Voices from the Field
While often the elder generation teaches the younger generation, in this case the “youngsters” taught us.
Each summer, the Dor L'Dor (Generation to Generation) Leadership Program brings the oldest campers from the Cohen Camps – Camps Tevya, Pembroke and Tel Noar – together for an intensive five-week tour of Israel, a trip that is physically, spiritually, and intellectually stimulating. Our annual challenge: how to convey this amazing experience to families, friends and younger campers? This summer, the Dor L’Dor counselors discovered the iCenter’s “Show Us a Way Israel is in Your Life” photo campaign and determined to win the iPad to share the trip in new ways.
As the program’s senior leaders, coming from a limited technology generation, we were -- to be honest -- a little hesitant to invest in an iPad. We wondered if it would be a distraction, or if on one of the many hikes it would be dropped, left behind or broken. To us, it was unclear if this iPad would/could actually be an asset. But the younger generation had no doubts.
A few days later, we learned that Ally Wheelwright, a participant from 2009, submitted a photo to the campaign and won the random drawing! In true Dor L’Dor fashion, she donated her iPad to the 2013 trip.
The iPad proved to be a huge asset. Passed from bus to bus, it still came back in one piece, unbroken and never lost. The counselors used it to organize to-do lists, take videos and pictures, and download information about places they were visiting. While we discourage personal technology use amongst the teen participants, technology as a tool for the staff to use to teach and communicate became a valued resource. We can imagine a number of uses that will help us better organize, inform and communicate using the iPad next year.
The generosity and wisdom of one generation of Dor L’Dor has enabled this year’s program to touch multiple generations of Dor L’Dor participants. The introduction of a simple iPad from a previous participant will help propel the next generations of Dor L’Dor into the future.
The Dor L'Dor Leadership Program is a combined program of the Eli & Bessie Cohen Camps. Current campers who have completed the 10th grade are eligible to experience a memorable 5-week tour of Israel and return to camp as Counselors-In-Training (CIT’s). At the Eli & Bessie Cohen Camps, we strongly believe that exposing young people to Israel and their Jewish Heritage are integral parts of building Jewish identity and character. We view visiting and experiencing Israel as an important rite-of-passage, and the transition between being a camper and counselor is the ideal moment for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. As in the name Dor L’Dor – from generation to generation – the trip helps teens understand their position and importance - both in the history of the Jewish people and as the next generations of leaders at camp.
On our recent trip to Israel, we had the unique opportunity to explore the Google offices in Tel Aviv, Israel. We want to share with you some elements of Google that, for us, reflect a real sense of “Yisraeliyut” – that which made these offices in Tel Aviv something unique and special.
Creating the Environment
Google is extremely creative in the way they designed their work space. Each of the 8 floors at Google is inspired by a different location in Israel. They even have "smell machines" that pump in the scent of those environments (i.e. sand on the beach floor) ensuring that every detail affects all of the senses! Below are just a few examples of some of Google's floors. For the complete album, click here.
|Google brought this Tel Aviv neighborhood into their space through the rustic looking window frames, the flower pots that line the hallway, and the laundry line hanging from the ceiling. This neighborhood is heavily influenced by European immigrants in the late 19th century. We didn’t even have to ask what place in Israel inspired this floor – the moment we walked in, we knew where we were!|
We all daydream about being at the beach while at work (c’mon, admit it, I know you do too!). So what if you could combine the two? We arrived to the beach via waterslide, and we saw a long table with lifesavers hanging on the wall. “Who sits here?” we asked.
“Tech support. After all, who do you think the lifesavers (matzilim מצילים) of any company are?!”
And in case you thought I wasn’t being serious about the water slide that brought us to the beach, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Shm5Bl-3Ts&feature=youtu.be
There were only two places that weren’t inspired by places around Israel, and HR was one of them. This space was inspired by a New York loft space, yet the attitude and philosophy of this environment is what made us think of Israel and Start Up Nation:
“I don’t like cellular offices. If I need privacy, I go to a meeting room. I always say I’m not the boss, I’m not the leader, I’m not the manager, we’re a team.” It was also pretty cool to see the "start up nation" actually take some inspiration from us Americans!
Eifo Ani (אני איפה)? Where Am I?
You might be wondering where people actually do work. Trust us, everyone was hard at work, but we weren’t actually allowed to interrupt them! GoogleTLV designed their space using a 50/50 philosophy – 50% of the floor would be dedicated workspace while the other 50% would be dedicated to “fun.”
The whole Google model is to make it so their employees aren’t distracted. If you're thinking about how you have laundry or need to buy food or need to get your hair done, then your work doesn’t have your complete attention. As a result, Google takes care of that for you! It makes prefect sense - environment is such an important element to mood and productivity.
If you’d like to see all the pictures from our GoogleTLV tour, check out our Flickr album here! And, as always, we encourage you to share photos with us of the "Yisraeliyut" in your educational settings: firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 22, 2013, I had the opportunity to join Olim on the Nefesh b’Nefesh Charter Flight to Israel as the Jewish Agency representative. The ceremony at JFK crowded this small section of the airport where so many friends and family gathered around to say goodbye to their loved ones, some of which flew in from other states to be there for this moment. Someone started gathering all the children and asked them to pose in front of the Aliyah banner for a photo opportunity.
I ran over with my camera because the kids were so adorable and excited. And then…out came Gilad Shalit, who quickly joined the picture.
The moment when I saw his face - literally 5 feet away from mine - put me in shock. I am not one to be so “star-struck,” but Gilad is no ordinary celebrity. Gilad Shalit is an icon to the Jewish people. He is a brother and/or a son to almost every Israeli, and to many Jews outside of Israel. He is a representation of the Israel Defense Forces. For 5 years during his captivity, the Jewish people longed for his return home.
In 2010 I travelled to Italy and visited the Great Synagogue of Rome. There are many ways to be connected to Jewish communities outside your own, but what stood out most for me was the sign, written in both Hebrew and Italian, with a large photo of Gilad Shalit hoping for his freedom. Gilad Shalit created a sense of Peoplehood in this sense, and longing for his return became an ideal that the Jewish people could share.
When I saw Gilad standing in front of me, I thought about the day he was released and how my eyes were glued to the computer screen, constantly refreshing the page to find out the newest information. While the trade for Gilad’s freedom is something I will continue to struggle with, yesterday all I was thinking was “Gilad, my brother, I am so happy you are safe and free.”
I flew to Israel with over 230 Olim who chose to make Israel their home. Many of them have children who will one day serve in the army. For 5 years we waited for Gilad to come home and now, almost two years later, he is taking us, the Jewish people, back home with him to Israel. What a beautiful concept.
Rachel Kesner grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and she spent several summers in Israel, volunteering at a summer camp in Chicago’s partnership region, Kiryat Gat – Shafir – Lachish. Rachel graduated from the University of Indiana with a BA in English, and following her studies, she spent a year in Israel as a participant on the Otzma volunteering program. Rachel’s experiences in Israel inspired her to pursue a career in the Jewish non-profit world and she now works for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Midwest Aliyah Coordinator. Rachel is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Jewish Professional Services at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago.