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The Bureau of Jewish Education offers Jewish teenagers from the Greater Boston area an opportunity to participate in an outstanding educational experience. In its 14th year, Havayah has been acclaimed as a program that both impacts and strengthens participants’ Jewish identity, providing them a rare opportunity to discover common links with Jewish communities in Israel and Ukraine while developing important leadership skills. This year, the Havayah Winter Experience in Boston’s sister city of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine was February 8-22, 2009.
HAVAYAH IS ABOUT...
E D U C A T I O N.... In Dnepropetrovsk, the Americans and Israelis are joined by their Ukrainian peers in conducting seven days of educational programming for a variety of Jewish organizations. The educational activities will include workshops and discussions on such topics as assimilation, anti-Semitism and Zionism, musical and dramatic presentations and fun-filled games.
T I K K U N O L A M... As students learn about the rebirth of a Jewish community, they also experience the passion to help in its on-going revitalization. Each year, the Havayah group engages in a variety of social action projects designed to complement the trip’s educational programming.
C U L T U R E... In addition to their work, participants tour Dnepropetrovsk and its surrounding area to gain a sense of life in the Former Soviet Union as well as understand the revitalization of Jewish life in the FSU. Students will discover and explore the many denominations of Judaism present in Dnepropetrovsk. A joyous Shabbat program with Ukrainian students in the newly refurbished Golden Rose Chorale Synagogue is a highlight of the students’ experience.
I S R A E L... Following an intensive eight week training session in Boston, the students fly to Israel and meet with students from Haifa who will be joining them. Boston students will be with their Israeli counterparts before, during and after their time in Dnepropetrovsk to create a community; to learn and perform g’milut chasadim; and to share this unique K’lal Yisrael experience together.
C O M M U N I T Y... This program is another opportunity to supplement and strengthen the students’ Jewish educational experiences within the Greater Boston Jewish community. Synagogues are suggested to view Havayah as an important part of a teen’s “curriculum” and to encourage returning participants to see themselves as leaders of their congregations. One of the expectations of our Havayah alumni is upon return they will commit to assisting Boston educational sites with the teaching of Connecting Communities, Boston and Dnepropetrovsk: Rebuilding Jewish Life, which is taught in many of our classrooms.
“Seeing those kids crying as they ran after the bus didn't really hit me until we left Ukraine. I don't think it was our programming that made a difference for them, it was the fact that they knew a group of people on the other side of the world cared for them” -Marisa Levinson, Shir Tikva, Wayland
“This trip has changed me for the better. It’s given me a new perspective on life. It’s taught me what is truly important; the values of community, helping others, and the power of 20 Americans, 15 Israelis, and 12 Ukrainians to change lives” - Josh Basseches, Temple Emunah, Lexington
Here are some photos from Havayah
Despite occasional language barriers and regardless of their home cities, these teens recognized that they are all Jewish. Through this wonderful program, new friendships arise (and many have continued over many years); kids develop a sense of being part of a global Jewish community; they identify as Jews and appreciate the value of preparation and hard, collaborative effort.
Havayah strengthens the Jewish identity of the Americans, Israelis and Ukrainians, creates lifelong friendships and a deeper commitment to K’lal Yisrael.