Monday, November 30, 2015

Cohort 7 Shabbaton 1

A few weeks ago, we had our first Shabbaton as a cohort. We arrived at the Family Retreat Center Friday afternoon, and after dropping our stuff at at the cabins where we would be staying, we met in the dining area to do some fun icebreakers. We then participated in the Diller White Shabbat, and got to have a really nice Shabbat service with Rabbi Symons. We ate dinner in assigned seats, which worked out really well because it allowed us to talk with everybody else. That evening, we participated in ma’agal lilah, which was like a sharing circle that let us get to know each other . Before going to bed, we all got together in the boys’ bunks to play a great game and bond even more.

The next morning, we woke up and ate breakfast before starting our day with a fun wake-up game. Then we split up into two groups (either Pray-Doh or Discussion with Chris) to do Saturday morning services. We then did a fun activity with the ropes course in the woods before having lunch. After lunch, we had a ruach circle, and then we had some free time, so we all hung out or took a nap. That afternoon, we met up again to do the Jewish Identity Buffet, which really made me explore what my Judaism meant to me and how I saw myself as a Jew. We then did a really nice Havdalah service as a great way to bring Shabbat to a close. After that, we made Identity T-shirts, which continued with our theme of the weekend. There was also an activity with balloons where we gave each other advice for issues that were really personal. Then we did a trust walk and sharing circle, which made us really open up to the other members of our group and bring us closer. We ended the evening with a fun bonfire, and drew names for the Secret Hanukkah Harry for the next meeting.

On Sunday morning, we got to sleep in a little bit before having breakfast and doing one last identity activity, where we thought about what values are most important to us both individually and as a group. We also shared what we liked and didn’t like about this weekend, and how we all feel about the cohort after growing closer. We ate lunch and then did our Tikkun Olam activity, where we made blankets for kids who suffered from some type of disease, and then had a group discussion.

This weekend was incredibly fun, but the activities that we did also made it really thought-provoking. I’m so glad that we all became so much closer, and did a really great job of bonding quickly. I can’t wait until our next meeting to see everyone again and to do our gift exchange!

- Becca Avigad

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Workshop 2 for Cohort 7

Our second Diller workshop was held on October 18, 2015 at the JCC Squirrel Hill. We started off the workshop with our different committees doing presentation. The Ruach committee led a pictionary-like icebreaker, the Israel committee led a group activity/discussion on our opinions on what is happening in Israel, and the swag committee gave us our treats, sour candy and a clementine. 

Then we started talking about the main topic of the workshop- qualities and characteristics of a leader. The most agreed upon characteristic was confidence. After dinner we met with our parents and Rabbi Schiff. He had us rank 10 of the most selected leadership characteristics chosen by business moguls from least to most important. We then discussed the groups' top 3 selected qualities, integrity, good communication skills, and the ability to inspire a shared vision, and why we chose them. We were plesently surprised to find our top 3 picks were the same as the people who compiled the list. 

We then left Rabbi Schiff and the parents, and did a very interesting activity. We had to rank on a scale of 1-10 how developed we were in different important leadership qualities. With this ranking, we were able to see what type of leaders we are right now, and what we need/want to improve on. We ended the night with our circle of gratitude, and said how thankful we all are for the blessings in our lives. 

- Jordan Ennis

Monday, October 19, 2015

The First Day of Cohort 7

Today was the first day of our Diller experience, and the first day of what will be a life-changing process where we explore ourselves and our Jewish identity. Together, as a cohort, we will discuss and share our ideas about what it means to be a leader in the Jewish community. As our first step, we discussed what a community meant to all of us, and also what communities we included ourselves in. 

Another important part of this journey is sharing and putting trust in the other people in the group, so we did some icebreakers to get to know each other a little bit better. We played a couple of games and had some fun learning more about the other teens that we will be spending so much time with. My favorite icebreaker that we did consisted of all of us standing in a circle. A person started with a ball of yarn and they would say three things they were interested in. Anyone who shared at least one of those interests would raise their hand, and then the person with the yarn would toss it to them. The end result was a giant web of yarn that really showed me how connected we all really are. It also made me feel more comfortable with the group, knowing that I could relate to so many of them. 

Towards the end of our first day, we started to talk about the commitment that we were about to make. We talked about the covenant between God and Abraham, and then about agreements or covenants in our lives. We discussed what we expected from an agreement and compared the agreement that we were about to make, with the Brit made between God and Abraham. Overall it was a really great first day, and I’m really looking forward to what is to come!

Adam Moritz

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day two in Tel Aviv

As leader of the day, it was my duty to wake everyone up at 7 AM… which is not a very easy task.  The tired fellows slowly trickled into the breakfast hall like zombies.  After breakfast we all climbed onto the bus still trying to fully wake up.  This day was geared around volunteering and learning about unique areas in Tel Aviv.  At a place called Ramat Gan we jumped off the bus and got ready for the first activity of the day.  In Ramat Gan there is a place where people who are visually impaired or blind can receive economic benefits through work.  We learned about how the Israeli government identifies if someone is visually impaired and how this affects their life.  The Israeli government provides a certificate to an individual that identifies them as visually impaired, which indicates their work status.  We volunteered here by helping these people with their work (constructing electronic devices used in lamps and televisions).  As we worked we conversed with the workers and learned about how life is like for them being visually impaired and how they communicate effectively despite their disability.  

After volunteering, we headed to an interactive museum called Dialogue in the Dark in which we were able to experience life as a blind person.  In this museum we were guided through several rooms in complete darkness; in addition, our tour guide was a blind woman who for her, this was a reality.  In the beginning, everyone was anxious and nervous to lose their sight; however, as we progressed through the museum we began to rely more on our sense of smell, touch, and hearing.  We walked through a forest, log cabin, boat, market, busy street, cafeteria, and a music area.  In each of these rooms we walked around, endeavoring to understand where we were without sight.  After this museum, all the teens had gained a greater sense of appreciation for the ability to see (we also ate pizzaJ).  

Next we went to Jaffa and walked around a market.  Then we headed to South Tel Aviv and learned about the complex situation of the refugees who live there.  We explored the responsibility of Israel to refugees as a Jewish state despite its inability to be a home to so many asylum seekers and migrant workers.  South Tel Aviv is a more impoverished area in comparison to the rest of Tel Aviv and it opened up our eyes to a different lifestyle than we had yet seen in Israel.  

We then walked around the old streets of ancient Yaffo and learned about the history of this land.  Finally we went to dinner after a long day of walking around in the heat on Bugrashov Street.  By the time we got back to the hotel we were all exhausted and ready to pass out.  By learning about modern issues in Israel and seeing how they are dealt with, we were able to gain a different perspective that concerned relevant problems.