November 4, 2016

Hello from the Rishonim!

Roni Belkin

My name is Roni Belkin. I’m 18 years old, and I’m from Ra’anana, Israel. This year, I’m one of the rishonim – young Israeli emissaries – at GOA.
Generally, rishonim come to this community from Arad, Rishon Le’Zion, Ra’anana, Ofakim, Merhavim, Horfesh and Kibutz Erez- all different cities in Israel that have partnerships with the Jewish community here of Greater Metrowest.
Being a part of the rishonim program entails volunteering in Jewish schools, synagogues and youth movements all over the Jewish community, running educational activities about Israel and Judaism.
For me, being a rishona is about bonding and creating relationships but most importantly taking advantage of the opportunities that come my way. During my friends’ and my work here, we meet many, many people: host families, teachers, rabbis, educational staff and mostly a lot of kids of all different ages, ranging from gan (kindergarten) to seniors in high school.
Previous rishonim who were in this community told us that the biggest tip that they could give us was that in the end, this experience is all about the people and the connections that you make.
After being here for over a month, I’m already starting to understand what they were talking about: It’s so amazing seeing how everyone here treats us so well and how people make us feel at home in a place that is half a world away. My friends and I can’t wait – and actually have already started – to create those relationships, to create an influence and to enjoy the amazing opportunity that was given to us.
It’s only the beginning- but it’s already so amazing! I’m looking forward to the rest of the year!

Roni Belkin is serving as a rishona this year in the Greater Metrowest community. In this capacity, she and the six other emissaries spend time volunteering and working with students in a range of Jewish and non-Jewish institutions to educate them about Israel.

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A Letter from a Jewish Leader

David Harris, American Jewish Committee Chief Executive Officer

Having spent many years in Jewish communal life, I have learned the importance of effective leadership. Indeed, in many ways, it is the key to Jewish success.
When I was invited to speak at a university a few years ago, the staff there thought I’d naturally want to address questions of international affairs or, more specifically, the Middle East, but I said I wanted to share with the students something no one had shared with me while in high
school or college: the elements of leadership I had tried to learn on the job.
It worked out quite well, or at least I hope it did, though those students coming to challenge a pro-Israel advocate must have been sorely disappointed with the topic under discussion. My aspirational understanding of leadership can be summarized by the acronym VIPHS. I hope you will find it helpful as you pursue your high-school education and beyond.

V is for Vision
A leader needs to see beyond the present. The challenge is not just to get through the day, difficult though that may admittedly be at times. Rather, it’s to formulate a longer-term goal of where to go and why.
Identifying the aim of the exercise is only the first step for a leader, though. In some ways, it may even be the easiest, though rarely simple. The next two steps are still more difficult.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, one of my political heroes, famously said in the Houses of Parliament in 1940, “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs - Victory in spite of all terrors - Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.”
In doing so, the British leader set forth a crystal-clear goal for his nation at war.
However, then came the next step: how to operationalize the bold vision, which would have to entail just about every nook and cranny of government and society.
Along with the vision and its operationalization came, hand-in- hand, the third element, one that Churchill, of course, excelled at, namely, how to communicate the goals, the stakes, the needs, and the urgency in a way that would galvanize an entire country.
Churchill set a standard to which few can aspire and even fewer can ever match. Still, at whatever level of leadership each of us may be, his example and the essential elements of
vision should be an inspiring example and constant reminder.

I is for Integrity
Leaders worthy of the name ought to be people of unimpeachable integrity – personal integrity, intellectual integrity, moral integrity – and the institutions and offices they lead need to reflect the same levels of trustworthiness.
In other words, I am who I say I am and we are who we say we are.
Enjoying trust is one of life’s biggest gifts. Squandering or betraying that trust can be irreparably damaging.
The choice must always be clear, conveyed and convincing.

P is for Passion
Leaders of whatever rank or position should be infused with a driving passion for their mission. Their passion ought to be contagious, spreading to everyone around them.
I recall a former employee once telling me here, “The difference between you and me is that for you this is your passion, while for me it’s my job.”
Well, in that case, I must have failed, because a leader’s goal must be to help ensure that what excites and inspires her or him is as universally embraced as possible.
For some reason, I just about always had a driving passion for my work, be it as a waterskiing counselor at a Maine summer camp (well, that was easy to have a passion for!), a postal worker in Philadelphia, an English-as- a-second- language teacher, a migration caseworker for Soviet Jews in Rome and Vienna, or, since 1979, here at AJC.

H is for Humility
We live in a world where hubris, not humility, too often rules the roost; where “me” is often far more common than “we,” where it’s about one’s personal strivings and satisfaction, not something larger and where strutting and boasting are frequently on display.
Then there are those who feel this way but try pretend otherwise, so they practice what I’d call a feigned or contrived humility, wanting to play the part, but not doing so very convincingly at all.
The aim of an authentic leader, I believe, ought to be in seeking to achieve genuine humility, which means understanding that we’re all part of something much bigger than ourselves, that we depend on one another for our ultimate success and that the inherent worth and dignity of everyone on board needs to be affirmed and validated.

S is for Spine
I’ve also come to understand that a leader needs a backbone.
The goal of the exercise can’t always be universal appeal or approval, desirable though they may, at first glance, seem.
Leaders must be many things and play many roles, but having the courage of one’s convictions, standing up for them, and, when necessary, being unflinching and resolute are non-negotiable traits of leadership.
Of course, leaders need to know how to listen, truly listen, to others; how to avoid the trap of becoming their own best advisers; and how to keep an open mind before making decisions.
At some point, though, leaders need to go beyond, to make decisions and to be willing to defend them.
As the late U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower said, “The path of great leadership does not lie along the top of a fence.”


David Harris is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a prominent Jewish advocacy organization. Before joining AJC, Harris worked with Jews in both the Soviet Union and in Ethiopia.

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The Jewish Importance of Voting

Rabbi Jesse M. Olitzky, Congregation Beth El of South Orange



I remember the first United States presidential election I really followed.
Thanks to Mrs. Velasco’s U.S. History class at Schechter, now GOA, we read the newspapers every morning and watched the news every evening so that we could report back on the issues. She inspired our class to focus on the election even though many of us weren’t old enough to cast a vote. She explained that the issues mattered to us; they would impact us because we were the future.
I’ve come to realize that elections matter not only as an American, but matter as a Jew as well. Our tradition teaches that we must be involved in the community. Pirkei Avot 2:5 teaches Al Tifrosh min HaTzibur – don’t distance yourself from community. Voting is a sign and commitment that one is involved in community; being involved in the political process – and caring about the election, even if you aren’t old enough to vote – is the way we ensure that we don’t distance ourselves from the community.
In fact, many in the Jewish community were allies in the fight for voting rights during the civil rights movement. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – along with hundreds of clergy of diverse faiths –  famously marched arm-in-arm with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, because our faith obligates us to vote and also to ensure that everyone has that right.
The Jewish belief in the right to vote was not just a belief that clergy fought for. Two Jews, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were murdered along with James Chaney on June 21, 1964 in Mississippi during the “Freedom Summer,” when they traveled south to register voters. The right to vote should not be taken lightly; many have literally given their lives for this right.
In the United States, it is illegal for a religious institution to publicly endorse a candidate; the institution’s non-profit status can be jeopardized if one does so. That is why you won’t see a synagogue or a Jewish day school promoting whom to vote for; that is why you won’t see me standing on the bima in my congregation telling people whom to vote for. Too many people, however, assume that means that as religious institutions, we should avoid talking about the election altogether. I think that is a mistake.
If I learned anything from Mrs. Velasco’s history class while a student at GOA and if we learned anything from the likes of Rabbi Heschel marching and of Goodman and Schwerner being murdered, it is that as Jews, all elections are important.
Moreover, we must use Jewish values to guide our decision in whom to support. We are taught: “Do not hate another in your heart” (Lev. 19:17) and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Furthermore, the obligation to “welcome the stranger” appears in the Torah more times than any other mitzvah. These are the values that guide me – supporting love and standing up to hate. The Talmud teaches that “silence is tantamount to consent” (Bava Metzia 37b). As a rabbi, as a Jew, and as a human being, these are the values that guide me.
Find whatever values guide you and let those determine who you think is best fit to serve as president, as senator, and as congressional representative. Most importantly, though, don’t separate yourself from the community. Be involved in the process. That is what our faith teaches us.

Rabbi Jesse Olitzky is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth El in South Orange. An alumnus of SSDS/GOA (Class of '02), he was student council secretary and the Roadrunner mascot while at Schechter. He previously served as rabbi at the Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville, Florida and currently sits on the Social Justice Commission of the Conservative Movement's Rabbinical Assembly.

