“There were people who saw us and said – you are like a group of the United Nations and I suppose we looked strange as we walked together down the street both because of our different dress and appearance and because we laughed together and it was clear that we greatly enjoyed working together. “Example of “op art”, artist: Victor Vasarly
19 people from 9 countries: Zambia, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru,Haiti, Mongolia and Israel, were chosen this year to participate in the “Ford Motor Company International Fellowship of 92ndStreet Y.” Rabbi Idit Lev was one of them. The course was organized by 92ndstreet Y, sponsored by the international car manufacturer Ford Motor Company . Read the summary of this fascinating journey.
I was invited to attend an intensive course of three and a half weeks in New York. We dealt with different topics connected to running an organization: planning strategy, personnel management, fund-raising, publicity, etc. During our lessons at Columbia University,we met representatives of different organizations (whom the organizers thought we could learn from).
From Dream to Reality
We studied models of dealing with different problems, and also about the problems of civil society in New York. At the “Doe Fund” we heard about the way a dream becomes reality. We were advised not to give up on our dreams, to respect everyone, to take chances and to build an organization that has a sound economic base. We learned about the problems of those who live on the street in New York and how they cope with this.
At “God’s Love We Deliver” we received an amazing lesson about the activities of volunteers feeding the needy, and we learned about nutrition problems among the New York poor.
In discussions during the meetings, lessons and, of course, before and after the activities, I learned much about what happens in other countries. I learned that each of us has different ways of coping. And when I found out about ways of coping that were different from mine, they seemed harder to me, while my ways of coping seemed difficult to others. I learned that there is so much in common between people of different cultures, different ages (from 26-72), and so much to learn from each other.
A Rare Discourse Space
One of the things that amazed me during these weeks was our ability to listen to each other – not to interrupt in the middle of a sentence, not to assume one knew the answer to a question – to listen and to react to what was said. Although we had never met before (and I do not know who or when I will meet again), we had real and wide-ranging discussions, honest and respectful. I am not used to such extensive cooperation.
There were people who saw us and said – you are like a group of the United Nations, and I suppose we looked strange as we walked together down the street, partly because our dress and appearance was different and also because we laughed together and it was clear that we enjoyed working together. We learned a lot, we laughed a lot, we were a little spoiled on our trip to Michigan where we were hosted by the sponsor of this course, the Ford Motor Company.
It was such a deep and meaningful experience that it is difficult for me to appreciate it as I write this, as I am still too close to it. I feel that I am looking at the world through new glasses, more sharply. I think that I can do a better job with my organization and with those circles that I want to influence. Furthermore, I gained good friends from all over the world.
On our second Friday, we went to a Jewish family who are connected to 92Y. The opening melody of the Kiddush“Shalom Aleichem Malachei Hashalom” (you are welcome angel of peace) had an effect on our group, and for me the lyrics represent our group. This time was the time of the angels for me. We came in peace, greeted each other and shared our knowledge. Finally, we separated and each returned home. We left strengthened in the hope that we could expand our activities and our influence, and that the day would come when we would all meet together again.