D’var Israel November 21

Rachel Bar Din and Ben Vaknin
D’var Israel 11/21/15

Hello, everyone! Shabbat Shalom, we would like to talk to you today about some of the experiences that we have had in the past three months here in Toronto.

Each Sunday, we get to create activities for the religious school students about Israel. This informal and fun approach gives them an opportunity to ask us anything they want to know about Israel. Currently, we are talking about the beginning of Israel (as a country) and connecting our personal dreams to Herzl's dream, his vision of a Jewish state.

We are also involved with the Temple Sinai’s youth community in other ways. Every Tuesday we join LOTSSY, Temple’s senior youth group, for pizza and lounge night. During that time, we connect with them on a personal level — and in a way connecting them to Israel by talking about it and our life there.

Also, about a month ago, we traveled to New York City with the grades 9 and 10 students. We had an amazing and meaningful time there. We could divide our NYC experiences into two groups: the places we visited and the time we spent with the 9th and 10th graders.

We were happy to spend time with people that are a closer to our age. They are smart and fun, and most of the time we felt like we could talk to them without the need to be the “responsible adult” that overlooks them. We had some great moments that we remember, such as singing loud songs, taking funny pictures, playing games on the road and more.

The last day of the trip, it was raining in the morning, and we had to walk to the 9/11 memorial. When we entered the museum, we were shocked by how big it is from the inside. In the museum, we saw many exhibitions about the attack. Before we started to explore the museum on our own, Cantor Katie and Rabbi Mikelberg gave us a mission. To find a story of someone that died in the attack. We wanted to see if we could find the names of any Israelis who had died in the attacks, and we came up with three names.

The first one is Hagai Shefi, an Israeli businessman who was working in his office during the attack. He died at the age of 34. The second name is Shai Levinhar, an Israeli veteran who worked for an American company. He died at the age of 29. And the last name is Alona Abraham, an Israeli woman who was on Flight 175 from Boston to LA.

Terrorism is something that all of us are effected by. A week ago, as you know, many terrorist attacks took place in different places in Paris, where 130 people were murdered and hundreds of people were injured. And just two days ago, five people were murdered by terrorists in different places in Israel. Those events — and our experience at the museum — helped us understand that terrorism has become something global, something that affects every place in this world. When we finished touring in the museum, we went outside, and we said Kaddish for the people that were killed in the attack. It’s was a very powerful experience, and we will definitely remember it.

Another event that was meaningful to us was a meeting that we attended with the other Reform ShinShinim in Toronto with Rabbi Dolgin and Rabbi Goldstein from City Shul. It was about what does being a Reform Jew mean? As a ShinShinim in a Reform institution, we knew a little bit about it from what little we saw in Israel, and from what we have experienced at Temple Sinai since we arrived, but it is still hard to give 100% to something that we don’t fully understand. In the meeting, we had the opportunity to learn about Reform Judaism and ask questions about things that we weren’t sure about before. And now, since the meeting, we have been thinking about some of the things that we talked about, and it has given us a new perspective.

In closing, we would like to thank Temple Sinai for the opportunity to go to NYC with the grades 9 and 10 youth. We would like to thank Rabbi Dolgin and Rabbi Goldstein for the meeting they arranged for us. We are having a great time here at Temple Sinai, and we can’t wait to go back to Israel in a month on our winter break to share our thoughts and experiences — to share YOU — with our family and friends.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!