A Life Guided by Music

Matan Kogen ‘18

GOA choir director Mr. Nicholas Kaminski was born into a life of music and describes his family as “the Kardashians of polka.” However, he wasn’t born a musician. His musical prowess is the product of years of training.
Kaminski's father, Grammy-nominated Gerry Kaminski, got into polka through his parents and, despite his skill with the genre, spent his whole life trying to distance himself from it in favor of scoring movies, but turned back to it whenever he needed money.
This is kind of natural talent has helped many musicians achieve greatness. Unfortunately, it has also added pressure for the musician’s children to be as good, if not better.
Kaminski started playing piano at the age of four. Kaminski’s father didn’t care whether his son had much fun learning music, hiring skilled teachers rather than gentle ones.
“First, I went to this music studio, with a guy in a room - it was a dark room - and I never saw the guy’s face, his name was Jules,” Kaminski said. “The room was so dark that I could only see his hands as he turned the pages for me.”
Later on, Kaminski switched to a new teacher who was a “Russian lady who was really mean to [him], and she would hit [his] hands with a ruler, and say ‘You have limp wrists!’” He added that he never learned the woman’s name, she made him cry and frequently told his mother that he needed to practice more.
Despite these negative experiences, Kaminski always loved music and especially enjoyed writing music, arranging his first piece by the age of 13. Unfortunately for Kaminski, his rendition of Aquarius Let the Sunshine In wasn’t great and he never got anyone to perform it.
When the time came for Kaminski to start college, he knew he wanted to attend Mason Gross, the Rutgers school of music. Kaminski auditioned for the piano program but was placed into “Beginner Piano Group 1,” essentially ignoring his 14 years of formal training.
Kaminski was wait-listed for the voice program, which he had auditioned for as a backup. He somehow even managed to be the only person accepted to the organ program, for which he had not auditioned. With some luck, Kaminski was moved off of the wait list for the voice program, eventually earning a Music BA with a concentration in Voice.
Though Kaminski’s professional life currently revolves around music, he didn’t jump straight there from college. In fact, after college, Kaminski didn’t even work exclusively in music, but his musical background followed him everywhere.
One of Kaminski’s first jobs after college was working as a telemarketer for a home security company. While all of his co-workers were reading from scripts, Kaminski memorized his and became so confident that he used accents on his calls, using a New York accent to earn the respect of New Yorkers and Scottish to peak the interest of New Jerseyans.
Today, his background in voice helps him in directing the Golden Ochtaves. Though many of the choir’s songs are in Hebrew, Kaminski, who was raised Presbyterian, says it’s easy for him because Hebrew is so similar to Latin, the language of Catholic liturgical music. The only hard part for him, he added, is the “ch” sound.
Kaminski has added much-needed depth to the choir, pushing them to perform gospel and classical music. He told the choir last year, after returning from the Kolot HaYam music festival and competition, that he would never be great at arranging the kind of pop music they would normally perform, but that he would always make sure the choir was singing every note correctly, paying attention to dynamics and other often-ignored details, but, when done correctly, would hugely improve any piece of music.
Kaminski and his father were never interested polka or vocals, respectively; yet when they embraced these talents and turned them into professions, they were both able to do incredible things, from being nominated for a Grammy, to scoring a movie, to training the musicians of tomorrow.

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Ms. Schibener Takes the Stage!

