Sunday, August 31, 2008

2008 MSU Jewish Studies Summer Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

—There is no way Israel will ever leave my heart. There is forever a special place in my heart for this land and what it means to me!
—This really has been a trip of a lifetime! It was absolutely amazing.
—Between learning about Jerusalem and gaining an understanding of the Zionist movement the trip to Israel was a great success and a whole lot of fun. Meeting new people and learning more about a new culture was fantastic and enlightening.
—How do you sum up the best experience of your life (and I’m not using this term lightly, I truly believe it)? … This is definitely something that I can remember for a lifetime and tell my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, and that’s good enough for me. The trip was everything I could have ever wanted and more, and I am so satisfied with my experience.

These quotes convey some of the excitement and lasting memories generated by the 2008 MSU Jewish Studies Summer Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Twenty MSU undergraduates from a broad range of backgrounds and academic interests participated in the program, led by Professor Marc Bernstein of MSU’s Department of Linguistics & Languages. This year’s overwhelming response (doubled since last year) was encouraged by the availability of Levy and Slade scholarships administered by MSU’s Jewish Studies Program, which conferred 18 scholarships to help defray the costs of the program. Students came from Jewish and Christian upbringings and for many in the group it was their first visit to the country. Very few had spent any significant amount of time living in the country and not being escorted around as part of an organized Jewish group or Birthright, and they did an incredible job of adapting to the culture, absorbing huge amounts knowledge and experience, and getting out on their own to see the country and meet its people.

The academic program consisted of two rigorous four-credit courses. Professor Bernstein’s course on the historical geography of Jerusalem took advantage of the students’ presence in Jerusalem to delve into the city’s rich past, explore its present, and look to possible futures. Students learned about the major events in Jerusalem’s history, its place in the human imagination, and its significance over the millennia as a source for tremendous cultural innovation. Central to our considerations was the notion of constructed collective memory and the competition over sacred space. Field trips to diverse archaeological and cultural treasures, under the guidance of professional guide Barak Zemer, traced the history of Jerusalem from its ancient Canaanite origins down to the present. Students kept academic response journals and carried out final research projects.

Students also took a course taught by Dr. David Mendelsson on the emergence of the modern State of Israel in which they surveyed ideological, political and social developments surrounding the collective identity of the Jewish community in Palestine from the beginnings of political Zionism through the sixty years of statehood. As part of this course, students were able to explore the National Cemetery at Mt. Herzl, areas of the Galilee and the North, as well as important Zionist historical sites in Tel Aviv. This being the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State, it was a particularly apt time to take stock of where the country came from and where it is today.

International Relations major Kallie Eisenberger summed up her experience thus:
Israel was not at all what I anticipated it to be. The few expectations that I had coming in were erased on day one, and I am so glad for this. Almost every day we had some type of tour in the city, which I found extremely valuable; I really felt that I learned so much more about the history and complexity of Jerusalem by being physically present instead of being taught about them in a classroom. I cannot even begin to explain what it felt like to stand on Temple Mount, touch the Western Wall, and go inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
Our trip truly encompassed aspects of each of the Abrahamic religions, which I deeply appreciated and found to be extremely interesting. Not only did we see and hear about the background of these religions and how each has had some influence in Jerusalem, but we were able to apply our knowledge to current issues through interviews with local Jerusalemites, including an Arab villager, a Jewish settler, a Sufi sheik, and two men that have each lost a family member in the conflict—one a Palestinian and the other an Israeli. Being able to go into the city and explore, talk to people, and learn about past and present issues was truly an amazing and invaluable experience.
Although I learned so much about the history, life, religions, and the formation of the state of Israel, I think the thing that most impressed me was the true complexity of the land. For a country that is only sixty years old, there is such a deep history there that extends well past the formation of the state in 1948. While we were only there for five short weeks, I know that everything I learned, saw, and experienced will stick with me for a lifetime. Not only was it a wonderful trip with a group of really great people, but also it affirmed to me the choices I have made in my education, particularly choosing to go on study abroad, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I really cannot say enough about this experience—as my friends and family who have been forced to hear about it constantly can tell you. Even pictures aren’t enough to convey the incredible wonder of Israel and particularly Jerusalem. Standing on top of Masada and looking across to the sun rising over the Dead Sea and Jordan, looking up at the Dome of Rock, and even wandering the Old City with friends are irreplaceable memories for me I met people from all over the globe, saw the holiest places in the world, learned an incredible amount, and made lifelong connections to a place that will always remain close to my heart because of the fantastic experience I had there. It was an amazing trip that I would do again in a heartbeat. My gratitude for being able to complete this trip is inexpressible as I now have an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life and has been the highlight of my college career.

Check out the program blog ( to view the students’ trip and lecture reports, in addition to the results of their research projects.
Marc Bernstein will again be leading the Program in 2009. For more details about the program, contact him at and see:

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Shrine of the Book" - Tiffany Vauters

Project Write-Up:

Along the shore of the Dead Sea in 1947, a young Bedawin Shepherd stumbled across what has been called the most important archaeological find of the 20th Century, the Dead Sea Scrolls. The original found of 7 scrolls grew over 10 yrs into a vast library of over 800 ancient manuscripts. A find that captured the public's imagination and promised to reveal secrets about Ancient Judea that could possibly rock the foundation of the worlds major religions. The Shrine of the Book is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, among them, the world’s oldest copy of Biblical books. It is also home to rare biblical manuscripts from later periods, such as the Aleppo Codex. Besides the two thousand year old scrolls, found at Khirbet Qumran in the Judean Desert, archaeologist finds are also exhibited.
The Shrine of the Book, inaugurated in 1965 as part of the Israel Museum, is located near the government institutions of the States of Israel. The Building was designed by architects Armand Bartos and Fredrick Kiesler and is one of the architectural milestones of the past-World War II era. Its uniqueness lies in its sacred aura and in the way it conveys spiritual messages though the language of architecture The white dome on the right resembles the lids of the jars in which three of the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The dome and the black basalt was opposite it allude to the tension expressed in the scrolls between the “Sons of light,” and the Dead Sea Sectarians referred to themselves and the “Sons of Darkness,” their enemies. The water sprayed onto the dome represents the concept of purity, which is a major aspect of sectarian life.
On exhibit when you first walk into the Shrine of the Book is the “Book of Isaiah” The eight key points of the “Book of Isaiah display are: It was the first of seven scrolls discovered in 1947, view her are chapters 1:1-28:24 and 44:23-66:24, this display had not been exhibited for forty years, it is the 2nd longest reaching 734cm, it is the best preserved, it is the only one that contains the entire book, it is the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the book of Isaiah is 1,000 years older than the oldest manuscripts of the Bible. The book of Isaiah displays ink on parchment and it was found in Qumran in cave 1. Of the 220 Biblical scrolls and 700 scrolls of other types found in the area. Dating from 120 BCE, it is also one of the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some one thousand years older than the oldest manuscript of the Bible known to us before the scrolls’ discovery. The version of the text is close to the masoretic version codified in medieval codices, such as the Aleppo Codex. Around 20 additional copies of the Book of Isaiah were also found at Qumran, as well as six pesharim, which is exegetical works, based on the book; Isaiah is also frequently quoted in other scrolls. The prominence of the Book of Isaiah is consistent with the messianic beliefs of the community living at Qumran; Since Isaiah is known for his prophecies concerning the End of Days.
As you travel down the tunnel of the Shrine of the Book on display are the life, experiences, purpose, and artifacts in correlation with those who lived in the caves of Qumran, for instance on display were old leather sandals that the sectarians wore in the desert. The Sectarians regarded the desolation of the desert as a symbol of purity and eschatological paradise, and a refuge from corruption of society and culture, in the spirit of the Pentateuch and the Prophets.
As you move along further in the Shrine of the Book you would see cases filled with manuscripts, scrolls, documents and stories on the following topics: “The Temple Scroll”, “Prayers, Hymns, and Thanksgiving Psalms”, “The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness”, “Study and Writing”, “Apocrypha in the Scrolls”, “Sectarian Scrolls: The Pesharime”, ‘The Community Rule: The Sect’s Code”, “Aleppo Codex”, “From sacred books to Canon”, “Song of the Sea: An Unknown Scroll Fragment”, “The Birth of the Aleppo Codex”, “The Craft of the Medieval Scribe”, “From Egypt to Aleppo”, “The Fame of the Aleppo Codex”, “Ceremonial objects of the Jewish Community of Aleppo”, “Saving the Aleppo Codex”, “The Aleppo Codex Disappears”, “Maimonides and the Aleppo Codex” and “The Aleppo Codex”.
This is the portion of the Shrine of the Book that is in side the dome that you view from the outside, which represents the “Sons of Light”. Some of the exhibits are on the main floor and then there is a portion below on a basement level. Out of the array of exhibits in this section there were just a few that caught my attention. For instance, “The Temple Scroll”. It is said to be the longest scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls about 24 ft. in length with 66 columns of text. The second display was, “The War of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness”: The sons of light were the sectarians, they came out of a community called the “yahad” and their goal was to return to Jerusalem to engage in the proper worship of God in the future temple as described in “The New Jerusalem” scroll. The following show case was the “Apocrypha in the scrolls” were it featured the verse in the bible from Ecclesiastes 12:12, it says, “Against them my son, be warned! The making of many books is without limit. At “The Community Rule: The Sect’s Code” case listed the rules of behaviors at communal meals, theological principles, and admittance of New Members into the community. On site architects found many of the tools that the scribes used in writing and keeping the maintenance of these holy scrolls, in the show case called: “The Craft of the Medieval Scribes”. The Scribes worked seated on the floor or small mattress. They had a flat board that lay over their knees. The scribes would either do dictations or copying word for word from other books on parchment or papyrus paper, later using paper. The stylus or quill pen dipped in an ink well was what the scribes used on the scrolls. Other artifacts that were found in the assistance on creating the scrolls were paper cutters, scissors and a writing box. The next archeological find that really caught my attention was the “Song of Sea”. This was an unknown scroll fragment. The manuscript was from the silent era, somewhere between the 3rd and 8th century CE. After much review the “Song of Sea” were fragments of a Torah scroll, part of the Book of Exodus 13:9-16:1. The scroll on display is addressed as The Song of Sea 15:1-19 celebrating the Israelites safe crossing of the Red Sea.
I want to conclude with the last of the 3 major features of the Shrine of the Book. There were several exhibits about the Aleppo Codex that were fascinating to read and see. The Aleppo Codex is seen as a fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah 2:3, saying “ And many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”. The Aleppo Codex comprised all 24 books of the Bible. Originally it had 480 leaves, but only 295 of them survived. It is the most accurate existing manuscript of the Masoretic text; sometimes the text is almost identical to the Masoretic text. To date, only one complete page with a passage from the book of Chronicles, small fragments of a page of Exodus. There are also parts that are presently missing, which are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy 1:1-28:17, II Kings 14:21-18:13, Jeremiah 29:1-31 and verses from chapter 32, Amos 8:12 to the end of that book, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah 1:1-5:1, the last verse of Zephaniah, Haggiah, Zechariah 1:1-9:17, Psalms 15-25:2, Song of Songs – starting from the end of chapter 3 to the end of the book of Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. The Aleppo Codex was and sometimes used as the standard text in the correction of books. It’s a symbol that represents the idea of the rebirth of the Jewish people after 2000 years of wondering, exile and near annihilation. With the help of the Aleppo Codex, the Hebrew Bible called the Tanakh is said to have paved the way for the New Testament and the Koran. So, once again all three major religions are encompassed in on the most important archaeological digs of the 20th century; A dig that has brought the eyes of the world to look upon Israel and Jerusalem in a positive, insightful, and uplifting way. On great demand the Dead Sea Scrolls have traveled all over the world from 2000-until now. Here are just a few of the places that the Dead Sea Scrolls have done exhibits: The Korean War Memorial Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, Field Museum of Chicago, North Carolina Museum, Union Station Kansas, and The Van Andel Museum in Grand Rapids, MI. As we can see this Holy Document is one that is treasured both in Jerusalem and the outer most parts of the world.

