This Shabbat, Bogrim explored the topic of Western versus Middle Eastern Culture. Much of the time we focus in our communities on Israel as one culture, instead of looking at a more nuanced view of how diverse the country’s people really are.
Friday evening, after Kabbalat Shabbat, dinner, and singing concluded, Bogrim watched a skit acted by their madrichim (counselors). Looking at stereotypes of Mizrachi (Middle-Eastern) versus Ashkenazi (Western) Jews, the skit explored how many different categories of Jews there are in Israel. They watched as their counselors presented what it’s like to be both an American, and Mizrachi Jew in Israel, or an Israeli living on a Moshav or Kibbutz. In the skit, Bogrim was introduced to the topic they would be discussing the next day.
The following day during Shabbat services, Bogrim heard from Orr Yardeni, a member of the Mishlachat (Israeli staff). In his D’var Torah, Orr spoke about his own experience in Israel interacting with both Middle Eastern and Western culture. Orr really demonstrated his own firsthand experience to Bogrim, who got a bigger picture of what the diversity of Israel is really like.
Sitting on the Kikar (grassy area in the heart of camp) in the afternoon, Bogrim split up into groups to look at articles about various issues in Israel—everything from gay rights, to feminism, to the Masorti movement. They were given general qualities as to which ideals Western Individualist Society and Middle Eastern Collectivist Societies value most. Once they had read through the article excerpts, each group divided into two sides: one taking the Western Cultural perspective, and one taking the Middle Eastern Cultural perspective. They had to take on opinions and values they may not have themselves, learning a great deal over Shabbat about the diversity of Israeli cultural views and ideals.