Junior Journey: Friday in Tel Aviv

Rabbi Dean Kertesz
Our first week is coming to an end as Friday afternoon (Yom Shishi) winds down into Shabbat. 
We had a busy and exciting day as we explored Tel Aviv's past and present. We began our morning at #1 Rothschild Blvd. This was the beginning of the new city of Tel Aviv, built on sand dunes in 1909 as the first Hebrew city. We divided the students up into five groups and asked them what they would do if they were creating a city from scratch, on a blank canvass. What buildings would they put in the heart of their new city, why would they choose them and what values were they trying to communicate? After each group explained their ideas to the entire class, our guide, Shaia, explained that this was the task that faced the founders of Tel Aviv. As we stood at the corner of Herzl St. and Rothschild Blvd. he explained that the first important building in Tel Aviv was the Herzl Gymnasium, an academic high school and the language wars, the fight over which language would be used at the school and among the founders of the new Jewish city on the shores of the Mediterranean. We used that as jumping off point to explore the vibrant Hebrew culture that was created in British Mandatory Palestine and later the State of Israel. While people are so often enamored by the economic and military achievements of Israel, the creation of a vibrant, modern culture in Hebrew, with literature, theater, film, and art is perhaps even more miraculous an acheivement. All of it accomplished in a little more than 100 years in a language that had lain dormant for centuries.
After discussing the history of the development of Hebrew culture we met with a number of Israeli artists in the Florentine neighborhood of Tel Aviv, graphic designers, dancers and musicians. Each of them shared their art with us, giving us a taste of the crativity that is a central part of Tel Aviv's DNA.
We then took the students to the Shuk Ha Carmel, Tel Aviv's open air market and the Nahalat Binyamin craft fair with time to buy lunch and shop before Shabbat. 
Now we are back at our hotel for some quiet time to prepare for Shabbat. Tonight and tomorrow will give us time to "chill" as your students celebrate Shabbat in a variety of ways from synagogue attendance for those who wish to go, to quiet time to relax and hang out with frients.
I'm going off-line for Shabbat and wil check back in Saturday night or Sunday.
Shabbat shalom from Tel Aviv -- Rabbi Dean Kertesz
Jewish Community High School of the Bay
1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.345.9777
The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace their Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.