Thursday, May 26, 2016

The free Shabbat was really awesome!  At my house, we had a big Friday night dinner with eight fellows at my house.  We then spent the evening playing some board games and card games.  Then all of the guys went to one house and spent the night together, while some of the girls did the same at another house.  Then during the day on Saturday, since we were keeping Shomer Shabbat, we spent the morning together and rested.  Then in the afternoon, we decided to walk to lake Michigan.  On our way to the lake, we had to walk through Fort Sheridan and it was really fun to show the Israelis the different architecture and the history behind the old fort.  Finally we got to the lake, skipped some rocks on the water, and just had some real human conversation.  I think the best part about the Shabbat was the bonding that came out of it.  Since we (the Americans) don’t normally keep Shomer Shabbat, we found it extremely nice to not have any electricity and especially our phones.  By not having any of these distractions we were able to learn more about each other and just spent time breaking the barriers that we may of had when we first met.  I want to end with a quote that I feel describes the Shabbat and the whole week, “Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.” - Unknown"

-- Ben Zavell
On Friday, one of the last days of JCM, we visited schools. We started the day by going to Rochell Zell Jewish High School. We davened and then ate breakfast. After breakfast, we got to talk to the rabbi at RZJHS about the school and how everything works. The Israelis had time to ask questions about how the school works compared to the schools they had visited Wednesday and compared to their school. When the rabbi left we had an in depth conversation about each person’s time volunteering Thursday and the importance of volunteering and how people may come into these situations. We left the high school and ate lunch at Mizrahi grill. After lunch, we went to Northwestern. At Northwestern, we went to the Hillel there and got a tour of the campus. We then talked about BDS at Northwestern and world wide and its significance for Israelis and american jews. We took the bus home and went to our homes for shabbat. Lidor and I went to stay with Garren and Ariel for shabbat. We also had shabbat dinner with Ben, Tevel, Einav, and Annie. We had a nice dinner at the Zavell’s house and then went back to the Kalter’s to go to sleep.

-- Arie Sztainberg
On Thursday, April 14th, the Israeli Diller teen fellows, along with some Americans, took a couple trips into different neighborhoods of Chicago to experience community service.  The first thing we did was visit The Arch.  We learned about the services The Arch offers to mostly Jewish underprivileged citizens of the Chicago area. We discussed what we thought about the Arch’s services.  Then, we got on a bus and drove to Bronzeville, where the Bright Star Church is located.  There, we met Pastor Harris, who talked to us about his relationship with Israel and the Jewish people.  He also discussed the violence done to black people that takes place in Chicago.  It was extremely impactful to hear what he had to say.  He truly left a large impact on both the Israelis and Americans.  I learned that we must also stand up for Blacks and their rights.  It was a beautiful experience.  After, we visited a modern orthodox temple and learned about their synagogue and community.  Finally, we went to the Uptown Cafe.  It was a cafe where underprivileged people can come dine for free.  We wore aprons and acted like waiters.  It was an awesome experience and it was helpful to the community.  In conclusion, so much was learned on this day by both the Israelis and Americans.  I am very glad I participated in this day.

-- Miriam Berkson

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cohort 3: Workshop 4

Last week, I had the privilege to meet and get to know many amazing people at Gidwitz. I have very little experience with talking to the elderly besides my grandparents, so walking in I was nervous of the impression I would make. We started off stuffing animals for children who might not be receiving gifts this holiday season. As we stuffed and helped each other with our animals, we had conversations with the residents about Hanukkah, Jewish identity, and their lives before living in Gidwitz. One of the women I talked to, Selma, said her favorite part of Hanukkah is lighting the candles and singing prayers each night. It was a time for everyone in her family to come together and focus on each other, rather than other stresses of the day. The best part of our conversation was Selma constantly giggling when she talked about her husband or "hubby", making everyone else at the table smile. Then the fellows left to discuss our experiences with different residents. After about an hour, we went back to the community area and lit the candles of the menorah for the eighth nigh of Hanukkah. My favorite part of the night was singing the Hanukkah prayers and songs with all of my friends from Diller and all of the residents that I had met. 

-Elly Qunell

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cohort 3: Workshop 3

The most recent Diller meeting on November 18 was held at Hannah Silver’s home in Chicago.  We addressed three important topics:
1.  How we would observe Shabbat during our shabbaton
2. How we define our leadership as teens
3. How we would spend our time during our first shabbaton  

The main question we needed to answer was how we would observe Shabbat given the diverse backgrounds of our group. We debated over how many services would be held, and if these services would be mandatory or optional.  It seems not many people in our cohort keep Shabbat in the traditional sense, and while some fellows wanted to try to be more observant, others were in favor of a more relaxed Shabbat observance.  Our discussion about defining leadership kicked off with shared stories about different times we were leaders, both successes and failures.  We split into groups, and discussed the attributes of a leader in ancient Judaism.  Each group then had to advocate for their leader. At the end of our presentations we voted for which leader we thought was the best.  The final activity we did was gathering in our committees to plan for the upcoming shabbaton.

--Sam Weber

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cohort 3: Workshop 1 + Orientation

Excitement filled the Mayer Kaplan JCC, on August 30th, at Cohort 3’s first workshop! I was feeling a bit nervous, but overall really excited! I had been waiting for the first workshop since I found out that I was accepted in July! We kicked off the workshop with the fellows and the parents together, discussing a text that talked about “our names.” We talked about how everyone has different names; what your parents call you, what your friends call you, and what you call yourself. We also discussed how we wanted our names to change over the course of the next 15 months in Diller. My name is Danielle, but by the end of the program I want my name to be Danielle “the leader”.
Next, the fellows left the parents and we went upstairs to do our own programming. Once we all got upstairs, we played a game to learn everyone's names. After that we played “the ice game.” It is where you have to hold onto a piece of ice and you to talk about yourself until the ice melts or it gets too cold. If you wondering the ice was really cold. It was great to get to know everyone in the cohort!
We spent most of the workshop getting to know one another, and started making connections with each other. I am ready to start this one and lifetime program. I am ready to create my Diller family. And I am ready to make a difference.
I would like to end the first blog post with a quote:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

--Danielle Wolff

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cohort 2: Workshop 10

Social action was in the air last Sunday, August 23rd. After a brief whip around about our favorite parts of the Israel trip and a short feedback session about the trip for next year, we finally dove into starting our impact projects!
We were each handed a sticky note and asked to write down an issue that we were passionate about or an issue we felt like went unnoticed in our society. We were given total freedom and were encouraged to be as specific or as vague as we wanted to be. We were then asked to place our notes on the mirror where everyone could see them. We organized the notes into categories based off of the subject matter and the targeted audience. After deliberating the options and of course brainstorming a few more together we emerged from Sam’s house, (the site of the meeting) to the backyard, partially to have space for the next activity but mostly to get away from the cat.
To form our groups we were given a speed dating like template and told to find others with similar causes to our own. By the end of the program we had chosen our groups and started to discuss what we wanted to do to make an impact on our community.
Since we have the Tikkun Olam Shabbaton coming up we started planning some of the programming. We broke up into small groups and assigned individual roles to each member of the group. It was a jammed packed day!!!

-- Elisha Serotta