to the game is over!
The Madrich should take four of the shoes from the above game and place them at his feet. They should then throw the shoe to someone else in the circle and at the same time shout their name. This person should then throw the shoe to someone else and so on, until everybody has caught the shoe at least once and the shoe ends up with the person who started the whole series. They should then repeat this again with the shoe being passed round in exactly the same order - but this time a fun tune should be introduced. Once the shoe has gone round a second time, a second, third and then fourth shoe should be introduced - each time being thrown around in the same order! The game continues until somebody drops a shoe!
Split the group up into smaller groups of five or six
Preparation of skit (10 mins - may take shorter/longer depending on the size of the group):
Each group has ten minutes to prepare a skit or song about how they perceive Israelis (ie mobile phones, hair gel etc)
In order to make the presentations as a whole more fun, each group should be given a particular way in which they have to perform their skit/song. Some suggestions are:
Royal family style
On the moon
On a farm
Victorian style etc.
In order to add further amusement you may like to give each group a random prop that they have to use in their presentation.
Discussion (10 mins)
The Madrich/a should then sum up some of the stereotypes that they have portrayed - it could well be a good idea if they list them on a flip chart so that it will be clearly visible during the discussions.
Typically there will be something like 20 stereotypes which have been presented which can be added onto the list.
Ask the group a series of questions using the skeleton question as below each time changing the first word in the question.
__________ did you get these impressions of Israelis?
The line should be filled up each time with either: [from] who, when, what [impressions], why and how.
The 'who, when, what, why and how' is an analogy that they will be used to looking at from their school career - now they will be looking at it in a different context - analysing why their views of Israelis are so.
Does everybody's stereotypes come from the same place? Are they all embodied in the chanachim to the same depth?
Suggested questions to finish off this section are along the lines of:
a) do they truly believe that their stereotype is correct?
b) are they willing to try and look deeper - beyond the stereotype?
Mifgashim discussion (30 mins):
Before starting this discussion the facilitator should explain that they will be having a mifgash (if not already done so) on their tour and give one or two of the basic details about it.
Hand out the following quote to everybody on sheets of A4 paper:
Can two walk together without having met?
Ask them to consider the following about it's meaning:
Who are the two?
Where are they walking?
How is it possible for two to walk together if they have never met each other?
Suggest to your group that it is possible - and the prime example of this is the Jewish people. Take Shabbat for instance two [ie Jews in different places] walk together [such as by lighting Friday night candles] even though they have never met.
Furthermore, suggest to your group that perhaps this will be the case with their mifgash. Two [ie the British tour group and the Israeli group] will walk together [ie meet and perform activities together] without having ever met [before].
Does your group agree that "two can walk together without having ever met?" - try and discuss it.
Aims of Mifgashim:
This exercise is in many ways the crux of the whole programme - it allows your chanachim to debate why they are bothering to have a Mifgash.
Divide everybody into groups of 6-8 and give each group a set of aims (a copy is included as an appendix). The aims should be cut up into separate slips of paper.
Each group should then be given time to discuss each individual aim - do they think that it is achievable through mifgashim - if so to what extent?
Once they have discussed them all, as a group they should rank them in what they consider to be their order of importance. Discussion should be facilitated and encouraged by Madrichim.
The aims they will be looking at are as follows:
To enable English kids to spend time with their Israeli peers
To have fun
For English people to experience Israeli culture and Israeli people to experience Anglo-Jewish culture
For the English to learn about Israel and the Israelis to learn about England
To build a 'gesher chai' [living bridge] between the Diaspora and Israel
To have an enjoyable and meaningful interaction
To get to know Israeli/English peers more intimately
To enable Diaspora Youth to develop a personal connection to Israel, and for Israeli youth to develop a personal connection to the Diaspora
To enable the Israelis/English to be able to connect the faces of their new friends to the issues sites and experiences that they encounter during their visit
To have friends in the Diaspora/Israel
To present the Israeli/English viewpoint in an educational setting
To provide an educational experience bringing together Israeli and Diaspora Jewish youth for mutual discovery, youth and commitment
To bring Israeli/Diaspora youth together so that they can learn, discover and grow enabling Jewish youth to make the journey to their heritage
Strengthening of the Jewish peoplehood and the celebration of its diversity
Once each group has ranked all the aims, if there is time it could well be worth asking each group to present their conclusions to the other groups so as to compare any similarities or differences.
Then go back to the question - so "can two walk together without having ever met?"
Ask your group if their views on whether a mifgash is worthwhile or not have changed during the course of this programme.
Finally, if there is time ask your group to list all the things that they could learn from their Israeli counterparts [ie army, peace etc] - perhaps remind them of this list just before the mifgash as it will focus their attention.
