13TH GRADE: Basketball and learning: An Israel experience

Jacob Moskowitz, BP Emeritus

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There’s a lot going on here at Nativ. Different things happen every day, and each and every little detail added up makes the experience what it is –amazing. Therefore, telling you a few highlights is the easiest way to go.

Pretty much every day during the week is the same. Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday I have class from 8:45 in the morning until 6:15 at night, with a one and a half hour break in the middle for lunch. On Thursdays, I have class from 8:45 until 2:45, and on Tuesdays I only have class from 3:30 until 6:15. Since I joined the gym about a month and a half ago, I have been working out pretty much every day. But my big days are Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I don’t have much class. I generally work out for about an hour and a half to two hours on those days. The other two days, I just do light stuff at the gym.

Every night is different here. We have great activities almost every night, like basketball on Sundays and Erev Nativ on Tuesdays. The NBA (Nativ Basketball Association), as we call it here, takes place every Sunday night at a park nearby. We have a league set up of only Nativers, five teams of four. People keep stats of the games, and we have league leaders in about seven categories, from points per game to three-point percentage. It is a lot of fun and very competitive.

Erev Nativ is something different every night. It is mandatory for everyone, and we usually have an interesting speaker about Judaism come speak to us or we watch an interesting, sometimes Israeli, movie. Last week’s Erev Nativ was maybe the most interesting speech I have ever heard. A man named Mitch Goldman came all the way from New York to speak to us about Jews For Judaism. He claimed to be a Messianic Jew, and began trying to convert us to Messianic Judaism. He spoke about how the Bible says that Jesus is actually the Messiah. At the end, he said that G-d spoke to him and that he knew that two out of the 80 Nativers present would convert to Messianic Judaism by the end of the year. Then he left. Everybody was freaking out, and Yossi, the director of Nativ, proceeded to apologize to us for bring in this speaker. Yossi then introduces a new speaker, Rabbi Tuvia Singer, an American Jew who moved to Israel and now has his own radio show against Jews for Judaism. The man walks in, and it’s the same person who just spoke; Mitch Goldman and Tuvia Singer were the same person. Well, actually, Tuvia was just pretending to proselytize as a Messianic Jew. Everyone was really freaking out then, and I had no idea what to do. It was a very odd experience, especially when he proceeded to explain to us how to combat these Jews for Jesus proselytizers.

Another experience I had was my weekend in Haifa. Since pretty much every day during the week is the same, weekends are my chance to explore the country or do something fun, or both. I spent the weekend at my friend’s house in Haifa about a month ago. It was a lot of fun, and I had great home-cooked food for the first time in a long time. I didn’t get to see the city much, but hopefully next time I visit him I will have a chance to walk (or drive) around the city and explore.

Last weekend, I went to Kibbutz Sa’ad, a kibbutz in the south near Gaza. My friend Meir’s brother lives there during his weekends off from the army. I had a great time just hanging out with Meir and his brother and meeting many new people, all while trying to understand all the Hebrew around me. It was a little challenging, but a lot of fun.

Those are pretty much the highlights of the past month. I miss you all.

Jacob Moskowitz ‘09 is spending his “gap year” at Nativ, a 9-month program in Israel that pairs university level academics with Judaic studies while giving students the opportunity to explore Israel and build leadership skills. He wrote this in November 2009.

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