We started today off by meeting with a speaker from IGY (Israeli Gay Youth), with whom we discussed how LGBTQ rights have progressed in Israel. We asked our speaker about what life in the army is like for LGBTQ youth and the strides that have been made to create a more inclusive environment. After that we headed into South Tel Aviv, to experience life in a poorer part of the country. We walked around the neighborhood with our tour guide, and learned about how South Tel Aviv was originally intended to be an all-Jewish area. Unfortunately, because of gentrification by the upper class, the town has deteriorated into a desolate area where only 10% of its residents are Jewish. We ended the our tour on a high note by visiting a small local library with books in a multitude of languages. Following the tour, we participated in a study of texts from the Torah and from Jewish leaders and politicians. We discussed what being Jewish means, and the way Judaism influences how we treat strangers and immigrants.
By the time we finished our discussion we were all famished, so we headed over to the Tel Aviv shuk (market) to have lunch and buy more “Israel pants” than any of us could ever need. From the shuk we walked to Independence Hall. We arrived at the historical site drenched with sweat and were grateful for the air conditioned comfort. We listened to a speaker describe the formation of Israel and the events surrounding the creation of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. This was followed by a succinct video, summing up the previously illustrated events. After the movie, we stood on the steps to Independence Hall and reluctantly filmed a portion of our camp dance, much to the amusement of many onlookers.
We then walked to a playground in Florentine Tel Aviv, where we broke up into two groups for a graffiti tour. On the tour we explored the town, and learned to appreciate the art created by local graffiti artists. We discussed whether graffiti is art or vandalism, and have yet to come to a consensus on the topic. It was eye opening to see the unique way these artists express their feelings about topics ranging from local parties to their own neighborhood. The tour was followed by delicious ice cream, which was the perfect energy boost for the walk back to the hotel for dinner and free time.