Israel Simulation: Learning from Yossi Klein Halevi’s “Like Dreamers”

DSC_5599Our Wednesday schedule is Yom Meyuchad, a special day in which each aidah focuses on a theme. Yesterday morning, Machon and some members of Tikvah were split up into groups and dressed up as a character—an actual person during the Six Day War—that they would spend the day learning about. The day was designed by a group of counselors with the guidance of Israel Educator Carl Schrag. Drawing from Yossi Klein Halevi’s novel, Like Dreamers, the seven groups were supposed to be one of the paratroopers that fought in the war: Avital Geva, Yoel Bin-Nun, Udi Adiv, Meir Ariel, Hanan Porat, Yisrael Harel, and Arik Achmon. These characters were casted as either Kibbutzniks or Settlers, based upon their larger ideologies. Embodying their character for the day, the campers learned about their traits, actions, and ideals, in order to understand a more complex and nuanced view of opinions in a post-1967 War state.

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After the groups learned about their individual characters, they came together to teach each other about their figures. Some groups made skits, others made art that they described to the group, and still others created a newspaper. Learning in these different mediums, campers learned that each of these diverse figures had their own distinct qualities.

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On the kikar after lunch, our settlers created their own settlements. Three of the groups constructed forts and settlements using what they had in their surroundings: benches, sleeping bags, garbage cans, recycling bins, and even flower pots. They made their own homes on the kikar, settling the land of Israel. As they sang songs like “Ya’aseh Shalom” and “Dodi Li,” Director Jacob Cytryn came over and acted in telling the settlers that they needed to shrink their settlements. The settlers protested, singing longer and louder.

L1000146Across camp, the Kibbutzniks had their very own Kibbutz Seder. They sang songs, learned about the parts of the Seder, and spent time eating matzah and drinking grape juice. Though each of the groups (and each of the paratroopers they were embodying) came from different Kibbutzim, they came together for a communal Kibbutz Seder, demonstrating how these characters, though different, still maintained many of the same beliefs.

DSC_5685In the Ohel Yitzhak (camp’s synagogue) an hour later, both groups came together to debate pressing issues of the time. Each group had a stance they were to take, once they’d constructed an educated argument. Their arguments were based upon what they had learned about their figure earlier in the day. Topics included: Israel should settle in the West Bank; and the Israeli government should be a secular government that should not consider Jewish law. Each of the groups, religious Zionists and labor Zionists, discovered that although each of these paratroopers had fought for the same things during the Six Day War, they each had their own opinions and ideologies. The debate brought together many of the things Machon and Tikvah had been learning all day: just as there are were many opinions within the group of paratroopers that helped win the Six Day War, there are many voices within Machon and Tikvah.

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