Comments made by participants, either verbally or by email, after seminars with the International Department:
“Today we all learned so much about the complex issues concerning Israeli-Arabs/Palestinians, which was only possible through the extensive knowledge and clear passion for informal education found at Givat Haviva. We all appreciated the inspiring Givat Haviva message of enacting change – it is one that we will take with us for the rest of our year here in Israel, and hopefully beyond.”
Harrison Engler, Habonim-Dror participant from Manchester, England
"Thank you so much for the tour this afternoon. Textbooks and newspaper articles just don't do this stuff justice, and I think you did an incredible job with our group, presenting to us the fractured but beautiful mosaic of Israel and Palestine that could one day be framed in peace. The impact of intense proximity has quickly become an important theme of this trip. Seeing this and the actual topography firsthand, and hearing the fascinating story of both conflict and hope help me immensely as I develop a greater lens for the issues today. As you say, we must continue to seek peace, and with people like you (and eventually all of us) building a community of togetherness, I'm certainly hopeful for the future."
Scott Martin, Birthright participant
"Thank you so much for giving our birthright bus such a meaningful, approachable, and deeply human introduction to the complex situation of borders in the West Bank and Israel. The work that you and Givat Haviva embark upon day after day, fueled by relentless hope and admirable commitment to a better world is truly inspiring. As Americans living so far away from the complexity of this conflict, it is easy to become overwhelmed and lose any grasp of reality here. Your session today felt so grounding, like I have a better sense of just how complicated and unanswerable the questions facing this land are, but how truly vital it is to remain committed to the pursuit of peace."
Gabi Wachs, Birthright participant
"I am afraid I must contradict the guy from Jerusalem who told you that your work wasn´t “sexy” enough. I and the whole group had a thrilling day and I am convinced that everyone who is interested in the conflict would like what we did today. As you predicted, it was very confusing, but we have also learnt a lot."
Henri Weindel, Participant of Youth Unravels Crisis – Understanding Palestine
“It is always enlightening and invigorating to visit Givat Haviva. I have brought more than a dozen groups for seminars and tours of the surrounding areas, and each time I learn more. At Givat Haviva, my students learn the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, and gain a comprehensive grasp on the subject by visiting the town of Barta’a. My students return to North American universities and advocate much more effectively for Israel because of this experience. Thank you to the professional and passionate team at Givat Haviva for your important and unique mission!”
Natalie Menaged, Director of Recruitment & Admissions, The Israel Experience at Bar-Ilan University (religious university in Israel), and National Director of the Hasbara Fellowships in America from 2006-2011
“In larger retrospect, it has been very important to visit Givat Haviva as it broadend the view on the issue. Most student wished afterwords to have more appointments in Israel and disovering the Israeli society in order to have a full understanding of the internal conflicts and how those might hinder progress. I think this is a great sign.
Our students were able to gain a much deeper understanding and will carry their impressions to their home countries. This is a great success.”
Marlene Strasser, Project Manager, Youth Unravels Crisis
“I was one of the participants of the British Birthright group who came to visit a couple of weeks ago. The short time with you has left a great imprint upon my trip here, a very positive one at that. We were all incredibly moved and appreciative of what you showed and told us, you tell it like it is. For most of us you were the best part of the trip, and I would really love to learn more.”
Hannah, Birthright participant
"Coming to visit Givat Haviva was an important and educational experience for both of us. Lydia gave us a detailed understanding of the basic history of what is now the State of Israel and the surrounding area. Her lecture was informative and hearing about the different programs that Givat Haviva offers was really inspiring.
The Givat Haviva campus is beautiful, the Art Center and Peace Gallery as well as the art work around the campus enlivened the vision and brought hope to the complicated conflict at hand."
Aiyana and Narieka Levine, USA
“I have started to conduct feedback from all the Tour & Birthright madrichim, and Givat Haviva has got glowing feedback throughout. Thank you for all your hard work and for fitting us in last minute and for our 3 Jewish Telegraph articles!”