Tour Up North (Bus 2) - Tiffany Vauters

This tour was a look at the early beginnings of the State of Israel.
One of the first things that Herzl does was creating a Jewish agency. Palestine begins to take steps towards Jewish settlement in the land of Israel. A piece of land was purchased and they held the land for a couple of years. According to Turkish Law if you have a piece of land and don’t do anything with it for 3 years, you will have to forfeit that piece of land. The Jewish agency realized that their time was up! So, they had to do something quick. They found a gentleman that knew something about agriculture by the name of Burman, they told him to “go up there, get some people and do something with this courtyard (pictures of the courtyard are displayed below) near the Sea of Galilee.” He gathered together some people and tried to do some work. The remarkable question is “where did these people come from?” According to our Zionist chronology in 1904 Herzl died. In 1905 the Zionist movement says that they had to commemorate their leader and founder, Theodore Herzl by planting a forest which is one the national forest of in Ben Shim’en near the airport of today. Mr. Burman was the Forman of this courtyard and the man in charge of the forest that was being planted. In order to plant a forest you need land and laborers. The laborers of that day were the local Arabs. It was frowned upon that Mr. Burman chooses to hire the local Arabs to plant the forest and this forest is in remembrance of Herzl, which goes against the Zionist movement. Burman’s argument was that he was looking for the cheapest laborers, which were the Arabs at the time. On the other hand the members of the Second Aliyah were hurt because they were not considered for the job of planting the forest in honor of Theodore Herzl. The members of the Second Aliyah wanted to know why they were not chosen to be apart of this major Zionistic movement. Therefore, the members of the Second Aliyah went to find Mr. Burman and they went to that particular forest. One of the men sat on Burman so that he could not move and the rest of them pulled up all the trees and told Mr. Burman “let this be a lesson to you, it’s part of an old Jewish principle, if you don’t punish without giving a warning, let this be a warning to you”. So, that point on Mr. Burman hired the members of the second Aliyah. And those members were the ones to replant the forest, but that was the last time that the Zionist movement would fail to turn the Hebrew, Jewish labor. In 1907-08 Burman had an opportunity to start up another farm near the Galilee. This time he immediately turned to the members of the Second Aliyah and asked them if they would like to be apart of this national project of building a farm, and they gladly accepted the opportunity to serve. (Below is a picture of Mr. Burman’s house.) After a year the farming was a success! And the land did not get converted back to Turkish ownership. The Jewish Agency comes in and says that Mr. Burman’s job is done, the mission was accomplished and they’re going to stop paying his salary and close up shop. The members of the farm want to stay even if there was not going to be a Forman in place. They believed they would make on their own. There were about 12 people on the farm that stayed. This was a very crucial move that they made and they began farming again. Retrospectively, what they did in that one year was create the Kibbutz. There was no employer or employee; it was a group of equal people willing to commit themselves to the land. Some of the people would later move around the corner and start Kibbutz De’Ganya. The ones that moved were socialist in their intentions and Labor Zionism was what they were all about. Other groups came over the next 30 years, and would work for that Kibbutz a while and learn what they needed to learn about agriculture, themselves and each other, and then they moved on to found Kibbutzim and other Kibbutz around the country. So, the first Kibbutz was found in this courtyard.
There was a Women’s Farm founded by Ms. Miszels, she ran the women’s training farm. It started by asking Ms. Rahel to enroll into the University and learn properly and come back and teach all of the trade of farming. In those days there was already an agricultural school, the school was called Mikvah Israel near Ben Shim’en, but only for men. So, Ms. Rahel had to go back to Europe. Mr. Gordon, a key person in the introductory film that we watched before starting the tour. The film mentioned that Rahel was not like everyone else, her and her sister were city girls, they didn’t know how they got here, but they integrated into their new life and learned Hebrew. What’s important is that she became paragon to the Second Aliyah, but she didn’t really start that way at all. Back to Gordon, he was in his forties and he came from Russia. He was the ideal of what was going on at the time, the agnostic rabbi, the guru that Rahel turns to for guidance about whether she should study or go to Europe. He was the authority and spiritual leader for this community. Gordon would coin the phrase “Religion of Labor”; not only would the Second Aliyah come here to rebuild the land physically but they would rebuild themselves in the process, redemption of the land and people by bring the land back to its rightful owners biblically, which are the Jewish people. They wanted to bring redemption back unto themselves through doing work. This work had redemptive values. These people weren’t religious in traditional Jewish sense; they were secular in their own personal lives. They related to their work “Adovah” working the land with the same devotion as a deeply spiritual religious person who practices the spiritual rituals, observing the commandments, and a religious life style. They believed that if they were doing physical labor they were changing themselves. The Hebrew word Adovah has a double meaning, means physical labor and describes what was done in the temple in the days of the temple, which was the divine service. They used really powerful language, for example when they purchased the land they called it “Redemption.” So, when Gordon would speak of the religion of labor, Adovah, he was really connected with the Jewish tradition in a very social way. Once upon a time our ancestors did the Adovah in the Temple and now they did the same activity and significance but it’s: plowing, weeding, interrogating and working in the fields in the land of Israel. So, these concepts go back to Gordon and that nourishes an entire generation, the Second and even the Third Aliyah. So, it’s to Gordon that Rahel asked whether she should go to Europe or stay and be apart of this movement, because she too was part of the Second Aliyah.
In another case we looked at Kibbutz Deganya, in Hebrew when translated directly appears to mean “grain of god”. This is not at all what these secular Jews meant to say. Actually the word “deganya” comes from the word “deganey” meaning grains of, and the letter “ey” in Hebrew represented the five types of grain that they intended to grow, there’s no god there at all. One of the first marriages in the Kibbutz was Miriam Barrots. This was the first celebration in the Kibbutz and no religious or metaphoric religious symbols have any meaning to them. So, they decided unanimously to renew the tradition, the wedding was performed with all tradition with one innovation. Instead of getting married under a cloth canopy, they used sheaves of wheat. Miriam as the bride felt she needed to sanctify herself. A traditional woman sanctifies herself by bathing in the mikvah, but she chose to sanctify herself through work, which is the core of life. To make her wedding day special she went to work in the fields extra hours. Even after the conclusion of celebrating her wedding she went right back to working in the fields, and this is an example of the extreme measures of the Religion of Labor. This was one good example of the ‘New Jew’ that they were seeking to create. The New Jew was going to be a person that was productive, self sufficient, independent, self reliant and capable of self-defense. And, in order to make these changes they felt they needed to make some radical moves. After some time people became overwhelmed with the theology and they began to leave the kibbutz and they founded Tel Aviv.
