Yom Israel (Israel Day)

Yom Israel (Israel Day) is a full day that we devote to learning about Israel, its people, culture, geography, and tons of other aspects of the society.  Often Yom Israel has a theme, and this year it was themed as a retracing of the life of a young Israeli man, Aaron, played by madatz Aaron Meyer.  During Yom Israel, the machane (camp) went through many different key parts of Aaron’s life in Israel.

The first part of Aaron’s life that we reenacted was when Aaron was a toddler/baby and just learning Hebrew and some simple Hebrew songs.  We learned words like שלום (shalom, hello, goodbye, and peace), מים (mayim, water), שוקולד (chocolad, chocolate).  We also learned songs like Zodiac, and Ani Ohev Chocolad (I love Chocolate).

Next, was elementary school age.  Using a round-robin of several different stations, the chanichim (campers) learned about all sorts of different things about Israel and its history. Chancihim learned about the tent protests that swept through Israel, the divisions that exist with in the peoples of Jerusalem, the UN vote to make Israel a state, how educations live, and what it means to be a chalutz (pioneer).

The next part of day took place at the brecha (pool).  Chanchim (campers) could swim, and also participate in tons of fun activities.  These included “Tubing down the Jordan River” (floating on the pool in tubes), drinking Shoko B’Sakit (famous Israeli chocolate milk in a bag), listening to modern Israeli music, and playing matkot (a popular Israeli beach game that is similar to beach tennis).  After graduating from elementary school, the chanichim participated in a carnival activity with different stations relating to Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah!  There was learning how to make cheesy toasts,  learning how to throw candy at the Bar Mitzvah boy, playing Torah games, practicing your photography skills to be the photographer at the Bar Mitzvah, and taste testing the food for the buffet!

The next part of the day was the afternoon snack, where the chanchim pretended they were in a traditional Jerusalem shuk and were being hassled to pick either and apple or an orange!  After snack we moved forward in Aaron’s life to when he joined his youth movement. To experience this part of his life, madrichim and madatzim ran special chugim (interest groups) about topics that youth movements might discuss.  These ranged from how to criticize Israel constructively, to dispelling inaccurate notions about Arabs.

The final part of the day was reliving Aaron’s final exams in high school.  The chanchim, once grouped into teams, were entered into a game show!  The game show tested how much they learned during Yom Israel (they all learned a TON).  After we won all the challenges and won the game show, we had a mesibah (party)!


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