Shifra Zuckerman ‘18

Originally striving to become a journalist, Ms. Wendy Schibener decided at the last minute to follow her true passion and love: performing arts.
When Schibener started college at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, she was heavily involved in the theater program. However, she did not acknowledge that she wanted to pursue acting professionally until her senior year in college.
Schibener always had a love for the theater. Starting way back in kindergarten as the Baby Bird who couldn’t fly, through high school and still to this day. She starred in a number of high school productions including playing Glinda in The Wizard of Oz, The Dumb Blonde Stepsister in Cinderella, Wendy Joe in Footloose and the Best Friend in Bye Bye Birdie.
Schibener is inspired by iconic actors such as Spalding Gray, Rachel McAdams and Tom Hanks who are believed to be flexible performers that she likes to take after.
“I believe a true actor is someone who is versatile,” Schibener said. “Someone who is capable of playing many parts, a good collaborator and adaptable.”
Through many performances over the years, she has had some interesting experiences working on the shows.
“I played Veronica in the production of Veronica’s Room,” Schibener explained. “I died in the show and the man in charge of lifting me off stage banged my head on the set’s door really hard. It was beyond painful but I had to play dead, so I could not scream in agony even though I felt the golf ball sized lump growing by the second.”
After graduating Bucknell with a bachelor's in Theater and English, Schibener went on to receive her MSA in Theater at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Years later, she has helped direct multiple productions at Bucks County Playhouse, taught as a movement and voice professor at the County College of Morris and found her way to GOA.
Recently, Schibener finished directing her first GOA performance of Romeo and Juliet.
“The production was so much fun,” Schibener said. “It was kind of scary coming right into the show not knowing the students, their skill levels and having everyone cast already. However, the cast was so welcoming, talented and Mr. Herskowitz was so great to work with which made the production a blast.”
Today, Schibener continues to act in her free time. She also has an original theater company in the works by the name of Hundredth Monkey Theater Collective. When Schibener is not on stage, she can be found playing with her pets, painting, decorating cakes, or making YouTube videos (channel: Wendy Schibener).

Golda Och Academy is beyond thrilled to have such a talented, hard working and caring teacher join the faculty. We look forward to getting to know Ms. Schibener even better over the years to come.

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Remembering Shimon Peres (1923-2016)

Sam Russo ‘18
On September 28, Israel and the entire Jewish world lost a great leader. Shimon Peres, who passed away at the age of 93, served the Israeli people as member of the Knesset, minister of defense, finance, transportation, and foreign affairs, prime minister and most recently, president.
Peres was born Shimon Persky in Poland in 1923 and by the time he was 11, he and his parents had moved to what was then Palestine. As a young man, Peres became involved in politics, working with the group that would later become Israel’s Labor Party as well as Histadrut, the group of unions.
In 1944, David Ben-Gurion sent Peres to survey the Sinai Peninsula. There, inspired by what he thought was an eagles’ nest, he changed his last name to Peres, the Hebrew word for eagle.
Politically, Peres is remembered for both seeking peace but also strengthening Israel militarily.
One of the most famous and historic moments in Peres’s life is the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. This agreement, between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, outlined a path to peace. Peres, along with Yasser Arafat – the leader of the PLO – and Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister at the time, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for their work toward peace.
At the same time, Peres created an arms deal with France that strengthened Israel’s military. This deal also helped Israel on the path to nuclear weapons by employing French help for building an Israeli nuclear reactor.
Although he served three times as prime minister, Peres was not once elected. He took the position from Rabin, both after he resigned in 1977 and after he was assassinated in 1995. Peres also served as prime minister for two years, from 1984-1986, through a unique coalition with the opposition party.
Today, Peres represents the end of an era; he was the last Israeli politicians to have been active since the founding of the state. For many, his loss is coupled with the loss of hope for the peace that he so strongly represented.

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GOA Student Activists Take on UNESCO

