After a great Saturday, we started our week with a walking tour around the Old City of Akko. We learned how Napolean tried to conquer the city and were impressed by the beauty of the El Jazzar mosque as we learned about Islam. Following lunch at a kibbutz in the Galilee, we split off into our different Chavayot. My Chavaya, the high-tech group, traveled to Zichron Ya’akov to a technology camp called Big Idea. Here we met our new guide, Ross, and heard about innovation and start-ups in Israel, and got to use a 3D printer to make a keycard holder for our room. On Monday, our enthusiastic group of young entrepreneurs traveled to a start-up hub in Haifa and learned about a start-up created with the aim of helping people with disabilities integrate more easily into everyday social life. The highlight of our day was meeting with a group of Israeli high school students competing in an international robotics competition called FIRST; here, we were able to operate a competing robot. We spent the following day in Tel Aviv, participating in a scavenger hunt and meeting with three new start-up companies. On the final day of our Chavaya, we went to Nazareth to visit a special place where Israeli and Arab children are developing a start-up culture and being educated in ways to make their dreams come true.
What was incredible about this Chavaya to me was being able to see how our participants can help change the future. Israeli innovations provide huge contributions to the world- technological and otherwise- and to see our participants viewing Israel in this new light was a great experience. The other Chavayot- Gadna (army training), Yam L’Yam (hike from the Kinneret to the Mediterranean), and Tikkun Olam (volunteer work)- also show our participants a new side of Israel which we, as the staff, are so proud to show off. Whether they were learning about the army, seeing the beauty of the country, or realizing the Jewish value of tzedakah, our participants are viewing the country with fresh eyes. They see, and create, the sides of Israel that we want the rest of the world to notice. With that in mind, I move into Shabbat full of pride at being part of such a wonderful country and community.
Yair Etkes- Staff Member