Literacy and Liberty

Media in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 4:32 pm
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In any conflict, the role of the media (both domestic and international) serves as a bridge between the outside world and the people involved in the conflict. The long standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the subject of extensive international scrutiny and coverage. This year, the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem was one of the most widely covered events in international politics. I’d like to dive into the role of the international media in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How do factors such as bias, misinformation, and reporting with an agenda factor into international opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?  I want to analyze a variety of sources that depict both an Israeli and a Palestinian perspective. I want to gain a better understanding of the impact of journalism in this conflict. What we write, and how we write has a powerful impact on public opinion. The facts that are included and the narratives that are portrayed from this conflict are so important. As a Jew who has family and friends in Israel, I have a vested interest in understanding this conflict and where it is headed in the future. The role of the media is an essential part of it and I would like to develop my own opinion as well as gain a better understanding of the role of the media as a whole.

Visiting Yad Vashem
Posted by: , October 2, 2018, 6:13 pm
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On my last trip to Israel, we visited Yad Vashem, the memorial site for the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. This was my third time visiting Yad Vashem and as always, it was a very meaningful experience. For me, the most impactful part of my last visit was a recent installation commemorating all of the victims. There was a room filled with a few candles and on all sides, mirrors were placed in order to provide the illusion that there were an unlimited amount of candles spanning into the distance on all sides. The room was pitch black and a recording played in the background reciting the names and ages of each of the victims whose names were recorded in history. I heard my own name several times, along with the names of Jewish kids who were my age when they were brutally murdered. I was overwhelmed with emotion, knowing that their only crime was being Jewish. I felt an obligation to remember them, to pay my respects and appreciate the fact that I was born in a time and place where I can safely live my life as a Jew. My family has its roots in Eastern European countries, the very countries so heavily impacted during World War 2. The very countries where Jews were sold out by their neighbors and sent to concentration camps. It could have been me. Prior to visiting Yad Vashem, it was something I knew as a fact of life, but not something I felt so deeply. The experience was transformative and inspired me to never take a day for granted.

Learning to Read
Posted by: , September 21, 2018, 2:48 pm
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For me, as with most other people, learning to read and write is just something that happened naturally. While my first spoken language was Russian, I wouldn’t say that this was the first language I became truly literate in. In fact, I don’t have strong memories of myself reading books in Russian as I do with English. After kindergarten, I became fluent in English and developed a passion for reading. My earliest memories involve reading the Geronimo Stilton book series during my first grade reading time. Whenever we read books aloud as a class, I was volunteering myself to read.

Something that sticks out in my memory are the Scholastic Book Fairs we used to have at my elementary school from time to time. I used to love walking past all of the tables filled with books and reading blurb after blurb. I would always be one of the last few students at these book fairs and I ended up reading quite a few of the books that I found there. I think that exposing children to books at an early age makes them much more likely to enjoy learning to read and write. Simply instructing them out of monotonous spelling books and reading exercises would never be as effective. I credit my ability to read and write to these early experiences where I was given the opportunity to choose books that I was interested in and wanted to read.

Russian School
Posted by: , September 5, 2018, 1:36 pm
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I used to resent going to Russian school when I was younger. Until around the age of 12, my parents forced me to attend Russian school early every Sunday where I would recite poetry and prose in order to improve my mastery of the Russian language. The names Pushkin and Yesenin brought out a certain discomfort in my mind because I had learned to associate them with rising early on a weekend and being dragged on a 40 minute car ride to listen to poetry for hours. My teacher, an amicable, elderly Russian woman named Sveta, was always very happy to see my cousin and I for our individualized lessons. I remember always being keenly aware of Sveta’s passion for poetry, often times the things she read to us moved her to tears. I was young, and felt uncomfortable with these situations. Who was this woman crying from some words on a page of which I cannot even grasp the full significance? A few months ago, I heard news that Sveta had passed away. It has been a number of years since I had last seen her but her passing caused me to reminisce on those dreaded Russian lessons. They not only improved my language skills, but they imbued me with an appreciation for poetry. Now that I embark on this new journey through college, I am not able to practice my Russian with my family around me. Perhaps, I’ll pick up a few of those poems that Sveta used to teach me.