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As I write from the Brussels airport, about to board the second leg of my flight to Israel, my excitement grows for this trip, and for the entire project. This first trip will cover three holidays: Yom haZikaron, Yom ha'Atzmaut, and Shabbat. I have plans to attend events related to the first two in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with some flexibility based on what I discover in the process. Then, I'm heading to Beit Shean in the North for Shabbat, to experience an authentic small-town Sephardi Shabbat observance.

Across all three holidays, I'm approaching my observations with an outlook somewhere between educator and anthropologist. I want to observe and report each element of observance through an objective and unbiased lens, but I also want my findings to be relevant to the North American education community. This is a project with a goal: Not simply to observe the diversity of holiday observance across Israeli society, but to find concrete ways to represent that diversity for North American students (of all ages) and demonstrate the full breadth of cultures, observances, and ethnicities represented in Israeli society. Holiday observance is not the only lens through which to teach that diversity, but it is (hopefully) a simple and effective lens on which to base the initial incarnation of this project.

Thoughts on the project and its structure? Ideas for holiday-related activities that I could observe, or Israelis that I should interview? Please be in touch! This trip is very much a work in progress, and it would benefit from as much real-time feedback as possible. Meanwhile, follow my updates here over the next several days!