Soon after, Rahel met a man named Ezer Weizman a member of the second Aliyah and future president of the State of Israel. He was in the Jaffa area but had a curiosity about what was going on in the Kibbutz along the Galilee. Our tour guide read to us poems and essays concerning the romance that Rahel and Ezer had and Rahel’s struggle to depart from her comrades and the landscape of the Kibbutz to study in Europe after receiving the blessings of Gordon. During this time the land of Israel was just an image of Zion in the prayer book, but it was an actual reality and Zion was a place that Jews could pick-up and leave, to go to. Later we went to the cemetery down the road to see some of the famous people of this time period and movement. What we would find on the tomb stones were the following: a person’s name, the year that person made Aliyah (in place of where we would naturally see the date of birth), the person’s death is also included on the tombstone. The Aliyah was a rebirth experience so, placing the date of Aliyah meant the date they were born again. On other tombstones it displayed a person’s Yiddish name and their New Hebrew name which was symbolic of them shedding off their diasporas from which they came from. For example one of the tombstones said that they were “a person of the third Aliyah” simply meaning “I as an individual am not so important, but the group to which I belong to is what really counts” so this is the selfless devotion to the cause and that they are here to redeem their nation and they are a piece of the machinery, a part of the bigger project. This cemetery was a monumental spot for the Zionist movement. This is where some very important people either lived or did something famous. For instance Rahel is buried here, she died in Israel, but requested to be buried here. Some are people, who never lived at the Kibbutz and had nothing to do with this place, but the Zionist movement appropriated them, saying: “you are our founding mothers and fathers” and it was under this ideology that they were able to build what they had built.
One of the VIP’s of the cemetery was, Moses Hess, he was a socialist philosopher. He believed that socialism was going to solve the problem of humanity. Hess believed that they should always hold on to their socialism but be particularistic as Jews. Hess wrote a book titled (pre-Herzl) ”Roman Jerusalem” in the Talmud there is a passage that says “if Rome is flourishing, Jerusalem can’t be flourishing and if Jerusalem is flourishing, Rome can’t be flourishing”; meaning that they are two different world views that cannot co-exist, because Rome destroyed Jerusalem 2000 years ago. We also look at a person whose story was connected to this cemetery, Nathan the farmer. He represented a large number of people from the Second and Third Aliyah who committed suicide because they felt they were not worthy of the standard the community had set and they thought of themselves as a burden to the community, and seeing suicide from those of the Second Aliyah were common. The next tomb was of Naomi Shemer; she is the author of the song “Jerusalem of Gold” and about thousand other songs. She was the most prolific writer of songs. She has popular songs even today in Israel. She was from this area and when she died in 2004 there were so many people who came to her funeral that they had to have twelve parking lots for everyone’s cars and they shuttled people over by bus. Her tomb says she was born in 1930, so that means she was part of the Fourth Aliyah. Below is a picture of Rahel’s grave. It had a bench to sit on and two boxes built into the tomb that stored her poems, which were open to the public. She was a vivacious person but her poems were very sad and melancholy. She came back to the Kibbutz after studying at the University. After coming back she became sick and could not work with the kids anymore. The community sent her away, and she wondered around Jerusalem for four years and this is when she wrote most of her poetry is about the life she never had. She mentioned Mt. Nebo in one of her writings. Moses was buried on Mt. Nebo and this was one of the mountains that we passed coming up north. Moses was the one who lead the people through the desert for 40 years and never got a chance to enter into the Promise Land of Israel, and ever since the book of Deuteronomy the name of Mt. Nebo has represented coming very close to your dream but not quite realizing it, and Rahel had on her tombstone “everyone has their Mt. Nebo across from their Promise Land.”
The next stop we took in our tour was the city of Kiryat Shemonah. This was a city located in the Northern Hula Valley, just west of the Golan Heights. It was founded originally as a development town in 1949. Our group meet with a lady by the name of Hannah who deals with a community that experiences Katyusha Rockets; from time to time these are launched into towns in Northern Israel by the Hizbullah Islamic fundamentalist group stationed in Southern Lebanon. Residents are forced to sleep in bomb shelters, sometimes for days on end, in fear of the attacks. The Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006 paved how effective the Katyusha can be in disrupting the Israeli home front. During this war Hizbullah rockets reached as far south as Haifa.
The building that we were having our meeting with Hannah was originally a community center, then it was taken over by a college, then 5 years ago it was taken over by the Stress Prevention Center. A facility that was designed to train people to deal with stress prevention and located inside was a shelter that the community could come to be safe when rockets are being launched. For some more history on the town; development towns started in the 1950’s to house big waves of North African immigration that came in which were mostly Moroccans and Lithuanians. They were made up of large families who were traditional, religious, and Patriarchal and with a small amount of academic education. They came with skills in agriculture or trading. They were put into tin shacks in the various development towns. Truckloads of people were brought and dropped in various places. From a Zionistic perspective it was thought to create a nucleus population in the 1950’s. Water was needed to create a big Jewish population here, which is why people were brought here. The Kibbutzim around the area provided labor for those in the development towns, which represented the separation of the rich and the poor. There were several problems that Hannah had to deal with living and working in this area: the culture change and sock, which lead to sociological issues; the issue with security; families and their children; and evacuations when Katyusha Rockets are launched.
In the 1980’s there was a series of non-stop bombardment of Katyusha Rockets. Hannah works on a team of psychologist and social workers that go into the schools to work with the teachers on how to deal with the children after one of these attacks. The day after an attack would be a day they work to encourage all parents to feel comfortable enough to send their kids back to school. In class instead of the regular class work, they give the children the opportunity to draw or paint their expressions, feelings and emotions about the attacks, as an outlet for the children to deal with their experiences and not to bottle them up, because that could cause damage to a child. The town is divided into five sections, each having its own social worker. There has been many casualties over the years; here is one case for example: Hannah told us about two individuals who were killed by two separate Katyusha Rockets that came from two different areas of town in one particular raid. Both people were taking a smoke. One person was at the entrance of the Municipality Shelter, he was a community worker and he had one foot in the shelter and one foot outside and he was killed. The other person went home from the shelter and went to take a smoke on the top of his roof and he was hit directly. In these situations, minutes were very crucial. So, even if your in the shelter it’s not 100% secure because you can’t stay inside 24x7 and not get some fresh air and go about your daily life. One other way they tried to secure the people of this town were by setting up evacuations with a bus that they had. Even though this sounded like a wonderful idea, it caused many problems. First try, they created a list of kids that they would evacuate, but they could only take as many as the bus would hold. In this case there were going to be some kids that would be left with their families. No matter how the list was constructed they would always end up with kids who were not on the list, because in the mist of all the firing of the Rockets, checking the list in those conditions ‘go out the window’ which brought upon another problem with some of the problematic kids appearing on the bus and having to deal with their behavioral problems. On the second try, they created a list of families chosen by the agency. The problem that occurred with this was that the 50 families selected would tell another 50 and promise them that they would get them on the bus so, when it came time to evacuate there’s more than 100 families at the door of the bus. These situations made it vary hard for the social workers to navigate through the crowds of people so, most of the time it was the physically stronger families that would find a seat on the bus. These buses would even have to be careful about how and when it pulled off with the people from the town so, that the bus would not get hit also by the Katyusha Rockets. Many of these buses went to the city of Eliot and most of the citizens would chose to come back to Kiryat Shemonah, just because its home to them, even if it is very dangerous at times. Hannah did reassure that the citizens do enjoy living here and they have community events and entertainment. It’s just in those times that some Israeli might have done something wrong or Israel and Lebanon are discussing a matter that it makes living hard, but this is not an every year living situation. The city has been free of Katyusha Rockets for 2 years now and they hope for the better in the years to come.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wohl Rose Garden (Avram's final prodject)