Kim Robins ‘17

On Tuesday, October 18, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved the Occupied Palestine resolution that sets guidelines for preserving the various holy sites in Jerusalem. The resolution, which came before UNESCO in 2015 but passed a preliminary vote on October 13 of this year, describes the Temple Mount complex using only Arabic terms found in Muslim scripture.
Occupied Palestine has been criticized for its failure to address the historical and religious significance of the Temple Mount complex, which includes the Western Wall, to Jews and Christians. Jewish and pro-Israel activists in particular accuse UNESCO of ignoring evidence confirming that the Holy Temples stood at the site over 2,000 years ago. Many call the resolution an attack on Israel itself.
This is not the first time that the UN has acted unfavorably towards Israel. The UN Security Council and UNESCO in particular have passed a disproportionate number of anti-Israel resolutions - for example, four percent of the Security Council’s resolutions between 1955 and 2013 explicitly condemned Israel and have given the Palestinian territories powers typically reserved for sovereign nations.
International leaders, including UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, have spoken out against Occupied Palestine for its unfairness. Others support the resolution fervently, sending death threats to Bokova for her stance. Others still, such as Mexico and its UN representatives, have changed their stances on the resolution and are forcing UNESCO to recount the vote.
GOA students have their own strong opinions on the resolution.
“Denying Jewish... historical and religious connections to the Temple Mount is ridiculous,” said senior Emma Weiss.
She noted that Jews, Muslims and others all have “serious ties” to the Temple Mount that the international community must recognize.
Senior Ari Esrig agreed that the resolution is unfair and that “anti-Semitic Muslim countries” allowed it to pass.
While senior Daniel Cohen opposes UNESCO’s treatment of the Temple Mount as an exclusively Muslim holy site, he is more concerned about a different section of the resolution.
“The central issue is the criticism of Israel for violence and destruction concerning the Gaza strip,” he said, “[but a complete disregard for] the damage done by denizens of the Gaza strip to Israeli civilians. I noticed that while Israel is repeatedly criticized for harming Palestinian children, there is not a word to recognize the attacks made on Israeli children.”
Angered by these injustices against Israel and the Jewish people, many GOA student activists have decided to fight the resolution themselves.
After the preliminary October 13 vote, several students including junior Matan Kogen and senior Lindsay Biebelberg took to Facebook using #thingsthatarentconnected; a hashtag meant to condemn UNESCO for implying that the Jews have no connection to their most sacred place. Some students, including Weiss, signed a petition asking UNESCO to acknowledge the Jewish claim to the Temple Mount. A few have drafted their own statements against the resolution or have spoken out in other ways.
The debate over Occupied Palestine remains contentious and has generated more media coverage than any other recent UNESCO resolution has. GOA students have taken the resolution to heart and are working against it using the historical knowledge and communication skills they developed at school. Though their voices may be small amidst those of global leaders, these students have made their views clear: the UN will always be held accountable for its discrimination, ignorance and inaccurate facts.

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Doing Your Due Diligence

Nina Robins ‘19

Mandatory army service is a familiar and generally welcomed concept in most Israeli households. In a process similar to American college applications, Israeli teenagers test for different military skills, complete preference questionnaires, are reevaluated several times, perhaps appeal to higher units and are finally placed into ideal roles. Although strenuous, this process is usually a given.
Israeli teenagers enter the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) with a deeply fostered patriotism.
“I pay taxes and I go to the army,” Roni Golan, one of this year’s Rishonim, said. “It’s a phrase… I think it’s a national responsibility for the simple reason that there’s no option.”
Many Israeli teenagers, including Golan, believe that Israel’s relationship with its citizens is reciprocal.
“You receive things from the country, like defense, specific things that the government and country give you,” she said. “I think on the simplest level that you can’t just receive without giving.”
These teenagers and others believe that Israel is dependent on the protection provided by its citizens in the military.
“With the stabbings happening since last year, many of them have taken place in Tel Aviv, where my brother lives, and a shooting in the Sarona Market,” senior Mikayla Talmud, whose brothers served in the IDF, said. “These occurrences are more often than we would like to believe.”        Some soldiers are also inspired to secure Israel not only as a sovereign state, but as a religious homeland.
“I think that being Jewish is very special,” senior Nadav Aronoff said, whose brother is currently a paratrooper. “Being that there is only one Jewish state, we must do everything we can to protect it.”
Some people, however, are not subject to the draft. For the moment, sects of ultra Orthodox Jews, such as Haredim, are some of the only groups exempt from mandatory army service. These groups consider Talmudic studies a benefit to Israel as the center of Judaism, but do not necessarily believe in Israel’s political sovereignty.
“Many religious Zionists would say that the only reason Israel has been allowed to exist is because of the amount of Torah learning that goes on in Israel,” sophomore Eitan Szteinbaum said. “If that just diminished, and you sent [all the yeshiva students] to the IDF, Israel would just collapse.”
Critics of this exception argue that the opportunity to study is always present after service, but Szteinbaum offered a retort.
“In the yeshiva lifestyle, they’re learning every day, every year. It doesn’t end.”
However, there is a compromise in place. Certain units of the IDF are designated specifically for Haredim, where Torah study and national service complement each other. Golan’s brother served as the commander of such a unit.
“When I went to the ceremony, they had beards and peis, which was really impressive to see,” Golan said. “They found a way to combine their beliefs with their duty to the country and that it could and [does] happen.”
Besides religious Jews, most Arab and Muslim Israelis are exempt from the draft.
“The Israeli government doesn’t want to force them to fight their friends and brothers living in Muslim nations or in the Palestinian territories,” senior Kim Robins said. “It would create a conflict of interest and make military operations much more complicated.”
However, some Arab and Muslim Israelis volunteer to serve in the IDF, such as the Bedouins who often serve as navigators in the desolate desert.
While most Israelis are willing to fight for their country, some fight for the right to stay home instead.
“Israeli society is still really divided over the issue of the draft,” Robins said, “but people are starting to come together and instead of fighting one another, are getting ready to fight bigger enemies.”

