We had a great day on our final day in and around Haifa, as you can see by the photos it was quite varied in mood and atmosphere.
On Monday morning, together with a few of our Israeli friends, we started our day at the Alon Elementary School. There, we met our elementary school partner classes who have a school-match program with our 5th and 6th grade students. We were welcomed by the students, teachers and administrators at the Alon School with a beautiful presentation in English, and we then did a "Helping Hands" project together in preparation for Purim -- where, in Israel, this is the most important holiday for gift giving. We spoke about what we give to each other and what we receive from one another -- not just material things, but values like kindness, respect, tolerance, etc. Our TBA students really enjoyed the visit and were so impressed by the English level of these elementary school students. As always, there were fruits and drinks for all of us as we departed.
We then boarded the bus for a trip to the ancient city of Akko, which was a major port city of northern Israel. Today, Akko is a fishing town. Haifa has replaced Akko as a major port, due to Haifa's deeper waters, allowing larger ships to enter. Akko is a city inhabited by Jews, Christians and Moslems. These people have lived side-by-side peacefully for centuries. We visited the relatively "new" underground Crusader city as well as the ruins of the Turks who conquered the city from the Crusaders. We also made a visit to a magnificent Tunisian synagogue -- covered with mosaics from floor to ceiling that pretty much tell the story of Jewish history, Israeli history, Biblical history, as well as the geography of the land of Israel. We decided that this would be the perfect way to teach Judaism and Jewish customs, history and religion to kids and adults alike…and to keep people's attention in services because there is so much to look at and learn. After walking through the market of Akko and visiting the gardens, we spoke about the old prison that was used by the British. The prison was used as recently as the during the 1940s when Israel was occupied by Britain, and Jews were punished from smuggling refugees and Holocaust survivors into Akko illegally. This is the story behind Leon Uris' book and movie "Exodus."
We had lunch and then went to the Harduf Kibbutz for what many students said was the "best day of the trip so far!" Harduf is a 35-year old agricultural kibbutz that is known for its organic products and its cooperative and holistic way of life. It is located in the beautiful and green part of the north. What a great place! We spent time in the dairy farm -- where we learned about milking and raising cows, and had a chance to feed the 3-month old baby calves! Then we went to the chicken coops where chickens are raised with a healthy diet of grains and vegetables. We even got to gather eggs that had just been laid and were still warm. From there we went on a short drive down to the Kibbutz's "home fields" where a variety of vegetables are grown organically and are exclusively for sale in the Kibbutz's farm store up the hill. We pulled carrots, onion and lettuce from the ground and sampled fresh parsley. We gathered up a bunch of vegetables and made a terrific organic salad just by chopping everything up and adding some olive oil, salt, lemon juice and spices. A fabulous afternoon was had by all!
After going back to host homes to pack and eat dinner, we all met back at the Alliance School for a fantastic final celebration that included a fabulous guy named: Baruch ha-Metotef (Baruch the drummer), who led a lively (and noisy) drumming circle for all of the Israelis and Americans together. We had a blast…!!!! So much fun and such a great way to use all of the remaining energy of the day.
Rabbi Lisa Eiduson