Excited to be chosen for the EDI GSL Experience in Israel

Sunday, July 13, 2014

And just like that, it's over!

Our internship officially ended this past Thursday. Jordan and I spent our last week in the Commission working endlessly to put together our research into a presentable and detailed report and presentation. We enjoyed our last week speaking to members of the Commission and wrapping up our 6 week project. On Thursday, we had the pleasure to present our findings to members of the Commission and Israel Elwyn, which went great. We were a bit nostalgic to say goodbye but nonetheless grateful of this amazing opportunity. After our presentation, the Commission was kind enough to present us with a few tokens of appreciation for us to remember our contribution in Israel.

A little gift from the Commission and Israel Elwyn

Now that we are down to our last few days, Jordan and I took it upon ourselves to explore the rest of Jerusalem which we have not seen yet. We visited the Israel Museum which was a great and very insightful trip. We also re-visited the Old City a few more times and its many sacred sights, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which holds the tomb of Jesus. 

A recreated Synagogue from the Israel Museum

The tomb of Jesus

We are down to our last two days and are enjoying every second of this trip before we have to part ways. Soon we will be in America retelling our journey. We are excited to go home and look forward to helping out the students for next year's trip!

Israel, it's been great. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Time Is Flying By!

Our second to last week in Israel has been extremely eventful. Although some of our friends and family have been concerned over recent events happening in the region, Daniel and I feel extremely extremely safe where we are living and working. 
This week we concluded our work at Elwyn in Jerusalem. We had the opportunity to visit the Knesset and Hadassah Hospital to see supported employment programs. I was very impressed with the program at the Knesset because the people with disabilities were considered full employees of the Knesset and most had been there for an extended period of time. At the end of our time at Elwyn, we had the opportunity to learn more about their LAHAV program which works to transition people from sheltered employment to supported employment. We were unable to find many programs like it but thought it was a great program and look forward to see how it develops in the future. On Wednesday, we returned to the Commission. Everyone was excited that we were back and was curious as to what we had been doing for the past week and a half!
This week we also had an opportunity to spend time with Rivka! She took us to see another beautiful overlook of Jerusalem and an old Windmill. We are always finding new places in Jerusalem that we did not know existed. On Friday, Daniel and I visited Mt. Hertzl, a war cemetery and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. Both of these places are extremely beautiful but extremely sad.
We have a little over one week left and quite a bit of work to accomplish and many sites left to see!

Hertzl's Tomb

Mt. Hertzl Cemetery 

A statue At Yad Vashem

A Great Overlook of Jerusalem! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Week 4

This week Jordan and I began working with Elwyn, a non-profit organization that promotes the equality and rights of people with disabilities. We visited their main facility in Jerusalem and were introduced to the host of services they provide which include employment rehabilitation, employment placement, supported living arrangements, among others. We had the privilege of witnessing first-hand the employment system that Elwyn uses to eventually help individuals with disabilities enter the competitive labor market. We started off in the main facility in which individuals with disabilities work in a semi-sheltered environment doing manufacturing work. We then traveled to the city of Haifa where we got to see supported employment in action in various settings. Some of the jobs were located in a retirement home, in a nursery, in a vintage shop, in a nature preserve, in a supermarket, among others. In these sites, individuals with disabilities worked in the community with a job coach that helped them on their path to self-sufficiency and eventually competitive employment.

Supported Employment Site: Two individuals with disabilities helped out with several tasks in a nursery. 

Supported Employment Site: Three individuals with disabilities worked around in a nature preserve. 

The staff at Elwyn also shared anecdotes of several individuals with disabilities that started off in sheltered employment and are now working entirely on their own within the community.

In our visit to Haifa, we also got to explore the city's culture. We had lunch with Elwyn staff members at a local family restaurant in a Druze neighborhood. We were able to learn a bit about the Druze religion and even got to wear some traditional Druze clothing!

We learned a lot this past week and are excited to continue working with Elwyn this upcoming week! 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dead Sea and Masada Pictures!

Daniel and I wanted to share a few pictures from our trip to Masada and the Dead Sea!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Week 3- Research and Dancing!

