Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Israeli President Rivlin’s Message on Independence Day

11 May

May 10th, 2016

In honor of the upcoming national days, President Reuven Rivlin sent an Independence Day message to Jewish communities and friends of Israel around the world.


In his message – which can be viewed here – President Rivlin spoke of his memories as a nine year old child, seeing the flag of Israel raised for the first time as the flag of an independent, sovereign state, he said, “Today, each time I see the flag flying, it fills my heart with pride and joy. As Israel turns 68, we can look with pride, at our past, and must look to the future with hope. The State of Israel was born out of a hope of 2000 years. It was born with the bravery of dreamers who worked to turn their dream into reality. Their spirit stays with us today. In the past year, I have visited many different places across this wonderful country, I have seen this spirit, this joy and pride, which still pushes us forward.”


The President spoke of the terrible price of terrorism and said, “Sadly, over the last year Israel has faced a wave of terrible terror attacks which has brought much pain, and left many painful scars. I sat in the houses, of the families who lost loved ones, soldiers and civilians, I felt their pain, and shared in their tears.” He stressed, “Terror will not overcome us, even though it may take a terrible price.” 


The President highlighted the importance of celebrating diversity in Israel’s democracy, “Real independence, means the freedom of expression, to celebrate and enjoy the diversity of voices of all the people in Israel, as different as they may be; whether we agree with them or not. An inclusive nation, which knows to debate and discuss with respect and understanding.”


The President concluded, “Our Independence Day is a day to celebrate. It is a day to lift the flag high in the knowledge that our hope will lead us to find the way to overcome the challenges, and to spread a message of understanding and respect between one another. And while around our borders, and even inside our borders, blow the terrible winds of radical Islam, we are sure of our path and of our ability and right to build here our national home, with security and prosperity.”


Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee condemns murder of Arab youth

2 Jul

jerusalem-palestinian-terror-fire-protest-violenceThe Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee condemns the murder of an Arab youth whose body was found in Jerusalem today. “Such incidents must not be tolerated and the perpetrators must be pursued and apprehended. We are confident that Israel, a country where the rule of law prevails, will pursue this case aggressively and that justice will be done – no matter who committed the crime,” said Howard Tevlowitz, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for law enforcement to work as quickly as possible to find the perpetrators and motives behind the “reprehensible” murder of an Arab youth whose body was found today in Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem Post. According to the New York Times, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, condemned the killing of the teenager in a statement. “This is a horrible and barbaric act which I strongly condemn,” he said. “This is not our way and I am fully confident that our security forces will bring the perpetrators to justice. I call on everyone to exercise restraint.”

Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of one of the three slain Israeli teenagers, told Ynet, a news site, “There is no difference between blood and blood.” He was quoted as saying, “Murder is murder…Whatever the nationality or age are, there is no justification, no forgiveness or penance for any murder.”



Jerusalem Post: Hundreds of Arabs riot across Jerusalem after Palestinian teen found murdered

New York Times: Possible Revenge Killing Adds to Tension in Israel

Ynet: Abbas: Netanyahu must condemn boy’s death like we condemned kidnapping

Young Ambassadors Update: Day 9

22 Jun

From markets to holy sites, our day on Friday was, for lack of a better word, intense. Starting by parting ways with our newfound friends from the host families, we travelled to an artists’ market and saw many different art forms, such as glassblowing and woodcarving. The connecting market, which sold more tourist-y trinkets and such, was a perfect place to practice our haggling abilities.

From there, we travelled to a shuk in Jerusalem, Machane Yehuda. Upon arriving at the shuk, we were each given a name to do a “Secret Santa” exchange later that night. Imagine a massively packed market, and it still doesn’t hold a flame to the nature and size of the market in Jerusalem.

Later that day, we went to the holiest sight in Israel: the Western Wall. We encountered something that none of us had expected, which was a group of Birthright kids singing and dancing everywhere. Some of us had experiences that we had never had before, while some did not feel much at all. Without our bus to return to the hotel, we walked from the Wall back to the hotel. It’s truly amazing what an opportunity all of us were given and even more amazing how much we have come to care about and count on each other. Walking back, we all just had fun being in each other’s company.

Sam W. Is a participant on the Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.


Young Ambassadors Update: Day 8

21 Jun

Yesterday was an amazing day filled with several lessons that I will never forget. Rachel and I started the day with our host families. They greeted us with smiles and a cheery ‘Boker tov.” The girl who was Rachel’s age, named Yuval, along with the rest of her family spoke very basic English. Communication was difficult but they taught me Hebrew and we taught them some more English. For breakfast, or Aruchat Boker as I have come to learn, we had Kariot (chocolate filled cereal; the word Kariot translates to pillows). After breakfast, we met the rest of the Young Ambassadors and some of the Israeli teens at their Youth Center. We all boarded the bus and made our way to Jerusalem.

Our first stop was Shalva. In the morning it functions as a daycare for children with special needs, and after school it shifts gears to accommodate people as old as 21. As we entered the building, I immediately noticed the sudden surge of happiness. The main room is decorated with bright colors and Disney characters that make the environment extremely welcoming After listening to a brief introduction on some of the life changing experiences they offer to families, we began the tour. (Fun fact: Shalva is 25% funded by the government and 75% funded by donations. Families that send their children to Shalva don’t pay a dime.) We began the tour by looking in on a therapy room. This room looks like a plush wonderland full of water-beds and sensory tables. There was a child in the room when we viewed it and, I have to be honest, I have never seen a child so relaxed. After viewing the therapy room we saw the playground and remaining facilities; we then moved on to my favorite part of the morning, playing with the babies.

When we walked into the playroom, I sat down next to a little girl who was by herself. I said “shalom” with a smile on my face and expected little to no response due to the age of these children (most of them were about 2). I was extremely surprised when the little girl jumped up and gave me a huge hug. She then grabbed my thumb with her hand and shook it furiously. Besides the clear excitement that was instilled in a majority of the children, this particular little girl never stopped smiling. After about 5 minutes of playing with me, she decided that it was time to branch out and go meet other people; one of the Israeli girls, Rotem, later told me of how this little girl went up to her and shook her hand. After about another 5 minutes of walking around, I stumbled across a little girl with glasses. Her name is Tehilah. I sat down next to Tehilah and extended my hand. I was greeted with a giant hug which was followed by her stroking my hair. I then stood up and asked her if she wanted to dance; I held out my arms and she motioned for me to pick her up. The moment I had her in my arms, the biggest smile appeared on her face. I began twirling her around and singing a strange made up song that she loved. 10 minutes passed and I did not want to leave. I put Tehilah on the ground and gave her a giant hug. She then gave me a kiss on the cheek and I almost started crying. One of the Israeli girls names Sivaan said something that stuck with me, “it doesn’t matter what language they speak or if they are disabled or normal, if you give them love that’s all that matters.”


Soon after leaving my new favorite person (Tehilah), we moved on to meet Yossi Samuels, the reason Shalva was started. Yossi was born a perfectly healthy baby boy and his parents could not have been happier. However, due to a batch of defective vaccines, Yossi became deaf, blind and hyperactive. Apart from not being able to see or hear anyone, he is an extraordinary man. He communicates by having his aid, Alesha, signs into his hand using Hebrew sign language. Adam got to shake Yossi’s hand and by doing that he began a conversation. They spoke about cars and iPhones for about 5 minutes. Yossi then told us how much he loves his job as a wine taster and informed us of his favorite wine, Shiraz. After meeting Yossi, all of us boarded the bus and made our way to the second destination of the day: Hand-in-Hand.

Hand-in-Hand is one of those amazing things that until you see it, you don’t think it is real. Hand-in-Hand is a school going from pre-school to 12th grade that has both Arab and Israeli students of all faiths (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.) I did not think that a school like this would function so smoothly. The school teaches the students Arabic and Hebrew, has all of the signs in both languages and also has several posters promoting peace and acceptance. All of us, including the Israelis, were given the opportunity to speak to 3 freshmen and ask them questions. One of the main questions was if the tolerance continued after they left school and they told us the honest to god truth: no. There have been situations where the kids have been on public transportation and they have been spit on or yelled at because they speak Hebrew or Arabic to each other. However, the amazing parents involved with this school have taken strong action against these acts of hatred. After speaking with the teenagers, we got to go see a kindergarten class. It surprised and amazed me at the amount of tolerance displayed in this classroom. There were posters in both languages around the room, and a tree of acceptance. The olive tree depicted in this room had different religious symbols. I love the amount of tolerance taught in this school and I think it should be taught in schools in America.

After leaving Hand-in-Hand, we all went to the JCCA for lunch. Lunch was either shawarma, schnitzel, or cold cuts. I has schnitzel and it was DELICIOUS. After we ate, we were instructed to put our chairs in a circle and get comfortable. A man from an organization called ‘Ir Amim’ which translates to “city of nations,” came to speak to us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically concerning Jerusalem. After the 2 hour lecture, we got on the bus and drove to see the security wall. The security wall made every Israeli-Palestinian discussion real. The moment I saw Palestine on the other side, I realized just how real this entire situation really is.

Immediately following seeing the wall, we got on the bus and headed back to our host families. That night, all of the Young Ambassadors and Israelis decided to go to the movies. The movie theatre was in a mall-type-thing and it was amazing. The floor had lights and there was chocolate everywhere! There was also a fish-pedicure place. Julie got a fish pedicure and said it was totally worth the 30 shekels.

