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(Story reprinted with permission from Partnership2Gether. See original story here.)

On the morning of Remembrance Day a group of teens from Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School in St. Louis were hosted in Megiddo Regional High School together with their friends from Memphis and Virginia.  The teen mission arrived in Israel as part of the traditional bar mitzvah trip organized by the school each year for its eighth graders.  The students of the mission were hosted by their 8th grade counterparts in Megiddo.

The encounter began with all of the teens attending the Remembrance Day ceremony conducted by the school in Ein HaShofet regional auditorium.  When the ceremony was over, the group split up into four mixed groups of Americans and Israelis who engaged in icebreaker activities and games led by the Israeli hosts.

After the sounding of the siren (two minutes of silence to honor the dead) the students set out for a tour in two groups—one visited nearby kibbutz Ein HaShofet and the other toured the entire school as well as the ecological farm.  After about an hour the two groups switched places.  To cap off this stirring and enriching visit, the students organized themselves into teams and played a friendly game of basketball on the school court.

During the encounter all of the students learned to better understand their overseas friends.  They were able to consider the diverse implications of Remembrance Day and Yom Ha’atzmaut for both Israelis and Americans.

One of the significant aspects of this day, as mentioned by the Israeli and American teachers, is that past experience shows that these types of visits are a powerful experience for both sides:  The connections that form here within a few hours are preserved for years.