Friends from Israel

Grace Dearing ’17

On Friday December 4th, Mercy students were given a taste of what it is like to be an Israeli teen. Two Israeli teens, Ben and Ido, are currently involved in an organization called Chaverim m’Isarel, meaning Friends from Israel. Ben and Ido are taking a year to travel and inform teens at schools, like Mercy, what it is like to grow up in Israel.

Ben and Ido started their presentation by speaking fluent Hebrew. Needless to say, all of us Mercy girls were thoroughly confused. They knew we didn’t understand Hebrew, but they started their presentation like that anyway to give us some insight on the language. Ben and Ido explained that Israel is a Jewish democracy, so most people speak Hebrew. Through this presentation, they wanted us to understand that Israel isn’t as ancient as some of us were led to believe. In fact, Israel is a very young, very modern country and we have Israelis to thank for technology that we are so dependent on. Things like instant message and the Waze app were invented in Israel. Even the flashdrive that I’m using to save this article on is a product of Israel’s greatest inventors.

Israel is much more than just inventions, though. Most Israeli teens live lives very similar to the lives that we live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ben loves to play basketball back home in Israel and both he and Ido are involved in Scouts, which is very similar to Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts in America. When they want to hang out with their friends, Ben and Ido make the short walk from their houses to the beach for parties frequently. (Okay, maybe that part isn’t so similar to Cincinnati, considering the closest thing we have to a beach is the Ohio River.) However, the bottom line is the fact that Israeli teens go to parties and play sports and hang out with their friends the same way we do in Ohio. Our social worlds really aren’t that different.

One thing about Israel that is very different from life in America is the IDF. The IDF (Israel Defence Force) is the next step for Israeli teens after high school. The boys join the mandatory service for three years and the girls join for two years. After that, they are free to go to college or live their lives however they choose.

Once the presentation was finished, we all gathered in a circle to learn a traditional Israeli dance. The dance consisted of holding hands with the people next to you and moving in a circle. When the song said to, everyone would kneel to the ground and then stand up. Then, you would hold hands with the people two people over from you and repeat these actions. It was a pretty easy until we ended up having to hold hands with people five away from us. That’s when things started to get difficult, but overall it was a fun experience.

After dancing, Mr. Bonnici’s B2 class was split into three groups. One group was taken into the hallway to make hummus, the same way people in Israel would, gaining an actual taste of Israel (bad pun intended). After making hummus, the groups would rotate and see either Ben or Ido. Ben’s group had a short Q&A about Israel and life as an Israeli teen. Ido’s group played a riveting dreidel game with M&Ms.

Chaverim m’Israel was a really great experience and, despite having seen the presentation two times before, I really learned a lot. This is definitely one thing that the religion department needs to keep doing for years, I loved everything about it.

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