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A Taste of Israel

Etai Barash ‘18

Defining “Israeli food” is extremely difficult, as it is an extremely diverse and multicultural cuisine. From the Middle East to Eastern Europe and to the Iberian Peninsula, Israeli food encompasses many different regions, drawing influence from diverse cultures and histories. Jews from over 80 different countries help impact what is known today as Israeli food.
Not only is Israeli food extremely diverse, but it is also innovative. In the early years of Israel, food was scarce as the main focus of the young state was protecting itself from its surrounding Arab enemies. Ptitim, for example, also known as Ben Gurion Rice or Israeli Couscous, is a rice substitute made from wheat which first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, created during the food shortages.
Innovative Jewish foods do not stop there. The Ashkenazi Jews, those of Eastern Europe, substituted turkey for the traditional chicken in their schnitzel dishes when chicken was scarce. Additionally, many Ashkenazi dishes eaten today reflect the cold climate in which they lived, such as fish, soups and stews, further contributing to the tapestry of Israeli cuisine.
Sephardic Jews, those of Spanish and Portuguese descent, bring vibrant flavors to Israeli food, incorporating spices of the Iberian peninsula in their dishes. These spices include cumin, cilantro and turmeric.
Similar to Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, those from the Middle East, bring flavors shaped by their original environment. Their dishes are simple, yet intricate, incorporating basic ingredients with robust combinations of spices. These dishes include meat stuffed kibbeh and shakshuka – a popular breakfast option made with eggs in tomato sauce with chilli peppers, onions and Middle Eastern spices.
Not all Israeli foods are family recipes, however. Israel, just like the rest of the world, has its fair share of modern desserts and tasty snacks. Bamba peanut butter doodles, Krembo and Milki – chocolate pudding with whipped cream –  are just a few of the most popular and unique Israeli snacks.
Even more popular than these treats are Israel’s unofficial national foods: shawarma and falafel. On almost every street of Tel Aviv you can find a falafel or shawarma stand. These two foods are staples of Israeli society.
In Israel, there is conflict over the origins of falafel between Palestinians and Israelis. Some Palestinians say that Israel has “stolen” falafel from them, claiming that it was originally a Palestinian food.
This is simply a microcosm of the problem at hand today. Israeli and Palestinian cultures are so intertwined and similar as they live so close together, yet they cannot obtain peace on even such a simple topic.
Because Israel is such a small country, many of its ingredients are sourced locally. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available at supermarkets, restaurants and local markets known as shuks. It is very rare to come across an Israeli meal that does not have fresh fruits or vegetables in it.
Additionally, the dairy products produced in Israel are of high-quality, as the animals producing them are taken care of and the products they produce are fresh and delicious. One hundred twenty five thousand cows on 824 farms make up the Israeli dairy herd and each cow produces an annual average of 12,083 kg of milk. The fresh ingredients of Israel leads to a much tastier array of foods.
Because of this high-quality, healthy diet, Israelis are some of the healthiest people in the world. They have the longest life expectancy of all of the Middle East and Africa, and the 13th longest globally.
Israeli food is a way for the diverse Israeli society to express itself. Each individual living in Israel can find his or her favorite food regardless of religion, gender, social standing, or age.

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Do We Want Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?

