December 22, 2021

Israel Partnership Update: Teens Come Together to Speak… and Eat Pizza

Speak and Pizza is a program Federation supports in our partner community of Ofakim that builds Jewish identity and community among teenagers through monthly gatherings that encourage meaningful conversation about timely topics relating to Jewish history, culture, and world events. The motto is “The pizza on us, the discussion on you.”

On Monday, December 13, more than 100 teens met at the Ofakim Youth Center to discuss Asarah Betevet Fast. (The tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tevet is a minor fast observed from before dawn to nightfall. The fasting is in mourning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II. According to the Jewish tradition, the second temple in Jerusalem was destroyed because of sinat chinam, baseless hatred of one another. In every generation the Jewish people are called upon to rectify this by practicing ahavat chinam, loving others freely without judgement.) The teens were prompted to discuss ahavat chinam. Do we need to love always? Are there conditions for loving other people?

The teens watched an amazing movie called Agadat Horban, which tells the story of what had initially started out as a Jewish revolt against the Roman occupation but quickly turned into a fierce civil war. The combination of religious messianic zeal and the friction between social classes proved disastrous and resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

One of the teens commented, “The meeting was really fascinating, we talked about the film and the lessons we learned from it… I did not know that this was how the temple was destroyed… We were so drawn in by the film and it was so interesting that we did not notice an hour and a half passed! Speak and Pizza teaches me a lot. It gives us a connection with different groups in the city that we do not usually meet with. It is enriching, interesting, and really fun to come again and again.”