News From Ramaz
The Upper School has had a meaningful mifgash with students from the Boyar High School in Jerusalem for these past two years, and was able to continue this tradition during Chanukah! This special time spent with the Boyar teens gave Ramaz students the opportunity to dialogue, socialize, and play ball with their Israeli peers. Three senior Hebrew classes met with the twenty-six Israelis (all juniors and seniors) and the theme was timely and relevant. Ms. Dana Barak, Hebrew Language Chair, introduced the discussion of, "American and Israeli Stereotyping: Common Images in the Cultures." The shared conversation was designed to challenge these images, and help to foster new and binding friendships, and it did!
The program began with the short film of the Choir Trip to Israel last February that contrasts the "typical" American teen tour. Cameryn G. spoke honestly about the fears her family had and why they were hesitant to let her go on the trip - "because [she wouldn't] be safe there, there are always hostilities." Their fears were well founded. Camryn's grandparents had to flee their home in Egypt, and find safe haven in France, and those memories are her father's legacy, and in many ways hers too...until the choir's visit!
Cameryn's words best capture her new found sentiment, and speak for the spirit of this meaningful mifgash -especially when she spoke about the choir's mifgash with the Israeli Arab choir in Nazareth:
I cannot find the words that best express to you what I discovered, and how wrong my thoughts were. The bonding between our two groups was almost unbelievable – Jews, namely us, and Israeli Arab teens, walking side by side in the streets of Israel, exchanging only smiles and kind words. The way that the students were speaking to each other, you would've thought they had known each other for years. It was truly an amazing sight. What I'm trying to say, and find it hard to do, is that this past February I learned that there are no serious differences between us.
While cultural differences are definitely a reality, it's something we should use to help unite Americans, Israeli teenagers, and even Israeli-Arab teens. We should not allow stereotyping to dictate how we view others, and we should use our energy instead to help ourselves stay open-minded and not just give into the bias that was instilled in us from as far back as we can remember. Whether that means going on service missions with Ms. Benel, somewhere out of your comfort zone, or just exploring the people in the city around you, you may be surprised with what you find.
Afterwards, Ramaz introduced Nathan H. and Emily A. and asked our Boyar friends to look for Nathan and Emily next year, as they will be joining the IDF as Chayalim Bodedim. Our friends responded with big smiles, and the spirit of camaraderie was palpable. Nathan, accompanied Cameryn on guitar, performed a rousing rendition of Hallelujah, and it took but minutes before everyone, all as ONE, joined together in song.
Later, the excitement spread throughout the school as students from every grade filled the bleachers in the gym, and cheered for both the Ramaz and Boyar teams, during the boys' and girls' varsity games -- and they were played during their lunch periods!
Students received a special thank you note from Haggai Lavie, Boyar's Program Director, and it captures our shared sentiments: Thank you for all your efforts, we hope to continue this beautiful tradition, and strengthen the connection between two of the best schools in America and Israel.