Jamie M. is a participant on the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.

Day 14: From One Home to Another

27 Jun

1016517_10151539988628892_2128282068_nRising early on our last day in Israel, the group groggily enjoyed their last Middle Eastern breakfast before loading the bus and promptly falling back asleep on the bus ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Reaching the capital city, the group departed at the headquarters of the Israeli branch of the Anti-Defamation League. As one of the main organizations in the fight against anti-semitism, their director of education was happy to share her time and information with the group. Following a presentation of the forms on which anti-semitism takes today, the Young Ambassadors engaged in a group discussion of the prejudice we face in Sarasota, and how we can combat this issue. Young Ambassador Allie Campbell had the following to add about our time at the ADL:

“Going to the ADL and listening to what people have experienced shows how important it is to stop the breeding of hate in the world. Looking at the cartoons and knowing that this occurs more than it should proves that tolerance of all cultures, religions, and people should be respected.” (Allie Campbell)

Thanking the ADL for their time, we departed for Jerusalem’s holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Thanks to our knowledgeable museum guide and the vastness of the galleries, hours were spent amongst the archives. While tears welled in many eyes, and others silently proceeded through the halls, every Young Ambassador payed tribute in their own way to the six million. Exiting one era of solemnity and entering into another, we hiked the connecting path from Yad Vashem up to the top of Mt. Herzl, home to Israel’s largest national cemetery. From seeing the tomb of the father of modern Zionism and namesake, Theodore Herzl, to the grave of deceased American IDF soldier, Michael Levine, the group witnessed the stark reminders that Israel’s presence has not been an innocent one. Rather, the land with which we have all fallen in love over the past two weeks owes respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for it and its occupants. After having time to honor those we wished to on our own,  the group found itself at a location it had been twice before on this trip. Ending our time in the Holy Land was a farewell visit to the holiest of holies, the Western Wall. Some wrapping tefillin, others still awestruck by the grandeur of thousands of years if Judiasm expressed by seventy meters of Jerusalem stone, it did not matter. What was important were the final prayers and connections each of us shared with this revered site. Departing, the group traveled to a small park on the streets of Jerusalem to engage in what would be our last formal discussion of the mission. After a short summation of the the past days, we settled for one last celebratory meal in an Israeli Grill House. Filling ourselves with enough shwarma, pita, and hummus to last each of us until our next return to the land of milk and honey, we enjoyed one last meal halted only by the wise words of the tour organizer, who made a special point to join us for this final goodbye. Arriving at the airport, we bid adieu to our beloved chauffeur, tour guide, guard, and of course, to Len and Brittney, who would not be venturing back to the States just yet. With the bustling of the city of Tel Aviv at our backs, the 2013 Young Ambassadors jostled through one last Israeli crowd into the airport. For many of us, one could realize, this was not goodbye to Israel. Rather, it was, “until next time” to a lifelong friend.

–Jake Hurwitz, Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors 2013
Update: Having completed this submission and the first airline meal of the flight simultaneously, I can confidently confirm that we are all very much missing the shwarma, pita, and hummus already.

Day 4: Touching Our History

16 Jun

image Today we went to an archaeological dig. It was really awesome because we got to learn about what the archaeologists do and look for. Then we did our own sorting and found some really cool things! We had lunch in a shopping plaza and had some free time to shop. Next, we went to see the Kotel tunnels and we looked at what King Herod had constructed and we got to touch thousands of years of history. After that we visited the western wall and then got back on the bus. We drove to Sataf Springs which is one of the many hills surrounding Jerusalem. We hiked down the hill and stopped at two springs where we got to adventure inside of two caves! I had so much fun today!

-Brittney Mintz, Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors 2013

Day 2: Jerusalem If I Forget You

15 Jun

imageToday we went to the Old City of Jerusalem. Our first stop was the city of David and we viewed his tomb. From there it was a short walk to ancient water tunnels that run underneath the city. The tunnel was very narrow and was filled with running water up to our ankles and at times our waist. Afterwards, we took the bus to the Shuk and split up into groups of three and explored for two hours what it is like to shop before Shabbat. We tasted many different foreign foods, mostly falafel. We walked back to the hotel from there and had time to rest before Shabbat began. We went to the Kotel (The Wall) which was such a powerful experience. It was amazing how many people were gathered there and the energy given off made it even more meaningful. We walked back to the hotel through empty streets with other Jews who were on their way to Shabbat dinners just like us. It was a long and exhausting day but extremely rewarding.
By: Sydney Ralph – Bob Malkin Young Ambassador