Wohl Rose Garden
The final project that I decided to work on was the Wohl Rose Garden after my first spark of interest occurred when I saw some handicapped protestors on my first study abroad program, right before this one. During this program, we arrived at the Rose Garden on our Capital tour and I noticed them again along with all the other protesters. After seeing them again, I confirmed my decision that my final project would be on this garden’s history and the current protestors. During that second visit, we had a lunch, we gave our extra food to the handicapped protesters, and I learned that these people are very friendly and excellent candidates for an interview.
When I finally obtained an opportunity to make my return back to the Rose Garden, I went directly to the handicapped protestors to discover what their goals were. This task didn’t happen until I took several buses just trying to locate this place. The final bus took several detours because of the protests blocking the streets. They announced the reasoning for the detours and I could see the annoyance with the handicapped on many of the faces on the bus. When I finally arrived, it was so amazing, at least in my opinion, how this protest had enough strength with their rights to close off the main street of the capital without to many problems with the cops. At the handicapped protesting station, I found many people eagerly waiting to discuss their situation with me. The first person named Benny talked to me and explained how grateful he is to live in this democracy where people can strike and protest when the people see injustices within the society. After expressing his extreme gratitude for his government’s political structure, he started using his rights to show frustrations upon the injustices he perceives.
As Benny began expressing his frustrations he told me what was at the root of these injustices in the first place. The main cause is that the government pay actually decreased in the past seven years by nearly half. This pay cut causes a huge issue because these people cannot live off this pay when trying to pay for food, housing, and petrol to fuel their cars. This has become an increasing concern especially since these products’ prices have drastically increased during the past seven years. On top of this, many of the handicap people require twenty-four hour care giving and this funding is not enough for them to pay their workers. In many cases, if the extremely disabled people devoted all of their funding for care giving they would still fall short of being able to pay them.
In the recent days, the government has focused on just one of the issues over which the handicap people have expressed concern. The resolution is to increase the ability for disabled people to work while still getting funding. Currently, he describes that the law holds that if someone who is handicapped makes 1,060 ₪ or more per month, they will no longer obtain any governmental funding. To many, this would discourage them from working because at they might receive less total money or about the same and they would have to spend time working. The new bill, if passed, would encourage disabled members of society to work because the 1,060₪ mark will only be the point where governmental funding will just start to reduce. Once the people make 5,400 ₪, then their funding will be eliminated. Another important change with this would allow the disabled person to receive their full government payment immediately when they cannot work for any reason and not have to wait to receive their funding as they do now.
Since the recent cuts in funding, the most severe disability can only receive government funding of 2,100₪ per month. This amount of money is roughly 600 United States Dollars and almost any American would agree that it is difficult to live off this amount even without considering the expenditures of having a disability. This amount varies drastically depending upon the severity of the disability, obviously. For example, if a person can still work, then they would receive much less than someone who cannot participate in society because of their individual disability. He kept bringing up the point that this money does not even come close to the cost of living especially if someone needs a caregiver around the clock.
Then I had a chance to talk to a woman whose husband is disabled and she supports him by helping him organize this protest he wanted to start. She decided to take a few moments to explain answers to any other questions I still had. I was quick to discover that Benny did a good job, but I still obtained a few more minor details about the protest. One of which was the reasoning behind the police officers blocking of the street. It is completely for the safety of the disabled protestors so they do not have to be at risk of being hit accidentally by a vehicle that normally passes through. Then she went on to tell me what would ultimately satisfy the protesters. They would be satisfied with the government completely paying for the petrol for their cars, and caregivers for those who require one. Another interesting fact is that there are approximately 180,000 Israelis currently eligible for funding. Her last remark was that anyone could become disabled by just crossing the street so it is very important to support every handicapped person because it can be you one day. This got me thinking about how many of these people were in perfect shape at birth and some accident in their life caused them to have the need for assistance from the state.
Then I talked to David Sinai who is a Jew originally from Morocco before he moved to Israel in 1962. When I approached him, he was interested to see who I was and what I wanted to know. With great curiosity, I asked him what he was protesting about and he was quick to respond and say that he is conducting a personal, private protest in regards to a civil case but he wanted to refrain from any details. Then he explained how this is his first time protesting and he had to get permission from to Knesset to stay for a long period in a tent at this particular location. If that was not enough, he then had to get the police to approve his request. He finally was able to begin his protest on 7 May, 2007. Several of the other people who have been protesting arrived in their tents over three years ago. His protest is very silent so the media never once has visited him nor any member of the Knesset. Most people would find this very discouraging, but David is very committed to his protest so much so that he has not returned to his home in the Golan Heights since he began to protest. Since he has been here he has seen several groups of protestors that have included the people from Darfur who stayed about a year ago for two or three weeks, and the other group he saw was the Bedouins who also stayed for a few weeks. Other than that, it has been quiet by him except for the new group of disabled protestors, tourist groups that pass through and ask question, some people protesting by the Supreme Court to leave Gaza, and teacher strikes there for only a few days.
For at least thirty-five years, this place has served as a protest location as he remembers people protesting after the Yom Kippur War. He is not sure if this location was used for protest immediately after the building of the Knesset, which was completed in 1966. This location has served similar purposes to the Washington D.C. “Mall”.
To me, it is important that the government looks out for every individual to have their representation with the right of a protest. I also learned through the discussions with various people there that the Knesset does a great job representing the people because the country has many political parties and each has direct representation upon how the country votes in its elections. This experience has given me a good outlook on how the country allows you to express your issues publicly as long as you receive permission and keep them relatively peaceful.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Haredi Lifestyle—Emily Forrest

There are many misconceptions that surround the Haredi community. Many people pass judgment on the Haredi people and fail to investigate why many of their customs are in place. Through conducting interviews and spending time with a Haredim family, I was able to understand the impressions people got from the Haredi community and also understand the other side of the story. While conducting interviews I realized a lot of people only created opinions of the Haredim by things they had observed, rather than getting to know the Haredi people. I decided then to take it upon myself and develop a relationship with a Haredim family to better understand their laws.

Sarah and Shel Frankel immigrated to Israel in the mid 1990’s from the United States and have begun raising a family here in Jerusalem. With three young girls, the Frankels have instilled their Ultra Orthodox values in their daughters by strictly following Jewish Law. Through observing family interactions and dinner conversations I was able to really appreciate their way of life. Though it may be different, the values they’re teaching their children are completely justified and understandable given their explanations. Although this is not how I would raise my children, given their passion for their faith this is the correct lifestyle for their family. Before discussing their family traditions I was very judgmental of their lifestyle. I shared the same feelings as many of the people I interviewed that the Haredi Laws were extremely pro-male advancement and completely left women in the background. Although, after discussing Jewish Law with the Frankels their story made the Haredi community more human, and legitimized their lifestyle. I was able to learn and understand, and really appreciate their ideals.

Before meeting with the Frankels I conducted interview around Hebrew University’s campus to a mixture of people from all diverse backgrounds. The main consensus that I got was many people felt the Haredim were a very anti-feministic society. One girl mentioned, “The gender roles are clearly marked and heaven forbid anyone cross them.” This female is referring to her observations of a pregnant woman pushing a baby cart up a steep Jerusalem hill while her husband walked up the same hill. Women are in charge of all household duties and making money to support the family. The largest confusion is that Haredi men don’t give their wife’s recognition for the work they do to support their husbands. A male I interviewed said he feels it would be great to just study the Torah and not do any work. Although he was sarcastic, the impression that men don’t have an equal share of marital duties exists among people outside of the community.

While instances like this girl described happen, other ways of appreciating wives occur. While I visited the Frankel family I observed Sarah doing all the picking up and took immediate responsibility to her children. But looking in Shel’s eyes it was obvious he longed for more involvement in his children’s lives. While sitting with him he said, “They don’t love me as much as they love her [Sarah].” He looked at Sarah has having the most influence in their children’s lives and he said he felt he missed out on a lot of things because she was always their “go-to” person. While people believed men in Haredi communities do not want to cross those gender roles, once you enter the home and you put society aside it seems men long to have more involvement. The Haredi society puts a lot of pressure on men to study the Torah and stick to those gender roles, so disregarding society and entering the safe haven of the home, people can show their true desires.

Along with desiring more family involvement there are religious traditions that show men’s appreciation to their wives. Lighting the Shabbat candles, symbolizing the start of the holiest day, gives women much pride and importance in the celebration. Also before the dinner the husband sings a blessing to his wife. The words, “Her husband laces his trust in her and only profits thereby,” show the dedication the husband has towards his wife and how he could not go on without her by his side. Later in the blessing the man recognizes all that she does for him and the family and praises her for her “strength and dignity.” Every week the man sings this blessing to his wife, and it truly shows his dedication to her.

