People always ask, Rabbi, what do you do all day? Last Tuesday was a fairly typical day (though dinner is usually earlier...).
6:30 while walking the dog, check exterior maintenance of the units in our hostel, stop off to set up the chairs in the synagogue for a visiting group.
7:00 pick up K., our assistant cook, from her home in the nearby Moslem village of Dir El Asad, discussing, en route, her decision to buy a family membership in the swimming pool/health club in the village. Transportation to and from work is a standard fringe benefit around here.
7:30 check email, organize desk, etc.
8:15 with H., one of our Galilee Fellows interns in informal education, drive to a nearby Jewish village, Yaad, to meet with two tour operators interested in working with us to develop values-education seminars for Israeli school and adult groups. Together we decide to convene a brainstorming evening and invite formal and informal educators from the area.
10:45 continue with H. to the Environmental Quality Station in the Arab town of Sachnin, to tour the facility and explore the possibility of including their activities in our educational programs. A very impressive operation, with a sophisticated alternative technology experimental station and demonstration laboratory. All kinds of neat ideas for projects in my back yard, which I will almost certainly not find time to do.
12:30 stop for lunch (delicious hummus) in Sachnin.
1:30 continue with H. to Eshbal, the newest kibbutz in Israel, where 40 idealistic young people are trying to build a community whose main activity will be values education. They already run a residential program for Ethiopian youth who have dropped out of the system, and provide programming for Jewish and Beduin youth groups in the area. Here too our agenda is to explore cooperative programs; however, for all their openness, these kids have an almost cultlike commitment to their own methods, and are very wary of any influence by the world of professional education.
3:00 back in the office. Prepare proposal (requested by a colleague) for a research conference on evaluation of peace education programming (does anyone know if anything really works?). Plan the logistics of providing seminars for a few groups next week, and follow up on the latest bundle of cancellations of tour groups from the US.
5:30 emergency repairs to hostel units, fixing problems discovered (of course) an hour before the expected arrival of a group of 60 Israeli 7th graders on a school trip. Due to the continuing tourism crisis, we have laid off most of our support staff, leaving management (i.e., me) to do their jobs.
7:00 help serve dinner to the group, boys (mostly Ethiopian) from an orthodox middle school.
8:00 meeting of the steering committee of our dialogue group for local orthodox and non- orthodox residents. Discussion of reasons for seeming loss of momentum and interest. Decision to move from informal text study to sessions based on a more formal presentation; the next session will feature a dialogue between an orthodox and a secular speaker on the relationship between Judaism and democracy.
11:00 home, dinner, get report from Tami on a phone call from Lev, who has now finished his training and has completed the first two days of his first real assignment, manning a border crossing between Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy. He finds it difficult and interesting - says he is learning a lot about the situation first hand, and a lot about himself.