Israeli kids arrive in Atlanta for ORT Lipson programme


14 January 2008 Israeli kids arrive in Atlanta for ORT Lipson programme A group of eight Israeli teenagers has arrived in Atlanta for a month-long immersion in American-Jewish life under the aegis of the ORT Lipson programme. The Year 8 students are from schools in Kiryat Yam and Haifa which are supported by World ORT through the Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. They were chosen for this trip because they are excellent students, both academically and in their behaviour, said teacher Dalia Shai, of Kiryat Yams Levinson School. They have a lot of motivation to succeed and they are popular among their friends. During their month in Atlanta, the Israelis will attend classes at Greenfield Hebrew Academy and The Epstein School. In addition they will be included in their host families recreational and cultural activities, enjoy tours of local places of interest, and take part in communal activities prepared by ORT America. The annual arrival of the Israel students has become a major fixture of the local Jewish communitys social calendar but serves a critical role in strengthening bonds between Atlantas Jews and the Jewish State. They bring the reality of Israel to people in Atlanta, Ms Leopold said. We read about things in Israel all the time but there are many people here in the community who dont travel to Israel. Its really important to bring them a sense of Israel and the Lipson programme really brings a piece of our culture to us. It is also an opportunity for the Israeli students, most of whom have never been to America before, to be exposed to new ideas, traditions and lifestyles a demonstration of what it means to be a member of the global Jewish community. In addition, the Israelis will use their improved English to tutor younger children in the language back home. Its a great programme, Ms Shai said. It connects Israeli teens with teens in other places and helps them learn to accept different ways of life. That makes them more tolerant, patient and creates a connection between Jewish kids around the world. The experience helps to cultivate leadership qualities. And the kids in Atlanta will be exposed to the fact that Israel is a melting pot just like America. The kids themselves are also looking forward to improving their English but thoughts of home, particularly as fears grow of a second front to the Gaza war opening in the north of the country, are never far away. Its difficult to leave our families in time of war, especially because two years ago we in the north experienced war and we are afraid that it will start in the north again, said Eden, from Kiryat Yam. But Im looking forward to telling people in Atlanta what life in Israel is really like. His classmate, Sapir, added: I have never been to the USA before. In fact this is my first flight. I want to meet new people and tell them about my country and improve my English. But Im afraid of the situation in our country. When in Atlanta I will be concerned about the soldiers and my family. The programme also proves to be a positive way for ORT to reach out into the Atlanta community. Its a true coming together of the community, Ms Leopold said. It becomes like a big community project and ORT gets a lot of recognition from it. Many people have become lay leaders and supporters of ORT through their involvement in hosting children or other aspects of the programme. And were very lucky to have these kids from Israel as ambassadors to tell the people here about how ORT helps their schools and communities. The ORT Lipson International Studies Programme was conceived by Rabbi Steven Ballaban together with former American ORT National Vice President, Nathan I. Lipson. The programme began in 2003 with funding from the ORT Lipson International Studies Programme fund, which was established by Atlantas Lipson family and has attracted generous donations from ORT supporters.