Excited to be chosen for the EDI GSL Experience in Israel

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Laura, Judy, Rivka, Lawrence at a coffee shop

Week 2 with Judy, Rivka, and Steve Adler

Laura and I have been hard at work at the Commission for Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities. Both of us have helped proofread translated laws for the Commission and now we are almost halfway through our research on sheltered workshops for people with disabilities. Laura is researching the United States and the United Kingdom. I am researching Canada and Austria. We are compiling our findings into a written document that will provide an overview of models for sheltered employment for the Commission. These findings will help support the Commission's goal to better regulate and monitor Israel's sheltered workshops for people with disabilities. By reading through hundreds of pages of government documents, webpages, scholarly articles, and research studies, we will hopefully be able to create a comprehensive document by the end of next week that will be able to articulate all of our research.

The HUGE Mediterranean salad that I got when I met Steve Adler

Today Judy from EDI's New York City office took Laura, Rivka (our American-Israeli contact person), and Judge Steve Adler out to a coffee shop/restaurant in the Mamilla Mall (an outdoor mall on the outskirts of Jerusalem's Old City). Steve Adler teaches law at Hebrew University and Israeli labor law at Cornell University. 

It is great that Judy was able to come all the way from the New York City area to spend the week in Jerusalem. Laura and I were so happy when Judy was able to introduce us to Steve Adler--we are looking forward to sitting in on one of his law classes on Sunday. As usual, Rivka went above and beyond and took us to her daughter's home (her daughter's name is Navit) in one of the suburbs of Jerusalem. Laura and I loved the landscape and the feel of the neighborhoods. We were able to exercise, see dogs, and meet teens who were in a community that prepares them for military service. 

Laura and I decided to work out

When we visited the 18 and 19 year olds who were one week away from the mandatory Israeli military service, we were very inspired by what they had to say. Navit reflected on her experiences in the military and her core family and community values. This suburb community outside Jerusalem is very tight knit--people hitchhike and pick up hitchhikers, they share parks, they feed each others' dogs, and they receive visitors with open arms. These 18 and 19 year olds were also able to embody the warm hospitality of this community by giving Laura and me a tour of their "campsite" area. Navit explained to us that from a young age, most parents and schools in Israel try to teach children to have a goal. If you are crying, the question is not "why is the child crying?" but rather, "for what is the child crying for? what is the child's goal?" Instead of dwelling on why certain things happened in the past, the individual is taught to ask himself/herself "what effect is this event supposed to have on my future?" 

The youth learn to respect Israel as a nation and learn that joining the military after graduation is not designed to encourage fighting, it is designed to encourage the preservation of one's community. It is designed to bring people together, not tear them apart. 

I was so set aback by the responsibility and determination that these young men and women displayed. With minimal adult supervision, these people were using their time to learn more about themselves, their country, and their peers in a safe and meaningful way. Remember: they are only in their late teens!

Laura and I were very lucky to have had this experience--I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to Navit for translating for me for at least half an hour.
This is one of the men's living quarters

The women's rooms are on the left, the men's on the right

We have met so many new people and visited so many new places! We have lots of things to tell all of you and so check back for new blog posts from Laura and me. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures:
The New York State license plate would not have been out of the ordinary, if we weren't in Jerusalem!

On Sabbath (Shabbat), King George Street had no open shops, no pedestrians, no cars

The nightly news has a sign language interpreter in the corner of the screen!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Lawrence, thank you so much for this. I really enjoyed reading about what you learned from the Israel people about their culture and philosophies. Very interesting! And I love all the pictures :D, keep them coming! -Erin