Sophie Goldman ‘19

This month, longtime fans of the Harry Potter series will be treated to something they always hope for but never dare to expect: a return to the wizarding world in the form of a new movie. While many are ecstatic that they are being given another opening into the wizarding world, some wonder why a story completely unrelated to the characters or events of the original series needs to be told.  
The movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is actually based on a textbook used by students at Hogwarts in the original Harry Potter series rather than the plotline of the previous eight films.
Fans will be taken back to 1920s New York City, a very different setting compared to other movies in the series. The new protagonist is Newt Scamander, a collector of magical creatures. However, after many of his beasts escape into the muggle world, conflict ensues, heightened by already tense relations between wizards and muggles, or non-wizards.
Junior Sam Lurie is excited about the film, but has gripes about its existence.
“I am excited for the movie, but I don’t see why it needs to come out,” he said. “I love the Harry Potter books and movies but they had an excellent conclusion. I am worried that J. K. Rowling is simply trying to milk the Harry Potter cash cow and does not have a real story to tell.”   
Fellow Junior Theo Deitz-Green said he is always captivated by Rowling’s world.
“If you put aside the fact that magic doesn't exist,” he said, :you could actually imagine a world functioning like the world of Harry Potter does. But [Rowling] only gave us a glimpse of a specific time and place in that world and left us wondering about magic in other times and places.”
Deitz-Green added that he always wanted to know more about wizard-muggle relations and hopes this movie will give viewers a new angle into this magical world.
“Do wizards ever exert influence on muggle events?” he asked. “For instance, if it is clear to them that muggles are about to do something really stupid or even harmful, will they step in, do a few simple spells and change the course of muggle history for the better?”
Junior Dina Doctoroff  agrees with Deitz-Green. She said that even though the Harry Potter world has already expanded into seven books and eight movies, the story only covers magical life in a small part of Britain. She wonders how the the culture of magic in Britain differs with the rest of the world.
While some fans are skeptical of this movie and view it simply as a means to make money, the majority of fans are excited to see different aspects of the wizarding world: magic in a different time, magic in a different place and the relationships between muggles and wizards. And of course, fans are excited for a return to the Harry Potter world and a new, exciting magical adventure that will always be there to welcome them home.

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Diversity in Entertainment: Where Can We Go From Here?

Aviva Kamens ‘17

Movie enthusiasts around the country watched earnestly on January 14, 2016 as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 88th annual Academy Awards. Some of the nominees were far from surprising, but what was surprising was who was not nominated for the second year in a row: actors, directors and screenwriters of color.
Movies like Straight Outta Compton, Creed and The Hateful Eight all had important people of color involved in their production, yet they were not nominated. Even more enraging, the white screenwriters for Straight Outta Compton were nominated for Best Original Screenplay, though none of the black actors were nominated, nor was the black director.
Theater enthusiasts watched in earnest as the nominees for the Tony Awards were announced on May 3, 2016. One of the most unique things about that day was that 17 people of color were nominated for awards as actors, designer, and members of the creative team.  
The nominations and resulting awards ceremonies of the Oscars and Tonys couldn’t have gone more differently. While the Oscars chose to only focus on the achievements of whites for the second year in a row, the Tonys recognized the achievements of all people. But while the Oscars may have reached a record low point, it’s possible that the Tonys have also reached a peak. After all, the 2015-2016 Broadway season featured a significant number of shows with casts that were almost entirely made up of people of color, including Hamilton, On Your Feet!, Eclipsed and Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. It will be incredibly difficult for the current Broadway season to measure up to that standard. This leaves the Tonys and the Oscars with opposite problems: the Oscars need to increase its diversity and the Tonys need to maintain its diversity.
The Academy likely needs to reevaluate how they determine nominees. It has over 6,000 voters, but each only votes on the categories in his or her own branch. Actors only vote in the Best Actor categories, directors only vote for Best Direction and so on. The problem is not how the voting occurs, but the voters. Seventy six percent of the voters are male, 94 percent are white and the average age is 63 years old. Many of them are years removed from being active working members of the film industry.
The one aspect of the situation that gives us hope for the future is the response of the President of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs. She released a statement, initially on Twitter, that acknowledged both the accomplishments of this year’s nominees and the need for the Oscars to diversify their voting and membership base.
“[W]e have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years,” Isaacs said. “But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”
Isaacs also added that she would “conduct a review of [their] membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”
The challenge for the American Theater Wing, the organization that hands out the Tonys, may be even more difficult. Broadway has always been more advanced than much of the rest of the entertainment industry on controversial issues – they were the first to embrace the LGBT community with open arms following the AIDS scare in the 1980s – so it makes sense that they would be one step ahead of the movies on the diversity scale.
To continue this trend, they need to do something that the industry has been doing all along: push boundaries. The theater world has become skilled at presenting shows that call for large casts of people of color. However, theater needs to make roles that weren’t written with any specific race in mind and allow people of color to shine in those as well.  
If film and theater do change for the better, we can hopefully one day live in a world where people of color star in movies and plays and are awarded for their work, without it being a breaking news story.

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