We left Jerusalem down the road that according to our bus guide serves as part of a green line since 1967. Our entire journey down the country towards Sderot we pass beautiful fields of agriculture. A few fighter jets happen to fly back and forth over the fields. As I speak for hours off and on with my new friend Alana about her life in South Africa I realize that one of the most extraordinary gifts of this MFA program is a new global network of Jewish friends.
Born in Zimbabwe, Alana and her family moved to South Africa when she was younger but her Uncle, a civil rights attorney, remains as one of the 200 Jews remaining in Zimbabwe (since a peak of 7,500 Jewish residents in the 1970’s). Alana has grown up in mostly Post-Apartheid South Africa and now works with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
We had a lot to talk about while we passed by the infamous security fence as we share the experience of so many people in both of our communities using the rhetoric often associated with Apartheid to describe their experience of Israel. We were able to really talk about what this means to us personally and professionally. As I have never been to South Africa this conversation with Alana, a self-described Religious woman that is so focused on Tikkun Olam within her everyday life, was incredibly rewarding to me. We spoke about how we see this tour, how we understand Zionism and how we feel about the security fence we were passing all from this complicated lens. I hope that this conversation between us will continue after the tour because I know at least for me that it will take a few lifetimes to try and reconcile my experiences and feelings on these subjects.
Take a look at the rest of the groups photos of Day Four on the Israel Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Seminar that includes updated photos of our visit with President Shimon Peres, our meeting and tour with the Mayor of Sderot, Mr. David Buskila, lunch with Bahatzer Shel Ora on the 50-year-old Moshav Kfar Maimon and our overnight stay at Kibbutz Yahel via Sde Boker.