Diller Teen Fellows experience their first week in Israel earlier in July

Diller Teen Fellows on Shabbat

Each week the International Diller Teen Initiatives San Francisco office creates a report to update the community on how our International Diller Teen Fellows are doing and what they have been up to in Israel. The DTF curriculum has developed into something truly extraordinary. Please read the report below to get a glimpse into how incredible this program is for our current Diller Teen Fellows and hopefully it will bring you some nostalgia as you remember how meaningful your Israel Seminars once were.

The 2010 Israel Summer Seminar began this week with all teens and staff arriving safely and eager to jump in to what was to be, for most, their first visit to Eretz Yisrael. The first few days proved to be thrilling for all. While in Jerusalem teens visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Yad Vashem, walked through the tunnels underneath the Old City, and went through and heard about how the Temple Mount was constructed and how it has changed and developed throughout the past three thousand years.

Undoubtedly visiting the Kotel was a highlight for all and some laid t’fillin and placed prayers in the Wall. One Fellow from Baltimore reported that “The wall’s historical significance filled our hearts with pride for Jewish people and our history.” A teen from Pittsburgh wrote this beautiful account: “First, as I approached the Kotel, countless Charedim surrounded me, davening, shuckling, even wailing or insistently chanting the Kabbalat Shabbat service. Never before has the power of religion to shape a person's life been so evident to me, and it was a humbling experience.

The second moment occurred around 20 minutes later, after we had left the official Kotel grounds and were standing outside the compound. As I listened to the distant chanting of the Charedim, the Muslim Call to Prayer startled my ears. I mentioned it out loud, clearly moved by this incredible synthesis of prayer. As we had driven to the Kotel by bus, I could see the division of neighborhoods in Jerusalem, at one moment seeing Charedim filling the streets and the next, many Arabs and the Arab Bank. Hearing both prayers at once reminded me how closely all citizens of Israel live, and the importance of finding a way to resolve some of the current conflicts they face.”

Teens from all communities reported that meeting their Israeli counterparts for the first time, face to face, after waiting months to meet them, was amazing and emotional. Ben from Pittsburgh described the encounter: “…the Israelis finally arrived! The reunion was wonderful, complete with hugging and reuniting... We played a game organized by the Israelis to tell everybody what they had been doing for the past few months, then all got back onto the bus to the hotel to change for Shabbat.

Shabbat began soon after the teens arrived in Israel. The Shabbat experience included traditional and alternative services and discussions about the weekly Torah portion. Everyone was very respectful, even though many of them had different opinions about the role that Judaism plays in their lives. A teen from the San Francisco community shared the following: “As part of the service, we told stories with a partner and created a fictional Shabbat in Israel. The way that the activity made us think creatively with a partner was a wonderful way to get into the mindset of the holiday and really hone our focus so we could get the most out of Shabbat in Jerusalem, our first together in Israel.”

Categories: Endowment, Teens


July 26, 2010


The Federation