Critical Minds, Compassionate Hearts

Rashi's 8th Graders Connect with Israelis from Haifa

Deb Berlin, Middle School Science and Math Teacher
Each year, Rashi 8th graders meet 8th grade students from Leo Baeck School in Haifa. They travel together for a week, seeing American sights and exploring their identities as Jewish Americas and Israelis.
I had the opportunity to travel with them to Eisner Camp this year for a two-day, one-night retreat. This part of their trip has the goal of introducing the idea of differences in Jewish identity, as well as bringing them together as a group.
As a teacher who has known most of the 8th graders for many years, I loved seeing them in a different setting from the usual classroom experience. Some students who thrive in a structured classroom setting were pushed out of their comfort zones, and others who fly under the radar in classes were given a chance to shine. Seeing the groups from our two schools cross language and cultural barriers to bond and coalesce into one united group was my favorite part of this experience.
Students generally agreed with me: here are some highlights from some tired students who are sitting near me on the bus as I write this:
Eva, Rashi:
I really liked how we got to get to know the Israelis through bonding activities, and that was sort of one of the points of the retreat, to get to know each other, and I feel like it worked really well.
Kate, Rashi:
I had a lot of fun on the retreat, I feel like I got to know the Israelis really well.
Noga, Leo Baeck:
Playing with snow was the best part.
Daniel R., Rashi:
Students and teachers both engaged in a snowball fight, making it a great time and bonding experience for Israelis, Americans, and chaperones alike. Throughout the experience with Americans and Israelis, it feels like we’ve gotten closer to each other.
Daria, Leo Baeck:
The snow was the best part for me
Leah, Rashi:
It was a bonding experience, and it made everyone closer, and especially since it is our last year, we made memories. We’re never going to forget this, it was so much fun, and it brought us together as a community.
Lizzie, Rashi:
My highlight was having a snowball fight with the Israelis
Or, Leo Baeck:
I loved the free time together, especially in the snow. I loved to sled – I wish I could have done it more.
Daniel S., Rashi:
My highlight was interacting with all of the Israelis and teachers in a less structured setting.