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to share my final report with Dafna from the Ministry of Economy. My report included incentives and programs that different countries are using to encourage employers to hire people with disabilities. Through this research, I realized that many countries are using similar practices and that there is little innovation.
After I presented my report, Daniel and I started our second project. Our second project is for both Elwyn and the Commission. For this project we are exploring global practices on transitioning out of sheltered employment into supported employment. For the first week of this project we researched transitional programs in Germany, Tennessee, New Zealand, and the Czech Republic. We are excited to compare these programs to those that Elwyn offers.
This past week we also had the opportunity to spend time with Judy! We went to a craft fair and had a delicious dinner! Judy also provided us with support on our projects.
On Tuesday night Rivka took us to see a dance performance done by people in wheelchairs as a part of the Jerusalem Festival for Disabled Artist. It was incredible and unlike anything that we had ever experienced.

Daniel and I will be traveling to Masada and the Dead Sea tomorrow and then Haifa on Sunday to explore sheltered workshops.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

And that wraps up Week 2!

Our second week in Israel was off to a great start as we spent the weekend enjoying ourselves in Tel Aviv. We visited the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv, explored the city of Old Jaffa, and got a nice change of scenery. Despite being a bit warmer up in Tel Aviv, we spent a wonderful weekend with bright lights, tall skyscrapers, cool waters, and busy intersections.
We returned to Jerusalem excited to begin our first complete week of work. Jordan worked on a project researching incentives for companies to employ people with disabilities across different countries while I helped the Commission for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities properly translate lots of disability legislation into proper English. 

Throughout our busy week we were able to attend different events and continue exploring Jerusalem. We attended a music concert at the Israel American Center, we joined Rivka and Judge Adler (the Cornell liaisons) for lunch and dinner, and further explored the Old City during the annual Festival of Lights where most of the city is adorned with beautiful light exhibits. 
We are not gearing up for our third week of work where we will both begin new projects in conjunction with Elwyn, a non-profit organization that advocates disability rights. We are also getting ready to experience warmer temperatures and survive the heat! Our third week of adventures awaits us!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Week 1 In Jerusalem!

         Daniel and I arrived safely in Israel on Saturday afternoon. After settling into Allenby, our home for the next six weeks, we headed over to Ben Yehuda Street to meet up with a Taglit-Birthright group from Cornell! 
Daniel and I met up with Rabbi Scott, Cornell Hillel's Reform Rabbi, and Alyssa Kirsch on Ben Yehuda Street!

Daniel found a "Cornell" Celebrity: Sarah Balik (The President of Student Assembly)

         Daniel and I met Rivka, the Cornell Liaison in Israel on Sunday. Rivka drove us around Jerusalem and showed us a lookout where we could see the city! Afterwards Rivka took us to Old City where we walked around and had an incredible dinner. 
Our first trip to the Wall!
Daniel and I in front of an overlook of Jerusalem! 

         On Monday we had our orientation for our internship at the Commission for Equal Rights For Persons with Disabilities and the Ministry of Economy. Our supervisors Dafna from the Ministry of Economy and Gaby, from the Commission for Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities were extremely helpful and welcoming. They introduced us to the projects that we will be working on for the next six weeks. After our orientation, Daniel and I had lunch and began to prepare for Shavout because all of Jerusalem would be closed for the holiday. 
         During Shavout, Daniel and I continued to explore the Old City. While in the Old City, we visited the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock. We also explored many of the shops in the outdoor market, also known as the Souk, before the holiday began. The holiday was an excellent opportunity for us to overcome our jet lag and to prepare for our first day of work!  

The Dome of the Rock!

         Daniel and I have started working on our first set of projects at the Commission. We are currently working on researching global approaches to to incentives for employing people with disabilities and Daniel is working on correcting English translations for the Commission’s website! 
My favorite Israeli dish, Shawarma. (I've had it every day since we have been here!)
         We are excited to head to Tel Aviv for Shabbat and then to come back and continue our work at the Commission!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hi Everyone! 
My name is Jordan Berger and I will be traveling to Israel with Daniel Muniz-Garcia. We are both majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. Daniel and I are getting excited for our upcoming trip to Israel. We will be arriving in Israel on May 31 and beginning our work on June 2 at the Israeli Commission for Equal Rights For Persons with Disabilities, Elwyn, and the Ministry of Trade. We hope that you will follow our blog!