By Rich Dinetz
Student, Baltimore Hebrew Institute
On our drive to Haifa around 8:30 a.m. this morning, December 28, the windows on the left side of the bus were filled with a sparkling blue aura as we drove north up Israel’s coast along the Mediterranean Sea. Once we arrived in Haifa, we walked through Baha’i Gardens, a gorgeous shrine belonging to the Baha’i, who are people of a religion that believes in all religions of the world. They believe in full equality among genders. Their library includes texts that analyze all religions of the world. This garden is not part of the state system of Israel. It is a separate entity. Learning about the Baha’i was fascinating and this sight is just one of many incredible places in Israel that are gorgeous beyond description.
After visiting the gardens, we traveled to east Haifa to Yemin Orde, which is a youth village for troubled youth from Israel, Russia, Ukraine, Ethiopia and South America, a village partially funded by THE ASSOCIATED Israel and Overseas allocation. We had the honor of meeting with Dr. Haim Perry, the emeritus of the organization. He explained that Yemin Orde is a world-renowned organization that takes children from orphanages and unfit homes and provides them with family-like living accommodations and a quality education. We had the great opportunity to meet with several students and staff of Yemin Orde who were from Israeli, Russian and Ethiopian descent, which was truly a treat to be able to see how each culture affected each individual’s experiences prior to and currently in the organization. The beautiful campus was also a recognition of multiple cultures as we were able to enter a real-life model of an Ethiopian synagogue.
Prior to returning to our hotel in Netanya, we stopped in the ancient Roman city of Cesaria. The ancient runes, destructed columns, and remnants of the famous Hippodrome and Ampitheater was just another reminder how old and rich in history Israel really is. After a 10-minute video on the history of the former Israeli capital and an exhilarating walking tour, we boarded our bus and returned to our hotel by the sea.
Students from the Baltimore Hebrew Institute are travelling through Israel now on a leadership mission. You will be able to follow their experiences here, on THE ASSOCIATED’s Global Impact Blog.