Sunday, December 17, 2006


I feel as I draw near to Machon, you my dear readers still have absolutely no idea what I am doing. This is perfectly understandable as all descriptions of the program have been incredibly vague, and my idea of talking about one lesson an entry failed miserably, and so today I shall give you a blow by blow account of a typical week of lessons at Machon. But before I do that I just want to talk about a couple of highlights of the week.

On Monday Modi Bar-On a famous Israeli sports anchor and TV personality came to give a talk to us about Israeli Football and Society. The talk was interesting and higly amusing as Modi who had started out as a stand-up comedian was very funny, even though he was not talking in his native tongue. For example when asked the question does Israel have any particualr rivalries with other countries he stated that 'for each country we can find a pogrom.'

On Thursday, in a rather uncharacteristic move I decided to spend a night with a group of friends from the Machon in Tel Aviv. By spend the night I mean spend the entire night as we had booked no accomodation and the entire was to leave Tel Aviv at daybreak. It was a very good if not rather expensive night as we ate in a pretty expensive but delicious restaurant on the waterfront, and we went to a number of bars and clubs as well as just sitting and drinking by the beach. We got back to the Kiriyat at about seven in the morning, and although I tragically woke up around 10 i refused to get out of bed until three.

On Saturday I went with Nick to the Israel Museum, the Israel Museum as one might deduce from the name is the main musuem of Israel. Its exhibits include the Shrine of the Book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, a huge model of Jerusalem in the time of the Second Temple, a sculpture garden and a large museum which included vasts amout of Jewish art as well as contemporary and impressionist art and a lot more besides. There was a huge amount to take in and i probably saw under half of what was on display there. We spent a good half an hour in the sculpture garden, and there is nothing more fun than looking at sculptures with someone who is just as clueless as art as you are. Nick and I concluded that we had no idea most of the time what we were looking at or what the artists were trying to say, and that on the whole they were doodles in 3D.

So my timetable on Machon. I should state before I begin that all lessons last an hour and a half, unless its a double when it is 3 hours. Sunday is the first day of the week and it starts with double Chinuch which is about education, this basically involves how to be a good informal educator on camps. Our teacher is Reg the Noam Mekasheret, and she has some pretty wacky ideas on the subject, which tend to go over my heard. After this is mini-chavurah with Nic, an old Noam movement worker, a time to process the week gone by and a chance to reflect how we have changed over the last week, as you can imagine I am not particualrly good at it. After lunch which lasts from 1-3 there is double Israeli History and Society with Haggai, Haggai is in charge of the timetable and the logistics on the Machon and it would be no exaggeration to say that he knows absolutely everyone in Israel. The lessons involve looking at, as the name suggests, Israeli History and Society. This is frequently done through looking at poetry, music and film and is very interesting, although being at the end of the day it is reasonably easy to drift off in it.

On Monday there are only three lessons the first is Ivrit Tutorial which is... actually I have no idea it used to be doing lots of work sheets and realising just how clueless I was at the subject, although I think it changed to more oral stuff, but as I was not there last week I'm not sure. Next there are electives which I am going to talk about at the end. After that there is Ivrit, which as I stated in a previous blog is my least favourite subject for a number of reasons, including I am dreadful at it, the teaching leads a lot to be desired and I have absolutely no motivation what so ever, in fact most of the time is spent looking at the time. On Monday afternoon's there are no lessons, every other week we go on excursions, these have included the Temple Mount, Har Herzel and Hebron, all which have been talked about in previous blogs. When we have not gone on excursions we have had a free afternoon, which is lovely.

Tuesday starts with double Kehilla which literally means communities, although it is our Jewish History lesson. It is my favourite lesson of the week and I actually do not mind waking up at eight in the morning for it. Our teacher is Steve Israel, and as a fountain of Jewish knowledge pours from his mouth we all scribble down everything he says as fast as possible, I have more notes on Kehilla than I do on all the other subject put together. After Kehilla is Ivrit (more clock staring) and after lunch there is Peer-Led Chadrachah with Reg, which is where we have to put our leadership skills into action and run programs for eachother and then receive feedback on how good/bad/appaling we were.

Wednesday begins with Israel Update, which is basically a run through a week of Israeli news, this is actually not as dull as it might sound, as Israeli news is often very entertaining with things like escaped rapists, constant threat from just about everyone, corrupt politicians, mad strikets and lots more besides. After this is Chavurah which is a chance to do all the administrative business of the week and to occasionally play games. Then guess what we have before lunch, clock-watching. After lunch there are double electives. Electives is as you may have worked out a chance when we can choose what we want to do and then swith half way through the program to something else. In the first half I did Political Activism on Monday's focusing mainly on Student politics, and on Wednesday's I did Modern Jewish World and Creative Leadership, which both did what they said on the tin. Now in the second half of the program I do Jewish Exstentialism on Monday which is just as heavy and confusing as it sounds, and on Wednesday's I do Israel Advocacy which is a highly humorous lesson on public speaking and more importantly how to win a debate defending Israel, and the day finishes off with Senses of the Shoah which looks at the Holocaust through literature and art, yet its pretty heavy stuff.

Thursday is Judaism day where our entire morning is dedicated to Judaism (which means no Ivrit yay!) . It starts with a class on Uniformity and Diversity which is about the nature of Pluralism and Diversity within Judaism. After that we have what is known as the to do section where for half the program you look at a specific aspect of Judaism and hear lots of different views on the subject, in the first part I had Jewish Signs and Symbols and in the second part I did Shabbat. Finally the day concludes with a lesson on the development of prayer in Judaism which is very interesting if not rather confusing at times. This is the last lesson of the week Thursday afternoon is free as is Friday and Saturday, which gives us enough of a break to be ready to start again for another week on Sunday.


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