7:00 while walking the dog, stop off to unlock and straighten up the Shorashim synagogue for the orthodox boys middle school who slept in our hostel last night
7:15 breakfast at home while reading the newspaper.
7:45 organize teaching and PR materials for my trip to the US.
8:15 meet with this year's Galilee Fellows, R. and S., to agree on a work plan for the initial stage of our project in regional planning; the idea is to help schools (9-10th grades) do simulations of planning dilemmas as an interdisciplinary project in civics, environment, history, and geography. While I work on finding funding and recruiting pilot schools, R. and D. will research what teachers need to be taught in a preparatory inservice series to be able to carry out the project.
9:00 Last year's Fellows, M. and S., join us for a general staff meeting. We had hired a graduate student observer to document our Yodfat field day, so we devoted most of today's meeting to reviewing her notes and comments and discussing changes to be made when we do the same program for the other half of the seventh grade, next month. Once again, the uncomfortable dynamics of the interaction of the accompanying classroom teachers with us, the informal education "contractor," is a focus of our conversation. M. raises the question of her frustration with the group of Arab teens she works with each week in Sha'ab. She feels as though she is "spinning her wheels." We agree that we need to discuss - and help her reach closure - on a specific hierarchy of goals based on her documentation of last year's group, and create a formal work plan for the year. At our next meeting. Meanwhile she has two encounters already scheduled next week for this year's group, one with Australian Jewish teens, one with an adult group from a US synagogue.
11:15 meet with the two 10th grade coordinators at our local high school, to plan a full-day seminar we are contracting to provide for them in February, on challenges facing Israeli society. We keep suggesting to the school that we will train the teachers to carry out these programs on their own (similarly the Yodfat and Zippori programs for the seventh grade); but no one is buying, so again, we will do the program while they chaperone. There is a missed opportunity here, but I understand the difficulties of placing the burden on the teachers.
1:00 begin the last in a series of three inservice classes on "the varieties of Judaism" for the teachers in an elementary school in a development town near Haifa. Over twenty years ago the ministry of education introduced the possibility of some local initiative into what had been a highly centralized system. One result was the Tali network, (Tali is an acronym for intensified Jewish studies), which offers non-religious schools inservice training, curriculum materials, and enrichment programming in Jewish studies; it is now associated with the Conservative movement. This school has asked to be a part of this network, and my three lectures are a part of an ongoing training program. The teachers are all 30-something, dressed alike in jeans and knit tops; at 3:30 they all get up and leave to pick up their kids from day care. They are a fun group to teach; while it is not clear that they would be sitting here if they weren't required to be, they are willing to be engaged, and many are actually seriously thinking about their identities and the rationale for their own intuitive relationship to the tradition. One turns out to be a graduate of Leo Baeck, and admits that while she chose it simply because it was the best school in Haifa, she learned to understand and appreciate liberal Judaism in her years there.
4:30 back in the office, trying to clean off my desk.
5:00 home, packing for trip
6:00 leave for quick dinner with family at restaurant in Arab village enroute to Acco
7:15 board train for Tel Aviv
9:00 in Tel Aviv, on way to shuttle bus to the airport am accosted by a cabbie who informs me that the bus has been discontinued, but he will take me for a mere 80 shekels, a 10% discount. I take the bus (13 shekels).
9:45 the airport seems empty tonight...
11:00 ...but sure enough, my plane is full.
12:00 I notice an interesting trivium: On Continental Airlines flying to and from Israel, the safety instructions are read Hebrew, Arabic, and English; on El Al, there is no Arabic recording.