May 23rd Daily Activities

25 May

Our third day in Jerusalem began with class taught by Professor Nirit Topol at Hadassah College. Given, we had walked together twice to the college it was decided today would be an appropriate day to begin navigating the city on our own, and thus we were encouraged to walk without Professor Lefkovitz or Elan. Everyone arrived the college without any problems, and as a result our sense of direction and independence in the city is slowly developing.
Professor Topol’s class began on the idea of what it means to create and build a nation. The majority of the class recognized a shared history, language, ethnicity, values, religion and music and the arts as some of the essential building blocks for the formation of a nation. On this premise alone it was agreed that Jews should indeed have their own nation. Another major focus was the concept of security and how the state of Israel is constantly haunted by the threat of existential extinction, because of its volatile nature. After four hours of class we briefly broke for lunch before heading to the Israel Museum at 2 o’clock.
Some of us decided to meet P. Lefkovitz and Elan and go as a group, whereas other opted to find our own way to the museum. Although a small portion of us decided to walk to the Israel Musuem ourselves we did not all go together. Consequently, a few had trouble finding the museum, however with P. Lefkovitz’s directions via the telephone everyone made it safely. At the end of the day you have to contribute these small blunders as a necessity to more fully understanding the city. City View from Israel Museum
The Israel Museum spoke much to what Professor Topol had discussed in class. Because one of the criteria for creating and further building a nation was the access to fine arts the Israel Museum was more than just a museum; it contributed to the representation of the Jewish people as a population worthy of statehood. Furthermore the museum fostered a sense of Israeli pride. As the 16th century Italian artist demonstrated in this depiction of Israel, the state is composed of European, Asian and African culture, and as such holds much more importance to have cultural aspects for which the Israeli people can call their own. In sum, it could be said that the Israel Museum not only holds physical importance to the people of Israel, but an emotional significant as well.
Aside from the symbolic nature of the museum the art inside reflected much of the Jewish history that Elan spoke about during day two, in regards to the Old and New Jew. One of the first photographs seen showed a muscular Jewish solider shirtless and flexing. The New Jew In my own personal analysis I saw this piece of art as an example of the New Jew, because not only does it express strength but also a bit of homoeroticism – denoting to the loss of religious values. In contrast, some of the works of art were more influenced by the concept of the Old Jew. One painting in particular struck me as reflecting the characteristics of the Old Jew. In the painting of a Romanian Jew the man wore a sun-worn face, sunken cheeks, and whose eyes mirrored defeat and loss, all of which exemplified the weakness of the Old Jew.The Old Jew
As the tour began to come to a close we were given the option to explore the museum further or to go home before our meeting with the students from Hadassah College at 8:30pm. The group split approximately into two with half the group staying and the others returning home. Around 6:15 some of the group traveled to Emerk Rafaim Street to eat dinner before the meeting, whereas others choose to stay behind and meet us at the Cultural Community Center, where the meeting was to be held.
The meeting with the five Israeli students was rather informal, but yet informative nonetheless. Initially we split into groups of four: to consist of three Northeastern students and one Hadassah College student. Each student was permitted to ask one question to either the American or Israel students. It appeared the many of the Israeli students were curious to know how the American’s perceived Israel before and after visiting the country whereas the American students seems much more interested in how the Israel students viewed themselves personally and as nation.
Elan then prompted us with various questions regarding our daily lives, where it was discovered that both Israeli and American student have many of the same struggles. While of course the American students life’s did not contain a fear of security to the extent of the Israeli’s we did share many of the same issues of young adulthood. As one Israeli student put it, “we both worry with making decisions about school, careers, finding an apartment and making money to support ourselves.” From this standpoint it was very enlightening to see that although initially we are perceived to be very different from other another, because of cultural differences, the foundations of what it means to be a young adult is consistent across seemingly incomparable countries.
The next event on the schedule was to attend the Israel Festival where various musicians would be playing. Upon arrival many were surprised to hear American folk music beginning sang. It was the assumption of the group that Israeli music would be hear at the festival. Given the lack of cultural understanding the Israel Festival offered the group decided to respectfully decline further participation at this event. Instead it as unanimously agreed that we would spend the night relaxing as a group and soaking in all that we have learned thus far.

– Ariana Evans


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