IMG_9993More than 100 campers from Machon, Bogrim, and Tikvah took a deep dive Sunday and Monday into exploring Israel religious “status quo,” the agreement dating back to 1947 that shapes the role of religion in nearly every aspect of public life in the country. Each year, older campers experience an immersive daylong simulation program designed to help them gain greater understanding of key aspects of Israeli life and history. This year, the theme was religious pluralism, and the program began Sunday night with a 1947 town hall meeting, chaired by “David Ben-Gurion,” in which campers expressed views about the proper role for religion in the soon-to-be-born State of Israel. Camper-delegates engaged passionately for nearly an hour, with one crying out that, after the Holocaust, “We don’t need a half-full cup, we need at least five cups!”

IMG_9960Once they understood how the historic compromise between the Labor Zionists and the haredi Agudat Israel party came to pass, campers were ready to assume a variety of identities on Monday morning. Working as Labor Zionists, haredim, religious Zionists, American Jews, Conservative Jews, egalitarian Jews, secular Jews, and others, they completed a series of challenges that included attempting to get married in Israel and visiting the Western Wall.

By the end of the day, campers had a new and greater understanding of the complex relationship between religion and state in Israel, and many were expressing deep and interesting thoughts about how the “status quo” agreement impacts their own lives today. Kol HaKavod to Machon, Bogrim and Tikvah staff and educator-in-residence Carl Schrag for coordinating the experience!