Activities and thoughts outside of my work with Barnraiser. Read my CV for professional information.

Email me

Your email address will be used to me to reply to you. It is not kept.

Please solve the following mathematical problem so that we know you are a human.

Example: 2 * 2 = 4 or 0 - 9 = -9

  • I'm here to work with an online dialog project with youth from East and West Jerusalem. I'm also here to learn for myself about Israel, Palestine and some of the issue facing this region. The following 14 days of blogging will chart my discovery process, thoughts and feeling.

    My first assumption was that airport security was going to be a nightmare. As I sailed through the security checks at Ben Gurion airport I wondered what all the fuss was about.

    I was met by Gal and Yakir who gave me a drink and welcomed me to Israel. They took me to Jerusalem where I met Ronit, three people who will become colleges, guides and teachers to me over the next two weeks.

    Diversity is a word that sums up my learning so far. The majority of people here are not historically speaking too far away from another culture. I noticed that if you ask a person where they were born you tend to get an answer like "I was born in Jerusalem and my father is from USA and my mother from Poland"... often this continues to reveal the year and the circumstances by which the family arrived here. This has given Israel a real cultural diversity.

    My immediate feeling is that Israel is about history, land, religion and identity all of which bring about tensions. Take for instance the Jewish religion. You have Ultra Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Jews and secular Jews. No group visibly mixes with any other group and marriage between people from different groups discouraged. Each group has their own Synagogue.

    Shabbat is a weekly Jewish rest day running from Friday night to Saturday night. It's the equivalent to "Sunday closing" in most Christian countries. Around 16:00 in Jerusalem things began to get really quiet. There were only Ultra Orthodox Jews (who wear a dark hat, dark coat and tend to have a beard), taxis and me on the street - guess who stood out.

    Ronit met me from the taxi and we headed to Tel Aviv Jaffa. Jaffa is an old Arab trading port and Tel Aviv a modern (98 years old) sprawling city. The two are linked hence the proper name for the place is "Tel Aviv jaffa". We celebrated Shabbat with red wine, challah (a special bread) and Hebrew songs followed by a great meal. Joining us were the neighbors. This of course is no big deal except that we were in a Jewish house in Jaffa, an Arab neighborhood with an Arab family (the neighbors) joining us for Shabbat, a Jewish holiday. Just to really add to the mix, a couple of hours after dinner there was an Earthquake (small shake, nothing serious)... this was no to be a normal day.

    Video from the first look at Jerusalem: