Sunday, July 24, 2016

Date: July 21, 2016
Author: Nicole Smith
Theme: Congress, Day 4

Today was the last day of Congress! In the morning we learned all about the many opportunities in Diller after we finish our fellowship. It was very inspiring and enlightening to know we can continue in such an amazing program. We also talked to past participants and asked them questions and learned about the amazing things they are doing now. 

After lunch, we had a very thought provoking program on our Impact Projects. I p,ersonally, was inspired and got a general idea of what I want to do for my project. I now feel ready and excited to go back home and work on my project. After this we went back to our hotel and got ready for the closing ceremony and party! It was very bittersweet. It was so much fun to dance with all the friends from around I made during congress, but very sad to say goodbye to them. Overall, congress was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Date: July 20, 2016
Author: Arielle Shannon
Theme: Congress, Day 3

After eating a delicious breakfast, made divine by the presence of chocolate milk and coffee, the cohort embarked on a journey to Tel Hai Memorial site, where we were to watch a meaningful presentation and be sorted into our groups for the next part of our day. Each of the tribes was partnered with another, and together we went on seperate buses, every bus to its own unique activity. The tribe in which I was a member went to see a news reporter and a spokesperson, both experts on the issues present in the Golan. They described some of the difficulties faced by reporters, their jobs made more challenging by the rise of social media, forced to balance the importance of confirming the accuracy of information and being the first to publish a report. They also outlined how one can look for different angles in a potential story, and use them to engage people in bringing change. When the hour of lunch began to draw near, we departed on our bus to return to the campus wherein resides the most amazing machine in existence: the hot drinks vending machine. Now, some may dispute this point, asserting that the outputs of this marvelous contraption lack the quality that they desire, however, having personally examined these drinks in great detail, I can attest to the inaccuracy of these accusations. Upon arrival at the campus, we consumed our meals of sandwiches with water and chocolate wafers, accompanied by the heart shaped chunks of ice cream that we called dessert. We were also given the opportunity to interact with members of other cohorts before heading to our next program. We had a total of two programs, that afternoon, the first, a discourse on the relationship between Israel and jews abroad, and the second consisting of "inspiration dates". The "inspiration dates" were meetings with current jewish leaders, where they led discussions on topics they considered relevant. Afterwards, we returned to our hostels for our nightly menu of ma'agal and networking space, before heading off to our rooms for our journey into sleep.

Date: July 19, 2016
Author: Rachel Himmel
Theme: Congress, Day 2

Today was the first full day of Congress and it was full of amazing activities. Once we got to Tel Hai University, our home base, we began our day with Opening Ceremony. Afterwards, we split into our tribes (groups that have 1 fellow from each cohort) and got a tour of the beautiful Tel Hai campus. Before lunch we heard a lecture from Avraham Infeld who gave us an introduction to Jewish Peoplehood. The lecture was both informative and hilarious. People in our cohort have been quoting his words ever since! We then had lunch and afterwards did an activity on Jewish language with our tribes. We saw how Hebrew is different from English in the way that if you change one hebrew word it will not have the same meaning. We also looked at a song called the Hebrewman trying to figure out why most of the song was written in English if it's called the Hebrewman

We returned to our hostel where we had dinner followed by networking time (when we got to talk with the other cohorts that were staying at our hostel). Throughout the day we all met different people from around the world and made strong connections that will last a lifetime. Overall it was a great first full day at Congress!

Date: July 18, 2016
Author: Adina Benia
Theme: Congress, Day 1

Today we finally made our way to Congress!
When we got off the bus we were welcomed by Tzama (Diller's Past Participant logistics team) and other cohorts who were just as excited as we were! Upon arrival, we received more Diller swag - BUCKET HATS!! When all of the cohorts arrived, we were divided into groups called "Tribes". For the next hour and a bit we participated in ice breakers in order to get to know our new friends from around the world! Tribes were lead by a Coordinator from another Diller community, JCs and Tzama leaders. When we got to Kfar Giladi (the sleeping accommodations during Congress), we all got dressed up and made our way to Gan Gomeh were dinner was served and the opening ceremony for Congress began. 

Opening Ceremony gave us a huge opportunity to mingle and meet new friends and reunite with the friends we made at Keness! Overall, today was an amazing transition into congress!

I can't wait for the next few days ahead! Adina

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Date: July 17, 2016
Author: Hartley Gelkopf
Theme: Community Week, Partnership Day B

Today was the last and final day of Community Week. The group responsible for planning today was Partnership B, and as part of Partnership B, it was exciting to see my day come to life.
In the morning, we started off with a visit to a kibbutz called Grofit. This kibbutz is a home to one of the Eilat-Eilot fellows; Itay. This kibbutz specializes in therapeutic horse back riding for individuals with emotional, physical and mental disabilities. It was really meaningful for me to see the work that they do. 

The next stop was to another kibbutz is called Ketura. This kibbutz specializes in renewable energy and the development of third world country aid. It was really fascinating to see the cool projects that go on in this kibbutz. They have methods for farming in the desert, cooking with recyclable energy, keeping cool in the heat, and so many other innovative ideas. This kibbutz taught me to be more appreciative of what I have, and how easy I have it. I now have a deeper appreciation for Israel and other countries that provide technological innovations for clean drinking water worldwide. 

The last stop was to the city of Sderot, which is one of the cities bordering Gaza. This community has been torn apart and put back together. This city is often targeted by the terrorist organization known as Hamas. Most buildings are bomb shelters. For the people on the street when the alarm sounds, there shelters every 20 meters. Since operation Protective Edge, Hamas has not been as active and the threat is not as severe as it once was. Hamas has been acknowledging the cease-fire. One of the most impacting parts of the day was when we met with teens our age that live in Sderot. They shared their stories, experiences, and the reality that they live. They are incredibly normal, which was very unexpected because they live in a "war zone". They live a normal lifestyle. They are prepared for the worst with a positive attitude. We got to ask any questions we wanted, and they were happy to answer. Many people want to physically try and help this community, but really, this community just needs metnal support. They are stronger than any of us could imagine. I'd like to end this blog post by thanking the other members of Partnership B; Nitzan, Itay, and Sarah. This was definitely the best way to end Community Week. -Hartley Gelkopf

Date: Saturday, July 16
Author: Kayla Saul
Theme: Shabbat and Arts/Culture

After a beautiful Friday night dinner and much needed sleep-in, we were all exposed to a unique Shabbat experience- Eilat style! Each pair of fellows chose how they wanted to celebrate Shabbat, making it a meaningful and enjoyable experience for us all! Shaked and I wanted to soak in as much of the Eilat sun as possible, so we spent most of our day on the water. We started off the day on a yacht, overlooking the breathtaking Gulf of Aquaba. We then went to the Rif Raf beach to swim and tan (with SPF 100 sunscreen of course)! Coincidentally, we got slightly sun burned... After a few hours, we returned home to prepare for the "Lehitraot Eilat"/farewell party. With the help of the fellows and staff, we decorated the backyard and set up a spread of classic Israeli foods and drinks! 

After Shabbat ended, the host families and Eilonto fellows were all reunited for the last time at our closing ceremony. We watched a beautiful video that perfectly captured our experience as an Eilonto family, including JCM, community week, etc. After the parents left, we continued to have fun and seize our last night in Eilat- we swam, danced and listened to music!Overall, today was a great way to end a fantastic week! Thank you to everyone for making this a special week!


Monday, July 18, 2016

Date: Friday, July 15
Author: Toni Spilfogel
Theme: Community Week, Environment & Nature

Hey Everyone! Sorry this blog entry took so long to get to you all but I've just been having so much fun on this trip I haven't had the time to write! Friday was Nature Day. We started the day at the Under Water Observatory. We went to the Rare Fish Museum and learned about different fish and other aquatic animals. We learned about symbiotic relationships between different sea creatures. We also went to sea the sea turtles. After we got to see many different types of sharks, fish and sting rays. I think all the Dillers can agree that the best part of the day was the under water observatory itself. We were able to freely observe and learn about the ways of the sea. It was cool be the ones in the tank for once. At lunch Haim and I lead a debrief and talked about the importance of community as well as how special our Diller cohort is. After lunch Max and Amit lead an amazing program about reducing our carbon foot prints. We ended the day at the botanical gardens of Elat. It was amazing to see how vibrant the staff members made the garden. I found it personally inspiring to see how lively something could become with proper nurturing. At the botanical gardens we received the secret letters our parents wrote us prior to the trip. We felt our Toronto community all the way from Elat. We needed the day with a beautiful debriefing program by Tayla and Josh. After that tiring day we were sent home to get ready to spend Shabbat with our host families. It was incredibly meaningful to spend Shabbat with Shai's family. Friday was such an incredible day. I have found a new passion for the environment specifically the sea.
Thanks for reading! Toni