The group received a warm welcome from Mrs. Tali Koren, AIFL Delegations Coordinator and Michal Weiser, their guide. The hospitality and friendship extended to the delegation during at their initial eye opening experience of Shabbat Service at Shir Hadash which was followed a wonderful Shabbat dinner hosted by Rabbi Ian and Rachel Pear. This was merely a precursor to the educational adventure the group had embarked on. They traversed the country’s peaks and valleys visiting Masada and Dead Sea, venturing North to the Druze village of Isfiya for dinner with community leader and AIFL board member, Zeidan Atashi who introduced them to the future leaders of the Druze community and provided great insight into this little known world.
The delegation met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Senior Political Advisor and former Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York Salomon Kofman, Director of the International Law Department Sarah Weiss Ma’udi; Ministry of Education, Dassi Beeri, Head of the Department for Secondary. The delegation learned of the challenges and successes of each segment of Israel’s society within the context of its various educational model. They met with the bold, brave and inspiring Shirin Hafi, the Arab Principal of the Lod School in Jerusalem who fought to uplift a community that resisted her efforts in the worst way. They also heard of the advances made by immigrant children at both the Bialik Rogozin and Reut Pluralistic Schools. As their hearts opened to the experience of all that Israel has to offer they paid respect to the legacy of a medical pioneer and pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Ami Cohen at Save A Child’s Heart which performs pediatric cardiac surgery on children predominantly from third world countries.
A profound sense of the historic and religious significance of the country even in its modernity was felt during their visit to Yad Vashem , the Western Wall and the Via Dolorosa. These holy and notable places underscored to participants the importance of their roles as educators to ensure that our future leaders do not fall prey to the mistakes of the past. The impact of their visit was felt at their farewell dinner at which they shared their personal insights and feedback with each other and members of the AIFL.