Consistent with the K’lal Yisrael Committee’s mission to promote and foster an enhanced appreciation of and connection to modern Israel among M’kor Shalom congregants, our program, Not on a Silver Platter, engaged 125 synagogue members in an incredible journey.
The Social Hall was set up to be a dining hall in a contemporary Israeli hotel (the Tel Aviv – Sheraton, in fact, complete with napkins from a recent visit!). Participants were invited to partake of an extensive Israeli breakfast, while they settled in to begin the program.
In Part I of our program, we traveled in time, back to 1947. We “witnessed” the roll call at the United Nations that laid the foundation for the establishment of the State of Israel. Program attendees participated in this reenactment of the dramatic United Nations vote, UN Resolution 181.
As the narrator told the story, and the “UN officials” presented the Resolution to the General Assembly, 56 of our participants represented the countries which took part in that historic vote. While this reenactment took place, our “stage family” gathered in their living room, around their radio, to listen to these proceedings. We all exulted with them when the vote was tallied and Resolution 181 passed. And so, the modern state of Israel was born, but “not on a silver platter,” for on May 14, 1948, when Israel declared her independence, the neighboring Arab nations attacked, and miraculously were defeated by the outnumbered, but passionately determined, Israeli defense forces. We ended Part I of our program on an emotional note with the singing of Hatikvah.
All 125 participants then participated in Part II of our program, a virtual tour of Israel, visiting four geographic areas, Galil and the North, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada, and Reform Kibbutz Yahal and the South. At each location, our “tour leaders” presented a brief biblical and contemporary overview of their respective area, and engaged participants in hands-on activities such as placing notes in a replica of the Western Wall, sampling products from the Dead Sea area, tasting various Israeli wines, and feasting on figs, dates and pomellos grown in Kibbutz Yahal.
Participants came early, stayed late, learned, had fun, ate well and were inspired. The Israel of old and new was brought to life, and connections between program participants and Israel were made and strengthened. This was an adult-oriented program which grew out of a Congregation M’kor Shalom Religious School 5th Grade Family Workshop Israel Experience designed and written by Merle Steinberg, Education Director, assisted by Diane Malin, Assistant Education Director. Resources for the student workshop experience were various texts as well as various on-line websites devoted to Israel’s biblical and contemporary history and geography.
Special thanks to Larry Katz, Charles Honeyman, Lynn Podrat and Phyllis Levy
For more information on educational programs in your congregation visit the Web site of the Union's Department of Lifelong Jewish Learning at www.urj.org/educate. For information on Israel programming, visit the Web site of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists in America, at www.ARZA.org.