The programme now moves away from the theory of 'mifgashim' to more practical things that they will require during their Mifgash. It might well be a good idea to separate the two sections and run them as two separate sessions - this will obviously depend on the group and timing.
Questions about Israeli life (15 mins):
One of the biggest fears of British tour participants is often the thought of staying in an Israeli's house - how can a total stranger just invite me into their house? What do I do when I get there? What am I expected to say? I don't know any Ivrit….
As you can see there are generally many concerns, and these concerns are indeed representative of the worries that they may have about the whole mifgash itself. These concerns on the whole represent the differences in culture - something which may be extremely interesting to explore but can prove the most daunting for teenagers.
The following scenarios not only explore how best to approach their host family but also the whole mifgash in general.
1) Grand entrance
You have just arrived at the home of your Israeli host family. Your host greets you warmly and offers you a warm drink. You are a bit nervous so do you:
a) ask where the guest room is so you can put your stuff away
b) ask if anybody speaks English
c) tell your host that you're not really thirsty
d) introduce yourself to every body there and ask them what their names are
Really any of the above is okay. Good idea to introduce yourself, although don't be too forward. If somebody in the family speaks English you can be sure that you'll here it within a minute! It could be rude to ask where the guest room is straight off - wait to be told. Note that your host may not have a room to themselves - you have to wait and see. Generally the Israeli culture wants you to "be at home" - they want to make your stay with them as comfortable and as pleasant as possible. As long as you don't take advantage of them everything will be fine.
2) Bearing gifts
In your community it may be customary to bring a modest gift when staying over with people. You want to be sure to do what is customary in Israel so you:
a) plan on picking up a bouquet of flowers on your way to your host's house
b) chose something special to bring that is produced in your area or which represents your local culture
c) don't bring any gift, since you think that they don't give gifts in Israel
d) plan on buying a bottle of liquor at the duty free shop for your hosts.
Buy something. A local gift is best, Failing that, something Israeli. Alcohol not suitable because you're under age, and there's no guarantee that you'll have time to buy flowers. Also don't forget that Israel (especially amongst the older generations) is not a big drinking culture…
3) Food for thought
Although meals served Israel are pretty much the same as in other Western countries, you may find the diet of your host family to be different from what you're used to. For instance there may be fresh vegetables at breakfast as opposed to cereal and toast, and a heavy meat meal served at lunch time as opposed to a light meal and the light milk meal in the evening as opposed to a heavy meat meal. Some foods may be completely unfamiliar to you. The best approach is for you to:
a) speak openly with your host about what you like to eat, especially if you are a fussy eater
b) be as flexible as possible and go with the flow
c) submit your dietry preferences to your host in writing as soon as you arrive
d) rush right back to the grocery store.
Don't inconvenience your host too much and remember that they're not a grocery store. Discuss what you want - the chances are they won't be able to change the whole menu (as they've planned ahead) but may be able to make something especially for you. Generally the more open you are with them the better - they are less likely to be offended if you tell them you don't like something ahead of time as opposed to just not eating at the meal.
4) Long distance
You have not spoken to your parents for over two weeks! You:
a) ask to use the phone to call home
b) help yourself to the telephone without asking because your hosts told you to "make yourself at home"
c) ask if you can make a collect or credit card call home
d) try to find a public telephone in the neighbourhood
To call England from Israel is very expensive on a normal line. Your host may have a discount line and would most probably not object to you phoning your parents and getting them to call you back.
5) Shabbat Shalom
What out of the following list of words do Israelis associate with Shabbat and which out of the following words do English Jews associate with Shabbat. Spot the difference:
Singing at the table
Washing the car
Going on a hike
Just be careful to spot the differences and respect both sides! Remember that Shabbat forms a major part of the Jewish ID of many Diaspora Jews and can be celebrated in very different ways to in Israel for a variety of reasons.
These differences are in many ways representative of the differing cultures which have arisen over the years.
Conclusion (5 mins):
Say something along the following lines:
Even though English and Israeli Jewish youth have thousands of similarities forged through over 5000 years of heritage, a common religion and a love for Israel there are still very many differences which may become apparent over the course of the mifgash. We don't ask you to change your personality or accept something you disagree with, but what we do ask you is to treat the whole 'encounter' as something which you can learn from.
At the start you played the shoe game where you had to guess whose shoe was whose by making gross generalisations about the persons foot it fitted. In the same way don't presume that the stereotypes you've heard about are all the same (ie mobile phones!), but discover them yourself, then build up an image of Israeli Jewry based on facts as opposed to the stereotypes you presented in your plays. You are going on an encounter, to meet Israeli youth.
We ask you to make full use of them - as it is only by meeting Israelis that you can actually discover Israel.
With your help two can walk together without having met, and you can help build this bridge between the Diaspora and Israel.
Elul 5760 - September 2000