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August 31, 2015 | 16th Elul 5775

A Day In the Life II

December 9, 2001
Marc Rosenstein

5:00 Listen to the news (Are we at war? Will it rain all day?), shower, pray, walk the dog, eat breakfast

7:00 Open the office, check the email, attempt without success to repair the outside light on the dining room loading dock.

8:00 Depart for Har Halutz, the Reform community, for a meeting of the leadership of “LINK,” a foundation that does local projects integrating environmental action and Jewish-Arab coexistence, with David Renov, an architect specializing in “green” methods, to discuss joint projects. The 20 minute drive into the first ridge of the upper Galilee is beautiful, but challenging, as our old pickup truck does not have a functioning defroster. It is a classic Galilee winter day, temperature in the 50s, with racing, towering cloud formations in infinite shades of gray and white giving way to windows of glaring sunlight - and giving rise to brief, raging downpours. And an hour later, I drive down through a thick fog.

10:00 Brief catch-up in the office: do we cancel the Chanukah family tours we had advertised, due to low registration? Will our marketing director need back surgery? Will the missions and Birthright groups really come? How can we stall the bank a few more days? Can we get the grant application done by the deadline? When is Id El-fitr this year? Do I have time to update the antivirus today?

11:00 Meet at the county building with R, director of environmental quality, and D., director of strategic planning, to research a new project we are doing, a simulation game on regional planning. They help us clarify the dilemmas we hope to build into the game; e.g., the Zionist aim of thickening the Jewish population vs. the environmental goal of preserving green space vs. the natural expansion of the Arab communities; suburban sprawl vs. urban crowding; nationalist aims vs. economic justice. The conflicts are painful and fascinating. It seems to us that each planning case study we consider - the permit application for the soccer stadium in Arab Sachnin, the plan to build a hotel near the ruins of ancient Yodfat, the high tech industrial park adjoining the rural residential community, the question of whose sewage flows where - is an opportunity to grapple with the future of the state in a microcosm, to explore conflicts between lofty values manifest in stone and asphalt and wood. We learn that while planning is a technical profession, it is largely driven by value choices that are anything but technical.

12:00 Meet with H. of our educational staff to plan a four month program we have been asked to provide for post-high school kids from the Habonim youth movement from various English-speaking countries: due to the security situation they are moving their “urban kibbutz” experience from Jerusalem to the Galilee, and we are to arrange and supervise volunteer service placments in the area, as well as 15 hours of class and field study each week, in Jewish history, Israeli culture, socialist Zionism (yes!), and leadership skills. It is an exciting project and a big undertaking.

2:00 Leave for Oranim teachers’ college, where I participate in a weekly study group of about 20 people from the whole religous spectrum - from orthodox to secular. Each 5 hour meeting is divided into three parts: study of classical (Talmud, medieval philosophy) text, modern text, and the writing of creative midrash. There are some very impressive people in a very heterogeneous group. Some weeks I have the patience for it, some weeks it seems to drag.

9:00 A meeting of our Jewish-Arab tour guide working-group. We do a post-mortem on our first commercial venture: last week we were hired to do a day-long tour in the region for a group from a pre-army study year program: bright, mixed secular-religious, serious kids. A., a Christian Arab from Acco, and N., from a local Jewish settlement co-guided a day that included meetings with an “internal refugee” from 1948, a representative of the local Islamic movement, and a Bedouin village. Although we had some concerns that our Arab guide is too much of a Zionist and our Jewish guide too much of a leftist, it turned out that the feedback was very positive, and the experience of the two of them working together provided an important dimension to the day.

11:00 At home, coffee with Tami, and half-hearted, tired practice of the Arabic dialogue we learned at last night’s lesson (we started private lessons three weeks ago).

12:00 Listen to the news (Are we at war? Will it rain all day tomorrow?). Lights out.


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