Young Generation Displays Next Century Entrepreneurship

By Laurel Fairworth

Judgement Day is coming June 5, 2017, for a group of local students. A trio of well known experts will decide which of the two dozen students involved in the Eitanim leadership building program, a national program with 17 groups across the US, has created a unique way to capture the past while looking ahead to the future of Israel. The Israeli American Council sponsored program is especially timely now in light of recent anti-Israeli sentiment. The judges have all demonstrated they have the right stuff, excelling in various businesses. Ami Miron, who was very successful in the public sector, says he is looking for innovation and the wow factor. “Technology is the tool to create bridges and connect the Israeli and Jewish communities. That is what I am looking for in these student projects,” explained Miron.

Ninth through twelfth graders at Barrack Hebrew Academy and various high schools in the Greater Philadelphia area were challenged during this seven month project to think outside the box. They were asked to innovate with the hope they would find a deeper connection with the Holy Land. Since September, the kids have been putting long hours into their inventions. Liat Dorani says she has been surprised about what she discovered. “Eitanim has been an amazing way for me to understand people I normally think I don’t have any similarities with. I got to learn there that these teenagers are the same as me, living and breathing pride in their Judaism and their pride in the state of Israel,” said Dorani. Fifty percent of the students are Israeli-Americans the other half are Jewish-Americans.

Tasked with developing unique ways to showcase modern Israel while honoring our collective past the teens benefited from the advice and guidance of mentors such as Shai Shermister. He rose to prominence at SAP and was in turn surprised about what he got back from the experience. He is looking forward to seeing the students’ finished products.

Students say they have developed a deep appreciation for those who preceded them and all things Israeli, and an unexpected friendship with each other. The idea for this exercise was that it would hone skills and help the group excel when they go to college.

The public is invited to view and try out the students’ creations on June 5, 2017, at Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Please RSVP to sharonad@israeliamerican.org

Gap Year in Israel: Acco is like a Bowl of Hummus

— by Ivan Levingston

I love living in Acco. The city is a true crossroads, a blend of ancient and new architecture, Arab and Jewish culture, all situated on the Mediterranean coast. Teaching English and volunteering with kids here during the day and falling asleep in my beach-front apartment with my fellow volunteers every night has so far made for an amazing gap year. We came here as part of Tzofim Ma’ase Olam. The true beauty of Acco is that even though it is an internationally recognized UNESCO World Heritage city, it still remains a humble place full of good people. No place better embodies the ethos of Acco than my favorite spot in the city, the famous Hummus Said (SA-eed) restaurant.

More after the jump.
Although known throughout Israel as the tastiest hummus, Hummus Said has only three items on the menu. Whether you want plain hummus, or hummus with beans (ful), or a chunky chick-pea and tahini mixture (meshousha), or any combination of the three, it will only cost you 15 NIS (about 4 dollars). The unlimited refills of hummus, pita, Turkish coffee and tea all combine to make it a dream come true for hungry teenagers on a volunteer budget. The speedy service and simple décor are all representative of Acco’s no-frills feel.

For one-time visitors, that might be enough, but as a frequent (too frequent, some might say) patron, what keeps me coming back is the atmosphere. Despite the hundreds of customers that pass through Said every week, I feel important there. The waiters always make sure to hug or high-five me when I come in and ask how I’m doing. They’ll joke about my friend’s recent haircut or how weak our handshakes are, ask how we’ve been, and then guide us to our table. While we wait to order, we might ask Neezar to translate a word into Arabic for us, or ask him how his guitar-playing is going. Wherever I sit in the restaurant, it’s a guarantee that Adham will wait on my table and bring me my usual without even letting me order. After a hearty bowl or two of hummus and some Arabic tea, my friends and I say goodbye and leave, always leaving a trail of baffled Israelis who wonder how these American 19-year-olds are such good friends with the Arab waiters of the famous Hummus Said.

As my friends and I walk back along the beach, pausing to sit on the ancient walls overlooking the sea and let the massive quantities of hummus we have just inhaled settle, I feel so fortunate to be living in this historic and beautiful city that cares about me as much as I care about it.

Ivan Levingston is a 19-year old who was born in New York City and grew up in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. After graduating from Barrack Hebrew Academy, he decided to spend this current year volunteering as part of the Ma’ase Olam-Tzofim gap year program in Acco. Ivan is enrolled at Harvard University.