On the contrary there are negative forces towards women within the community. While women are given the opportunity to enter the work force and make money for their family, many people recently fear women are becoming too independent and therefore delaying their family obligations of getting married and having a family. A recent article in Haaretz shows the ruling of the Rabbinic Council to limit the education of women. Before women were educated in many different subjects such as literature, science, math and history in order to prepare them for the workforce. Now, the Rabbinic Council believes, “This has shifted the balance of power within ultra-Orthodox society. The women have established themselves as breadwinners, and as more educated and independent.” Statics have shown that today, more and more girls are delaying getting married and having children. This threatens the entire Ultra Orthodox society and the Rabbinic Council feels the best decision would to halt bachelor degree programs. This would result in only allowing women to complete their teaching certificate. This would then “solve” the problem of delayed marriages and allow women to have children.

Although this article oppresses women by discontinuing their education it is not the entire consensus of the community. Only a small majority of people feel women are becoming unruly because of their independence received by education. While education is being limited, women are branching out in their clothing and embracing their femininity. More women are buying wigs, still covering their hair, but also still feeling beautiful in their skin. Clothing is changing; the idea that all Haredi women only wear dark colors is changing. More women are dressing in lighter and brighter colors showing off their figures. While walking through the streets of a Haredi community you can see the divide in “old” Haredim and “new” Haredim. The “new” are still following Jewish law but are changing their style of dress to show off their femininity.

While the clothing is beginning to change in some Haredi sects, others are sticking to the traditional Polish clothing. Men who wear black hats, ¾ length jackets and pants, show their dedication to their heritage and modesty. Men also wear Tzitzit, a 4-cornered shirt with tassels representing Moses’ 4-corner garment. The call to wear this 4-cornered jacket is in Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Jewish Bible. The men also show their manhood by not shaving their beards as soon as the first boy is born into the family. Women have the same type of customs. Their clothing shows their commitment to modesty. Women cover their hair when married, wear long sleeved shirts, long skirts and often cover their legs with either socks or pantyhose. When I discussed this clothing style with Sarah she liked dressing this way. Some people, she felt, believed the clothing is made to make women unattractive, but she feels it’s more to be less attracting. By not dressing provocatively men are less accustomed to approach you and make sexual references. She mentioned, ‘As a married woman I do not want men coming up to me in inappropriate manners, and neither do I want that for my children.” By dressing to these modest standards the Haredi community is channeling provocative behavior and creating an age appropriate community.

Some people feel the dress code for women is sexists in that it doesn’t allow women to show their individuality. One argument against this is the evolution of clothing within the Haredi community. The fact that women are beginning to now wear wigs, and are outwardly expressing themselves by different colors and styles, shows the evolution of clothing within the Haredim. Others would argue that men and women are held to the same modesty requirements. Therefore, this is not a sexist community because both sexes are treated the same and held to the same standards.

Although these counterarguments exists the people I interviewed still felt that women were hiding themselves under clothing; sacrificing their femininity to control the urges of males. One female said, “why should they [women] pay the price for mans inability to control their urges and stay focused on the Torah.” When I discussed this argument with Shel, he said, “What are men supposed to do, stay inside?” Instead both men and women are held to the same modesty standards and are both able to focus on studying the Torah. One Rabbi in Huntingwoods, Michigan said, these temptations for the opposite sex are natural, and in order to keep temptations at the minimum and not control peoples lives would be to enforce modesty and Kosher rules.

Lastly, most people I interviewed had some misunderstandings on the religious practices of the Haredim. Some people misunderstood the intention for separating the sexes in daily life and in Synagogue. The Haredim believe it is the best way to keep people focused on God. By channeling temptations for the opposite sex to something greater such as your relationship with God, the Haredim constitute gender separation. Also some people disagree with the extreme view Haredim follow the Torah. Some non-religious Jews feel by taking every passage literally is somewhat obsessive. The Haredim, on the opposing side, feel that by following Jewish Law they are singlehandedly brining the coming of the Messiah.

There are many misconceptions surrounding the Haredi community. Many people disagree with the separation of sexes in social and religious settings, claiming this is one of many customs that constitutes anti-feministic behavior. While members of the Haredi community feel this type of separation allows people to channel their temptations for a greater good. Others feel the gender roles and educational institutes continue to put females in the background. After speaking with the Frankel’s I received explanations for all these customs and traditions of the Haredi community. Although some of the explanations do not fully change doubter’s minds, hopefully they do bring awareness to the Haredi belief systems.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Media Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict—Zack Colman

The role of the media in the Israel/Palestine conflict cannot be underestimated. As an American, the common picture we see of Israel is one of violence and perpetual unrest. We do not get to see the inner-workings of Israeli society. We do not get to hear about the millions of people who crave peace — we only hear about the minority that does its best to prevent peace. But, as we noticed from living in Israel, while terror and fear is certainly part of daily life, it tends to be exaggerated by the American media.
The media has the ability to shape the public’s perception of the world, and it does so by being society’s gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is quite possibly the most important function of journalism. Journalists single-handedly decide what the public will read, see and hear. They decide how important the issue is by where the story is placed in a newspaper or news broadcast. They can decide to not print or broadcast anything about a story at all.
Gatekeepers, though, are humans, and humans have natural biases. With many powerful members of the media being Jewish, it is no surprise that the Israel/Palestine conflict gets a massive amount of coverage and prominent placement in television broadcasts and newspapers. Abe M. Rosenthal, the former editor of the New York Times, was a Jewish man with a pro-Israel stance. As people look back to the “newspapers of record,” Rosenthal’s stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict will continue to influence scholars. But gatekeeper bias doesn’t stop at the gatekeeper himself — in order to get more bylines and more big stories, reporters have to cater to what their editors desire and their editors’ biases. The whole chain of command below Rosenthal, therefore, took a pro-Israel stance whether they liked it or not.
One thing greatly affecting the way newspapers are run is the current crisis the industry faces with the emergence of the Internet. On the Internet, people can receive real-time updated news for free, and newspapers have yet to find a way to make advertising (through which most revenues are earned) profitable. People have developed what is called “banner blindness” and thus do not even notice advertisements on the Internet. The free, more in-depth content on the Internet has led to a decline in subscriptions. As a result, newspapers have cut staff, page size, story size, and international news coverage.
This presents a major problem for the Israel/Palestine conflict. As newspaper organizations continue to cut and cut, they will become more localized — even “hyper-localized.” Soon enough, coverage of international events will be left to a select few wire services that don’t have the space to go in-depth or run human-interest stories. There will be fewer news outlets to offer their opinions and we will end up with the same take on international events.
This doesn’t sound all that bad until you take into account the “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy. In order to capture viewers or sell papers off the newsstands, news organizations tend to emphasize the guts and gore of the world. Stories about gruesome killings sell more than ones about the economy or new fashion trends, and news organizations know this. By attracting subscribers or viewers, news organizations can then gain more advertisers and pad their pockets.
Now, take these two problems and put them together. What you have is less space devoted to international coverage (which is the content are declining most at newspapers, according to a July study), but an engrained penchant for publishing the guts and gore of the world. When discussing the Israel/Palestine conflict, what you will get from this equation is fewer articles that deal with issues other than terrorist attacks or threats to any sort of stability in the area. Even now, there is a lack of coverage concerning matters of peace (I browsed a month’s worth of articles on and found only one dealing with peace) and most stories about Israel will be about a possible attack on or from Iran or terrorist attacks. With less space devoted to international coverage, this is all readers will be likely to see from Israel.
Linda Gradstein of National Public Radio has said it’s already difficult enough to push through human-interest stories about Israel. Peace coverage generally fails to get into the mainstream media because it would change the image the media has concocted about the region. Much of this image rests on the journalism concept of currency.
Currency, in journalism terms, is following an event from beginning to end. This is most common in court trials, where the story will recapitulate the series of events leading up to today’s news at the end of the main story.
With the Israel/Palestine conflict, currency presents two problems. Since most stories about Israel relate to terrorism and death, recounting previous events at the end of each story only serves to embed the idea that Israel is a dangerous place. It doesn’t allow the reader to think maybe this is an isolated incident — by listing everything that happened before (even if years apart), it gives a negative image of the area.
The most significant problem with currency is context — where does one start to recount events? With thousands of years of history, it’s impossible to go all the way back to the beginning of the land to explain the conflict. But with so many uneducated people in the world, a history lesson would go a long way to eliminate potential biases and confusion. By not giving enough context (or too much), though, reporters run the risk of being tagged as an Israeli or Palestinian sympathizer, depending on the circumstances.
Assumed bias is difficult to avoid with such an emotional topic, especially when people don’t understand the true meaning of “balance and fairness.” Most people expect that “balance and fairness” means equal representation of both sides in a story, which is not the case. In a story where three Israelis are killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber, some sources don’t need to be contacted. For example, there would be no need to speak with a Palestinian about the event — he would say the Israelis got what they deserved, and this would further fan the flames without adding anything of value to the story. At the same time, though, Palestinian sympathizers would say the Western media has once again thwarted them. Still, there is not much a journalist can do to quiet these people.
What then is the role of the media? Clearly there is a large problem facing international news media, as there will be fewer and fewer pages for fewer and fewer staff to devote to such coverage. And, if you’re an international news reporter who needs to get published, you’re going to write about what is traditionally eye-catching — inhumane violence, terrorism, war. As Gradstein mentioned, it’s already hard enough to publish a human-interest story, and it’s only going to get harder given the constraints the news media has to deal with.
The media’s role is generally understood as unbiased observer. The media takes information from various sources, pieces them together in an entertaining and informative way, and then presents them to readers in a logical manner. There is no real room for interpretation, as that would present a sort of bias.
But when you have the pen, when you have the public’s eyes and ears held captive, should you do more, as a journalist, to shape the way the world works? In some ways, journalists accomplish this through editorials. Generally, though, editorials are about more localized or national issues — hardly ever will international events be discussed in an editorial, unless it is giving the American government advice. Therefore, editorial content about the Israel/Palestine conflict is absent unless the U.S. is involved.
There are hardly any stories about terrorist attacks in Israel that mention peace negotiations. It seems to me that such a mention would flow logically in such a story, yet the connection is rarely made. In fact, had second the bulldozer attack not occurred, I doubt I would have even known it was on the same day Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert were meeting to discuss peace. There was no coverage about such a meeting before the attack, only a mention about it after the attack — but no separate story for the meeting was published.
It could very well be that the media has no business sticking its nose in peace talks. Obviously, publishing peace negotiations or progress (if one were lucky enough to retrieve such information) could derail such negotiations or progress. But, at the same time, it could also expedite them. Unfortunately, there are not enough historical examples to point to one direction or the other.
Maybe, though, that means it’s time to start writing about peace in the Middle East instead of violence — however infrequent both of them are.

