Categorized | San Diego County

Enthusiastic HOI lawn program spreads good will

Jim Sherman and Smadar Samson inspect giveaway packages of sunflowers from Israel

Photos and story Sandy Golden

Sandy Golden

Hanna Orr-Ziv displays a tray of borekas

SAN DIEGO — Israeli Scouts from San Diego’s Carmel Valley, miniature plants of sunflower seeds from Israel, a San Diego middle-school student writing names in Hebrew for passers-by, the results of a Dream House Competition begun on “Yom Ha’atzma’ut”, a strolling, Yiddishe minstrel/ accordionist, young children and adults from local Hebrew classes, and groups singing and dancing were among the sights and sounds on and off stage, last  Sunday, May 20, a breathtakingly beautiful weather-perfect day in Balboa Park.

It was the annual Lawn Program for the House of Israel, and in addition to the sights and sounds, there were also tastes and smells abounding.

Outside the HOI, schwarma and Israeli salad, humus and baklava,  from “The Place” were available for purchase, inside a large-green tent-like setting.

Inside, frequent long lines of visitors saw the updated exhibits about modern Israel in the HOI, which was remodeled a year ago. They were drawn to a new aroma —the smell and taste of borechas, a flaky, Israeli pastry which apparently became a hit right away,  along with the ever-favorite latkes, which were also sizzling on the grill.

The HOI had two categories of volunteers, the hosts serving the food, and the docents, who answered questions about  Israel, and discussed the modern Israeli exhibits on display.

As they went in and out of The House of Israel, visitors could not help but notice the walls of pictures. The artists, children and adults had competed in a “What would Your Dream House look like” competition that was begun on Yom Ha’atz ma’ut. Contest winners were selected by Board members the day of the Lawn Program.

This project was so popular, said creator Smadar Samson, that there will be similar competitions regularly in the future.

The strains of the national anthems of America and Israel shifted the scene from The House of Israel  to the stage outside, where many people gathered for the next hour and a half to  enjoy the musical entertainment.

Cara Freedman accompanied on guitar her Performance Troupe of up-beat youngsters from Ner Tamid Synagogue, as they combined singing, dancing, and even some acrobatics on stage. The performance received  spontaneous applause from the enthusiastic audience.

Also enjoyed were the nostalgic and familiar Hebrew and Jewish melodies sung by the Jewish Men’s Choir, “Kol Hakavod” under the direction of Ruth Yannick-Lopez Weber.Many in the audience sang or hummed  along.

As an educator, I was particularly impressed with a variety of skits, dialogues and songs presented by the very young children from the Tarbuton (Israel  Cultural Center) in Hebrew, Spanish and English, prior to the formal program.

Under the direction of Jennie Starr, Tarbuton’s director, classroom teachers had been preparing the children to show their parents and the community what they had learned in their language classes during the past school year. Through Starr’s efforts, Hebrew had been taught in classes before and after school.

Starr’s goal is to continue to work with San Diego City Schools and ultimately get Hebrew  included in the high school curriculum as an elective.

Jim Sherman had brought back sunflower seeds from Israel, which had been donated by Hazera Seeds Ltd. He brought them over to HOI the morning of the program ,and showed  Samson and volunteers how to pack each plant in little “take-home” bags for visitors.

‘Sunflowers grow fast” said Sherman, who also advised “make sure they have plenty of water and fertilizer.”

When asked why the Israeli Scouts had come to the event, Guy Nimrodi, one of their leaders, responded:

“We came here today to promote the tradition of the Israeli Scouts. We want to educate the Jewish youth here in San Diego about Israel and help them have an Israeli experience.” Volunteer scouts developed some games and quizzes for children to teach facts about Israel.

Dancing with Dalya –was the grand finale of the 2012 lawn program. As usual, there was lots of participation and even more fun!

For more information on the participating groups, see their websites below.;;;;  

Golden is a freelance writer in San Diego.  She may be contacted at [email protected]










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