Cassie, Birthright Coordinator & Israel Engagement Support and Development Assistant, UJIA, UK.
“This is the second year that I have brought a group of graduate students from the Davidson School of Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary for a half-day seminar with Lydia Aisenberg at Givat Haviva. On each occasion, the seminar raised important questions for the students. It succeeded in touching on the complexities of the issues in a very short space of time, without falling into the trap of simplification, and simultaneously leaving students feeling that there was an enormous amount that they still didn't know. That's a very difficult balance to navigate. I would recommend this seminar to anyone and will certainly be doing it again.”
Dr Alex Sinclair
Director of Programs in Israel Education
Kesher Hadash - Transforming Israel Education
Davidson School of Education, Jewish Theological Seminary
It was so wonderful to meet and learn from you during the Hornstein Programs' tour of Givat Haviva and Barta'a.
“I wished to share with you that I felt that this tour was one of the most (if not THE most) meaningful experiences I have had in all my visits to Israel. As a Jewish professional in the U.S. it is often hard to articulate that many Arabs, both Israeli and other, only want to live life, be safe, and earn a living for their families. Walking through Barta'a and across the Green Line was a profoundly eye opening experience. Being able to tell people what I saw and the conversations we had will be a wonderful asset in my professional tool kit. I will be telling my friends, family, and colleagues what an amazing experience it was to walk and learn for a while with you.I wish you much luck with your work and hope that we can all see with your perspective one day. All the best, Dani.”
Daniel Shulman - Brandeis University student
“I can’t thank you enough for sharing your time, experiences, and wisdom with us. What a gift! Our group continues to reflect on a very meaningful experience with you in Barta’a and Givat Haviva. I’m most grateful.”
Aaron Tyler, PhD
Chair, Graduate International Relations Department
St. Mary’s University, One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, Texas 78228
British students who attended a 2-day Kibbutz Volunteer Seminar at Givat Haviva …
Haf: “The seminar was a great experience with such a diverse and energetic group of people. It was such an incredible experience not only to hear about the complexities of everyday life first-hand but also to visit locations where these complexities are so visible, with such a lovely group of people.”
Zach: “I felt the seminar was incredibly informative. Throughout my travels in Israel, there was nothing that depicted the reality of Israeli and Palestinian lifestyles in such an eye-opening manner. When it came to truly understanding the culture, tradition, and political ideals of the area, this seminar most definitely takes the cake.”
“I just wanted to sincerely thank you on behalf of HDUK for this afternoon's sensational session at Givat Haviva. The chanichim were genuinely inspired by the content of yours and Mohammed's words and I am so pleased that Habonim Dror and Givat Haviva are building a strong relationship for the present and the future.
I am fully committed to including Givat Haviva into the schedule for the next Israel Tour.
Best Wishes, Jamie Herman, Habonim-Dror, UK.”
“The seminar with you accompanied our thoughts the whole trip and the students emphasized that this was an important experience at the beginning of our two weeks in Israel. As teachers-to-be, they said, that they now can be more authentic when dealing with the conflict.
Thank you again for everything in the name of us all with warm wishes, respect and energy for your indispensable work!
I hope there will be more people like you who could continue Givat Haviva’s work, with more projects and understanding growing with the next generations.
Jenny Vorphal, Potsdam University, Germany
Shalom!! We are back in NY/NJ as of last evening.
It was a really wonderful trip. We all truly enjoyed meeting you at Givat Haviva - it really helped us to better understand the situation and realize some of the multiple complexities. I know, however, that we just barely scratched the surface.
Please keep doing your incredibly important work.
All the best,
The Masch family, New York
Thank you so much for your incredible leadership last week when Steve and I and our congregants visited you at Givat Haviva. There's no question that standing on that hilltop and then walking with you through Barta'a was one of the highlights of our entire trip, and was extremely helpful in expanding our understanding, even if only a little, of an exceedingly complicated situation.
Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, Garden City.