Thursday, December 17, 2009

14 Baltimore dati girls visit Ashkelon for Hanukah

Hanuka vacation and 14 Baltimore girls, from Midrashot in Jerusalem, came to Ashkelon to spend the daywith HaGarin HaTorani Orot , accompanied by Terri Cherbite from JAFI and Leah from Masa.
In the evening, they lit Hanukah candles at a traffic circle in the center of one of the neighborhoods. It was a sandstorm and difficult toget the candles lit but no-one really noticed because everyone was out and about and having such a fun time! There was dancing by the Garin HaTorani boys, high spirits, and lots of "soofganiyot " handed out to passers-by.
The Baltimore girls spent the day at Barzilai Medical Center doing their "chessed mitzvah", handing out"soofganiyot" and visiting with patients. They then did something very Israeli with their Ashkelon hostesses (girls their own age and younger, from Garin HaTorani, from their Shnat Sherut group and from Bnei Akiva). They went door-to door in small groups in one of the apartment buildings, knocking on doors, and handing out "soofganiyot". They lit candles on a hannukiya they brought with them and sangHanuka songs with Israeli families. This "chutzpadick" informal direct contact with Ashkelon families made a lasting impression on them and was one of the highlights of their busy day in Ashkelon.
The Garin HaTorani staff in charge of the dinner at 'Beit HaMidrash Imry Tal' are all young, enthusiastic and motivated, and warm. (Manager Eliyahu Reuven is part of the partnership strategic planning process.) Their Rabbi Reisman is an ex-American who spent many years studying in Baltimore. After dinner he delivered a short (and interesting) Dvar Torah in English and Hebrew, and then went over to chat with the girls and ask "who knows who" . That was a nice personal contact for them with an impressive personality.
After hearing about Ashkelon, the Partnership, and how Park Baltimore was built, many of the girls wanted to know about coming ro Ashkelon for a Shabbat. HaGarin HaTorani is already following that up to make it happen.
The last surprise was when Eliyahu handed each of the girls a memento of their visit to Ashkelon - a personal photo on a magnet (see attached photos). That must have been quite a logistical challenge for Eliyahu but it was a huge hit!
Thank you to everyone for a great day!

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