Magen David Adom in Jerusalem—Becca Steinman

By: Becca Steinman

Jerusalem is a heavily populated city. One can see crowded sidewalks, busy streets, history, religion, tension, love, hatred, and sometimes war. Israelis feel safe in Israel. There is protection and security where ever you go. However, this can’t protect you from the car accidents, attacks, or even the freak accidents. So who are the first people to respond when someone is hurt? Magen David Adom is who the Israelis can count on to come to the rescue.

Magen David Adom (MDA for short) is the only ambulance service in Israel. Magen David Adom was created in response to the Arab riots in 1929. Jews living in Palestine during this period of time saw the necessity for a quick and responsive form of medical help. They felt that an ambulance service was the best way to provide quick transportation and treatment. Therefore, Magen David Adom was founded in 1930 in Tel Aviv to meet this need. The MDA building was about the size of a small shack and the only assets that they had were one ambulance full of basic medical supplies (4.) Here, in Tel Aviv was the beginning of what would later become a huge international organization.

Before understanding Magen David Adom in Jerusalem, one must know the facts about this organization. Magen David Adom means “The Red Star of David” in English. MDA is also a part of the International Red Cross. In recent years, MDA has teamed up with the Red Crescent Movement. The Red Crescent Movement is an equal movement to MDA. It too is a part of the International Red Cross. Both MDA and the Red Crescent Movement joined the International Red Cross in 2006 where Hillary Clinton was present to announce the happy occasion. The Red Crescent movement can be found in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Magen David Adom wont put a cross or star on their ambulance because it is a Jewish service and the Red Crescent movement only has a Crescent on their ambulance for the same reason (3.)

Magen David Adom and the Red Crescent Movement follow seven important Fundamental Principals:

    1. Humanity: To protect human life and ensure respect for all human beings with cooperation and friendship amongst everyone.
    2. Impartiality: No discrimination of race, religion, class or political opinions.
    3. Neutrality: No taking sides in any situation
    4. Independence: They are independent movements and will work alongside other movements but will not necessarily always take the same stance.
    5. Voluntary Service: No one is hired prompted by desire for gain.
    6. Unity: There is only 1 Red Cross, MDA or Red Crescent Movement but all are open to everyone in either community or society.
    7. University: They committed to helping nationally and worldwide with equal status amongst other nations. For example: MDA was part of the Katrina Relief effort in America after Hurricane Katrina.


With the facts given above, one is now able to understand the over all function of this organization and can now understand the purpose of the Jerusalem Magen David Adom Station. The location of the Magen David Adom Jerusalem main station is in Romema, Jerusalem and is the third MDA location. This obviously means that it is part of the Jerusalem Region. The first building was erected in 1963, renovated in 1970 and is going to be renovated in 2008. The expansion was supposed to begin in February of 2008 but unfortunately there has not been any work done on it since the placing of the corner stone back in February. This station has a paid staff of about 60 paramedics, 90 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), 160 ambulances drivers, and 600 constant and solid volunteers. The Jerusalem Region is the largest region in the country, supplying service from the border of the West Bank Territories to the Jordan Valley and from Beit Shemesh to the Dead Sea. This means that there are about 1 million people in this service area. In fact, in 2007, there were about 3,150 volunteers for the Jerusalem region (1.) This region includes stations located in Pisgat Zeev,Makor Chaim, Ofrah, Talmon, Efrat, Tekoa, Gush Etzion, Zur Hadassah, The Old City, Beitar Ilit, Biet Shemesh ,Maaleh Adumim, Givat Zeev, Megilot, and the Knesset. The Jerusalem region also includes blood banks, regional and national dispatching center, regional management, and both volunteer and training departments (2.) It also has the highest amount of blood usage in the country. However, all of the blood that is donated is used 100% in the Israeli Defense force and makes up 95% of the blood found in other Israeli hospitals. The MDA Jerusalem region also supplies service to both of the Hadassah hospitals, Shaare Zedek, and Bikur Holim (5.) These are the three hospitals located in Jerusalem.

An interesting fact is that Magen David Adom has two different kinds of ambulances. One kind is just a regular ambulance with basic medical supplies. These are ambulances that usually just drive around the city and are placed at special events. They are recognized by their colors yellow and red. There are also intensive care ambulances, which are placed in highly populated areas, and areas that need high security and control. They can be defined by their colors white and red. Some of these ambulances can be found around Jerusalem on Ben Yahuda Street and near the Knesset. There are also other vehicles that Jerusalem uses for medical transportation as well. They use motorcycles and have equipped them with a large metal box on the back including the most important life saving necessities. These motorcycles are designed especially for the Jerusalem region because of the Old City. It is very hard to get an ambulance in to specific areas of the Old City so these motorcycles carrying supplies can rush to a scene and get the situation under control until the person can be moved or until an ambulance can get within range of the patient (5.)

One thing that Magen David Adom in Jerusalem places a lot of importance on is strategic placement. MDA Jerusalem region not only strategically places their ambulances, but they have also strategically placed their absorption centers. These are centers where ambulances can be dispatched. MDA Jerusalem recognizes the fact that Jerusalem is a highly populated city full of religious tensions and that an accident or attack can occur at any moment. Therefore they strategically place ambulances at high-risk areas to be able to have faster response times and therefore have a better chance at saving a patients life. The absorption centers have also been erected in strategically chosen locations in order to also provide a quick response time. These absorption centers also have certain areas that they supply service to, and within these areas there are designated hospitals that people are taken to. This is designed to ensure efficiency and accuracy. For example, the response time for an ambulance that arrived on the scene at the attack on July 22nd near King David Hotel was 4 minutes and 23 seconds. That is because there was an ambulance nearby that was strategically placed there since it is considered a high-risk area. MDA posts that position every day and this ensured a quick response time and fortunately saved lives. Nobody was killed in this particular attack (5.)

For people who are interested in volunteering for Magen David Adom, there are various options. However, the most popular option for American’s is Hagshama. Hagshama heavily subsidizes trips to Israel and training for participants. However, anybody who wants to volunteer for MDA must train at the main station in Romema, Jerusalem. Training programs like Hagshama also provide activities like trips to the Old City and Mount Herzl to help participants get a better understanding of Jerusalem. It is definitely a great experience for anybody who is interested in the medical field. No experience is required and everybody does what he or she is comfortable with. All the training is provided during the training sessions in Romema (5.)

