Sderot house damage 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
More than three dozen students from Israel, Italy, France, Moldova and Belarus have spent this week in London at World ORT's Rosner English Summer School.
A full program of English language study - as well as scientific, cultural and social activities - was available to the 15-to-17-year-old students. The Israeli attendees included students from two high schools who faced rocket attacks from Gaza. Israeli children from the Druse village of Hurfeish as well as Jewish, Arab Christians and Muslims from the multicultural Kadoorie Agricultural High School in the Galilee, also joined the program.
The students were chosen by their schools for their leadership skills, educational achievements and commitment to volunteer projects. Many were from disadvantaged backgrounds and this was their first opportunity to travel abroad.
The program included a meeting with Jewish community leaders, a visit to the Globe Theatre, a tour of the BBC studios and visits to the Science Museum and Jewish Museum.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the group. Chief executive Jon Benjamin spoke to the group about the British Jewish community and the contrasts between Jewish life inside and outside Israel. "It is inspiring to meet such a mixed group of students and teachers interacting with each other in such a relaxed way. It is a testament to the ORT credo and also that of the Israeli educational system, with young people from all backgrounds coming together to learn about each other and to encourage continued engagement between diverse communities," he said.
Raanen Odeh, an Israeli Arab teacher of Engilsh from Hurfeish, was one of the leaders of the group. Offering praise for the program for presenting the multi-cultural nature of Israeli society, he said: "I would never want to live anywhere other than Israel."
Jwan Morad, a 16-year-old Druse student from Hurfeish, one of 30 campuses benefiting from World ORT's $7.4 million Kadima Mada program to raise the level of science and technology teaching, said: "This is the first time in a long time that I can leave all the definitions of being Israeli, Arab or Druse behind, and can just be a human being among others. During this trip I came to know new places and met other people from different cultures. I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me."
The expansion of this year's Summer School, this their biggest year, was made possible due to the generosity of British ORT supporters, the UK-based Joseph Trust and the program's inspiration, Jenny Rosner.