January 2015

Last Sunday began a new week for the Nachshon Project Fellows as we spent a meaningful day in Yafo exploring past and present Israeli identities with our educational guide Jamie Salter. We started at a look-out with a beautiful view of Tel Aviv. Through word association games, the Fellows defined the stereotypes of the city in comparison to Jerusalem and sought to answer a complicated question: is the city of Tel Aviv today a success? In order to answer the question the Fellows examined texts from various Zionist thinkers to determine the goals of the founders of Tel Aviv.


We visited different historical sites and buildings around Tel Aviv-Yafo and examined how they contributed to religious and secular development of Israel. We visited the Shalom Tower to discuss the Jewish identities of early Zionists.  This was followed by a trip to the main cemetery in Tel Aviv where the countries’ most prominent thinkers and leaders are buried.  In this most unusual setting, we explored what many different people envisioned or the first Hebrew city in 3,000 years.  We then went up to the 49th floor of the Azrieli Mall where we got a beautiful view of the coast as the sun set. We ended the night with dinner at Cafe Kapish, a restaurant where all the waiters and waitresses are deaf, and then Na LaGa’at, a show written and performed by people who are blind, or deaf, or both.  The Fellows each got a chance to explore the ideologies of many different people, and were pushed beyond their comfort zones to explore what they believe and why they believe it.


On Monday we welcomed experts on journaling and social media to Shefayim.  BOMAH (Brand of Milk and Honey) presented several sessions where they learned how to use various tools to communicate one’s Israel journey. We wrapped up the night by first eating and then learning how to make your own sushi (no one can work on an empty stomach!).


One of the highlights of the week was the incredible opportunity to visit different start-up companies on Tuesday.  After having just discussed in Book Club The Start Up Nation, Fellows learned from insiders about setting goals and creating effective work plans to achieve those goals. We met the CEO of Snowball, an animation studio, visited Wix, a web page-creating company (you can look for their ad in this year’s Super Bowl), and got a tour and presentation from programmers at Google.  As a follow up we broke down how these companies managed to become successful through passion and innovation, and how the Fellows can use similar work plans to achieve their goals within the Jewish community.


Before concluding on Wednesday, Fellows presented and discussed their goals for the semester.  We processed each part of the Opening Conference, and also looked ahead to the next few days and prepared everyone for the transition to student life at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University.  Fellows reflected that the tools gained from visiting start-up companies and those learned from the journaling experts left everyone with a vision for the rest of the semester.


Nachshon Fellows settled into their new dorm rooms, met new roommates, shopped for those few missing items, and got a chance to relax.  They enjoyed Shabbat, celebrated a couple of Nachshon Fellows’ birthdays, and explored Jerusalem by day and night.  


Fellows will be writing individual blogs reflecting on the Opening Conference and their thoughts over the first few weeks of the semester.  


Also, check out the BIO page to read interesting things about each Fellow.


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