So what can be done to help this organization that started out with only one ambulance? Well, for starters, stop donating ambulances! The Jerusalem Region has too many ambulances but not enough medical supplies. Communities like to donate ambulances to Jerusalem because they know that it is the biggest region and they like to see their name on the side of an ambulance. They like to donate something that will be seen by many people. However, what Jerusalem really needs are defibrillators, syringes, heart monitors, and other medical supplies. Communities are not donating these items because they know that people will probably not recognize their name on the side of a defibrillator or heart monitor (5.)

Magen David Adom is very vital to the existence of the Israeli population. The Jerusalem Region is not just the biggest but is also an example to the rest of the organization. Hopefully, with the help of donations and volunteering from other countries and communities, Magen David Adom will be able to continue saving lives every day.


1.) American Friends of Magen David Adom. 7/21/2008/.

2.) Magen David Adom in Israel. 7/21/2008.

3.) Magen David Adom in Israel. 7/21/2008.

4.) MDA in Israel. 7/21/2008.

5.) Noormid, Michael. Phone Interview. 7/20/2008.

Where Has All the Water Gone?—Eric Dropkin & Elina Fonarev

Where Has All the Water Gone?—Eric Dropkin & Elina Fonarev

With the changing environment and the large population growth that will occur throughout the next few decades the water supply in Israel will become even more insufficient. All over the world ground water tables are falling and depleting at an astonishing rate. This is especially the case in the Middle East and Israel where water is becoming a scarcity. The Sea of Galilee and the aquifers within Jerusalem are approaching the black line. Over the next 50 years, wars will no longer be fought over oil, but water, which is why a case study will be conducted in dealing with the water supply within east and west Jerusalem. It is suggested that the water crisis is not only a natural phenomena but also created by mismanagement. This mismanagement of water in Jerusalem leads to a conflict between east and west Jerusalem inhabitants as well as a general crisis within the city.
If one traces the history of water within Jerusalem one can start to understand the circumstances of the current water crisis and the politics that surround it. In the city of David, around 700 BCE, Hezekiah's tunnel carried water from The Gihon Spring into the city. The Gihon Spring was outside the city walls; therefore, the tunnel was used to generate a constant supply of water to the city, which was especially important during times of siege and war. The tunnel was built in reaction to a fear of assault by the Assyrians. This way, the Assyrians would not be able to acquire water and would be forced to either surrender or travel to farther places to find water and eventually fail in their attempts to take over the city. In reality, there are actually multiple tunnels leading from the spring into the city, but Hezekiah’s is one of the most famous, and was cut acutely by two teams following a natural fault in the rock. Here one sees the most basic politics concerning water during the time of the City of David. Not only was water important to a political situation but also for sustaining life; thus, the tunnel represents how important water was throughout Jerusalem’s history.
The mismanagement of water in Jerusalem began as early as 1516 when the Ottomans conquered Israel. While the establishment of Ottoman rule brought the first water pipes to Jerusalem, the city was not seen as significant and thus the water supply was poorly orchestrated. Suleiman the Magnificent did however establish pipes to feed water to the Sabils (water fountains) throughout the city. These Sabils were an attempt to create a more hospitable environment for pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem as well as to those who had already settled there. Still, most families received little water, and the water that they did obtain came from community wells or cisterns which were filled by rain water. According to Itai Naamat, a student in the Department of Soil and Water Sciences at Hebrew University, the cisterns and wells often pulled water from the same aquifer below the city. Politically, during the time of the Turkish rule, Jerusalem was not seen as significant a place as it is today, thus, there was no money or time put into the up-keep of the city and it remained under unfavorable conditions until the British Mandate.
Following the defeat of the Turks in World War I, the British were given control of Jerusalem and Palestine under a mandate system. During what would later be called the British mandate, Jerusalem was modernized. Roads and hotels were built; this included a modern water system, houses were connected by pipes and running water rather then local community wells. After independence was declared in 1948, west Jerusalem was controlled by Israel, and east Jerusalem was under the authority of Jordan. This division led to the current political tension concerning water within Jerusalem.
The total population of municipal Jerusalem was approximately 680,000 in 2005; of that 680,000, Palestinian residents made up approximately 33 percent of the population in Jerusalem while Jewish residents account for the other 67 percent of the population. Like all of Israel, Jerusalem gets the majority of its water from the Mekorot Water Company. Mekorot Water Company Ltd. is a Government-owned national water supply company. Mekorot produces and supplies roughly two-thirds of the total amount of water used in Israel. As the national water supply company it is responsible for managing the country's water resources, developing new sources, and ensuring regular delivery of water to all localities. This is important because here one can try to distinguish between national policies and policies within Jerusalem. While Mekorot supplies the majority of the water, the Jerusalem municipality is responsible for the up-keep of pipes and infrastructure within both east and west Jerusalem. However, because East Jerusalem has only been under Israeli since 1967 its infrastructure has been slower to change and modernize especially with West Jerusalem’s current mismanagement crisis.
Jerusalem has virtually no water supply of its own and as a result of ineffective water infrastructure and city planning water is becoming more and more sparse. Currently Jerusalem gets the majority of its water from four pipes that stem from the Keneret. Also, it draws a significant portion of water from the Aquifer. Thus, Jerusalem gets little water from these two areas, and as a result of its population growth and mismanagement, the water received is not enough to maintain both agriculture and potable use. According to Mekorot chairman Eli Ronen, “With the rising Jerusalem population and the expansion of the city into new neighborhoods water demand will continue to increase.” Mr. Mazon, Director of joint Jewish and Palestinian Water Committee, suggests that for the last 20 years the city has neglected to carefully manage the water supply and the infrastructure. Therefore, the current water crisis exists today in both east and west Jerusalem.
If one looks at the data associated with water supply and demand within east and west Jerusalem there is a discrepancy between the two sides of the city. Residents in East Jerusalem often have no water for four to five days out of the week. Also, the price of water that East Jerusalem residents must pay is 25 percent more than that of the residents that live within West Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Jewish neighborhoods in the Jerusalem area use four times the amount of water that Palestinian villages use, even though there are fewer infrastructures per inhabitant. The difference in water quality that East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem receives is also different. East Jerusalem gets its water directly from the mountain aquifer making its water more polluted than West Jerusalem, who uses recycled water as well as water pumped in from the northern regions of Israel. This has to do with the fact that East Jerusalem does not have a treatment plant while West Jerusalem does. In 1999 the Soreq sewage treatment plant was opened, the plant purifies sewage from West Jerusalem, while there is no treatment plant for East Jerusalem. Due to the poor sewage system in Jerusalem much of the waste that leaves the pipes gets carried out to streams and valleys in the West Bank and enters the mountain aquifer. Critics have argued that this amounts to discrimination and neglect on the part of the Israeli and local Jerusalem governments. This causes arguments between East Jerusalem residents that West Jerusalem is favored while East Jerusalem is neglected.
There are multiple theories of why there are inequalities in the water supply between east and west Jerusalem. After the 1967 war, Israel reunited east and west Jerusalem and the Jerusalem municipality agreed to take over the East Jerusalem Arab villages as well as the laws that govern the city. Here is where one starts to see the major arguments that deal with the disproportionate water supplies to east and west Jerusalem. According to Ahron Roseber of the Jerusalem municipality, the infrastructure in East Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 was neglected. She suggests that the water problems in East Jerusalem came from this neglect rather then current local policy. Furthermore, she pointed out that Palestinian neighborhoods are growing at a faster rate then those of West Jerusalem. This growth rate is putting higher stress on an older water system, causing the previously mentioned problems. It’s not that the Israeli government is shutting off the water to East Jerusalem like some Palestinians may suggest, but rather that there own demand is causing the shortage. She then suggested that due to higher demand and weaker infrastructure, residence in East Jerusalem pay more for water than those that live in the west. Furthermore, Israeli officials suggest that Arab villages in east Jerusalem have dug illegal wells, hastening the water shortage. Thus, East Jerusalem is facing a graver water situation than West Jerusalem.
However, there have been attempts to help stop the water shortage. There are multiple plans in the works. There are plans to build a fifth water pipe to supply more water to Jerusalem. The new system will include: a 3.5 meter in diameter tunnel, 14 km long and dug beneath the Judean Hills as well as pumping stations, reservoirs, and transformer stations. The pipeline will supply up to 500,000 cu. m. of water a day at a peak operating capacity (150 million cubic meters a year) from Israel’s coastal plain to the elevated heights of Jerusalem. If predictions are correct, this pipeline could provide enough water for the next 30 years to both east and west Jerusalem. Also, there are attempts to improve water conservation within the city. Normally only 60 to 80 percent of water pumped through a city is actually used while the rest escapes out of the water pipes as a result of pressure which overloads the pipes and causes them to leak. Israel is implementing The Smart Pressure Reduction Controller (SPRC) in Jerusalem. SPRC automatically sets the pressure according to water demand in real time, so that when demand is low, the pressure is lower, and less water leaks out. Another proposition to help the water crisis is to build a canal from the Jordan River to the Red Sea. The Jordan River is in bad condition because of decades of overuse and abuse. The lower portion of the river has been reduced to a seep of mainly raw sewage and saltwater runoff. Thus, in an attempt to clean this area as well as to provide water plans for a canal have been offered. However, with much opposition from Jordan and Egypt as well as environmentalists, this proposal was put on hold if not eliminated altogether as an option.
Today, when people are asked about the water problem that Jerusalem is facing most do not even realize it is a problem. In 2001, when there was a giant drought, many were aware of the situation. However, not much has been done to secure water for the future. East and west Jerusalem are still facing a water shortage question with many solutions but few attempts to actually compromise on a final agreement. Politics surround the issue as well as a history of mismanagement. While there are no clues as to whether there will ever be enough water for the Middle East, it can be stated that the next time one is in Israel, drink lots of water but remember that you’re drinking something more valuable in the Middle East than oil.

A Brief History of Mount Scopus—Cherylanne Glassner

A Brief History of Mount Scopus—Cherylanne Glassner

I believe that it is important to know the history of the land on which you are living. After four weeks here, it was pretty clear that no one really knows anything about Mount Scopus. What follows is a brief history lesson on the mountain we called home for about five weeks of the most memorable experience of our college careers.

The Hebrew name for Mount Scopus is Har Hatzofim. Literally translated, the mountain is named, “Mountain of the Watchers.” Standing at 834 meters above sea level, about 100 meters above the old city, Mount Scopus got its name for the spectacular view. From the top of Mount Scopus, one can see the entire old city, as well as the Judean desert in the east. It has been said that on a clear day it is also possible to see the Dead Sea. In October 1948, Baruch Neumark, the commander of the Israeli forces on Mount Scopus, said “I believe that he who controls this commanding ground will rule Jerusalem.” This was confirmed through the vast military history of the mountain.

Military History

Due to the height of Mount Scopus, the mountain has proven to be incredibly useful in military strategy. Mount Scopus was used as a vantage point for the Roman army during its suppression of the Great Jewish Revolt in 66 CE. In 70CE, it was used by Titus’ Roman legions as a base to carry out its siege of the old city. During this siege, the walls of the Second Temple were breached – this is what Jews remember on 17 Tamuz (usually falls in July). Then in 1099, the Crusaders used Mount Scopus as a base. Mount Scopus was also used as a base for General Allenby’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force during World War I.

Mount Scopus from 1948-1967

Mount Scopus has always been in Israeli hands, however, the circumstances surrounding the mountain have not always been simple. From the year 1948 to 1967, Mount Scopus existed as an Israeli exclave within Jordanian territory. Everything in West Jerusalem was Israeli, and everything in East Jerusalem was Jordanian – except for Mount Scopus. The situation caused many problems, seeing as both the hospital and the university were on Mount Scopus, and access to both was limited.

On July 7, 1948, the Israelis and the Jordanians agreed to the demilitarization of Mount Scopus. There were 6 conditions to this agreement:

1. Area placed under UN protection.

2. Creation of a no-man’s land.

3. Arab and Israeli “armed police” placed on duty in respective areas under UN command.

4. UN to arrange for both parties to receive food and water, visitation, and to limit the population.

5. The area cannot be used as a military base, attacked, or unlawfully entered.

6. If the Arab Legion withdraws from the area, the UN must be notified in writing.

And thus, three areas were created – a Jewish zone, an Arab zone, and a no-man’s land.

Beginning in March of 1949, Israeli and Jordanian representatives entered into peace talks. On April 3, the armistice agreement was signed. The agreement ended the official fighting of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israel and the West Bank, also known as the Green Line, until the 1967 Six-Day War. Another key provision of this agreement was safe movement between Israeli held West Jerusalem and Mount Scopus.

Unfortunately, the principles of the agreement were not put into practice, and travel to Mount Scopus remained difficult. In September of 1949, Moshe Dayan, the Israeli military commander at the time, urged Prime Minister David ben Gurion to sanction a military attack in order to open up a passage to Mount Scopus. Ben Gurion refused, claiming that he did not want to reopen the war. Furthermore, it is important to note that any attack of the kind would have been in violation of the 5th Condition of the 1948 Demilitarization Agreement.

After being moved to Mount Scopus for a larger plot of land in 1947, the Biblical Zoo was again transferred in October 1950 from Mount Scopus to an Israeli area of Jerusalem. This move was done out of concern for the welfare of the animals, who had been traumatized by the gunfire during the 1948 War of Independence. Included in the transfer were one lion, one tiger, two bears, one hyena, three kangaroos, one monkey and several birds.

In July 1952, tentative conditions were proposed for an Arab-Israeli settlement. The proposal called for the recognition by all Arab States of Israel’s and Jordan’s sovereignty over their respective sectors of Jerusalem and a promise of support in the United Nations for a resolution giving such recognition. Also suggested were adjustments to the line of separation. This included Israeli surrender of all claims to Mount Scopus, which would be handed over to Jordan. Not surprisingly, this proposal was not favorably welcomed, and was eventually taken off the table.

The Six-Day War began on June 5, 1967. By the end of the war, Israel had captured East Jerusalem, and the city was reunited under Israeli rule. Once again Israelis could travel freely about Mount Scopus.

Important Landmarks

Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University have been, and remain, the most important Jewish sites on Mount Scopus. The cornerstone for the Hebrew University was laid in July 1918, and the University opened in 1923. Attendees at the inauguration ceremony included General Allenby, Arthur Balfour, Albert Einstein, Herbert Samuel, Chaim Weitzman, and many other dignitaries. In fact, Einstein gave the first academic lecture on his Theory of Relativity. Due to Mount Scopus’ existence as an exclave within Jordanian territory, and the difficulty of accessing the campus, the University was forced to leave. In 1954, the cornerstone for the Givat Ram campus was laid. It was not until 1981 that major university functions returned to Mount Scopus.

The other important landmark is Hadassah Hospital. The Hospital was partially funded by the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the organization from which the hospital gets its name. The cornerstone was laid in 1934, and Hadassah Hospital’s doors were opened in 1939. On April 13, 1948, an armored convoy was ambushed while making its way to the hospital. Seventy-seven doctors, nurses, medical students, and other staff were killed in what became known as the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre. After the Massacre, Hadassah Hospital could no longer function, and the Ein Kerem site was opened in 1961. In 1975, the Mount Scopus hospital was rededicated, and the doors were reopened in 1978.

Also on Mount Scopus is the British military cemetery. The cemetery was a gift from the Jews of Palestine honoring the British soldiers who died in WWI. Buried here are the troops of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force that fought under General Allenby. In the western section, 24 stones are marked with Stars of David for the Jewish soldiers buried here. At the end of the cemetery is a memorial chapel. On the walls on either side of the chapel are the names of soldiers who fell in action and have no known graves. of the cemetery

Just outside the cemetery is a memorial to the Australian forces. It was erected by Commonwealth War Graves Commission for the Australian Government in 1935 in memory of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The AIF was formed in 1914 following Britain’s declaration of war against Germany. The AIF was a purely volunteer force for the duration of the war. During WWI, there were 17,244 troops in Egypt and Palestine. There is also a memorial within the cemetery (next to the chapel) for the troops of the AIF who died fighting and whose graves are unknown.

Situated on the south-eastern part of Mount Scopus, overlooking the Mount of Olives, the Kidron Valley, and the Old City, is the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center. BYU is the largest religious university in the United States, with satellite schools all over the world. The school’s curriculum focuses on Old and New Testament, ancient and modern Near Eastern studies, and language (Hebrew and Arabic). The school is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Plans for construction of the Jerusalem Center were announced in 1979, and a 49 year lease of the land was finally obtained in 1984. However, the construction of the center faced strong opposition from the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) community. The Haredim claimed that the building would be used not as a school, but as a center for Mormon proselytizing efforts in Jerusalem. The opposition stalled the construction, and Knesset investigations took place. Construction was finally allowed to continue in 1986, and the center opened in 1988. During the years of the second intifada, 2001-2006, students were not admitted to the school.

Just behind the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center stands the Augusta Victoria. It was built in 1907 for the German Protestant community, and is named after Empress Augusta Victoria, the wife of German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Augusta Victoria includes the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension, a chapel commemorating the ascension of Jesus Christ. The building was used as a hospital for the British during WWI. It also served as the official residence of the British High Commissioner of the Palestine Mandate from 1920-1927. The Augusta Victoria currently serves as a hospital for the Arab residents of East Jerusalem.


There is so much history in Jerusalem, and Mount Scopus is no different. I hope now, with a deeper understanding of the history of this great mountain, we can all better appreciate where we lived and learned for 5 weeks this summer.