Grade 10 LA Trip – Days 3-5

February 14-16, 2020 Update

In the Main Conrcourse at the Museum of Tolerance

It had been a busy few days for us here in L.A. We’ll have a speed review because our update will cover from Friday morning to Sunday night.

Listening attentively at The Anne Frank Exhibit

Friday was primarily spent at the L.A Museum of Tolerance. Our morning session was in the Holocaust and Tolerance sections of the museum. The guide was amazed by the students’ knowledge of the Holocaust. This museum was more of a digital museum than the previous Holocaust Museum. Each section had a diorama with additional video footage. The tolerance section also focused on other atrocities and issues plaguing mankind, such as child labour. Before breaking for lunch, we met with another Holocaust survivor and asked a plethora of questions.

Meeting with a Holocaust Survivor

After the morning tour, we took a break for lunch. Students were off to Sushiko and the Kosher Grill for some falafel. It was a much needed break before we headed back to the Museum of Tolerance to see their Anne Frank exhibit. This part of the museum is really purposefully constructed so that as you move through the spaces they get tighter and tighter to replicate the conditions Anne and her family lived in for so long. Before going into the museum, we emphasized how Anne was the same age as our students and how her life and ambitions were taken away from her well before her time. We shared quotes of Anne’s about spreading happiness in the world and empowering messages of how students get direction from their parents, but it is up to them to ultimately choose who they want to be. It was a moving exhibit and included one area with a hidden door leading to an immersive digital storytelling about her eventual capture. This was a tough day for the students but they were able to stay focussed and learned much from the visit. With this experience in our minds it was time to start transitioning into Shabbat mode.

At the Museum of Tolerance learning about people in the camps
We headed back to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat. The plans for the evening included a trip to the Happy Minyan, home hospitality for Shabbat dinner and then an Oneg back at the hotel. I’m pleased to report that the Happy Minyan is as advertised. The experience there was transforming and transformative. Firstly, during the day the space is a karate dojo and it transforms into a synagogue. The experience of the service at this synagogue was also transformative. This Hasidic synagogue was full of life and joyful Judaism. There was just as much singing, dancing and drumming as there was praying. Everyone got into the action and one student said he would attend more services in Vancouver if they were like this one. As services were winding down, we separated into groups to head out a home hospitality Shabbat meal. The teachers did a walking loop through the neighborhood dropping students at houses along the way. Each family was very welcoming for Shabbat dinner and we were all appreciative of a home cooked meal. It was a really nice experience to be involved in other families Shabbat traditions including going around the table to share what we were thankful for. After dinner we met back at the hotel to debrief and head off to bed.
Saturday morning started with a well-received sleep in. When we were up, we did a workshop in the hotel organized by Rabbi Berger looking at the prayer Shema Yisrael. We discussed the difference between hearing and listening, showing love through action, breathing and giving all of oneself with their whole soul and body. Next, we walked over to the Yeshiva University Los Angeles Campus (YULA). It was an amazing campus and we used one of their prayer chapels for a session on prayer with Rabbi Jack Malul. We had Kaddish Raba at YULA and then we went back to Rabbi Mallul’s home for yet another meal and some Torah learning. We had a beautiful afternoon in Rabbi Malul’s backyard. We ate lunch and played games among his Lemon and Orange trees. After our third feeding of the day he led us in a lesson on how to be happy in life. We left his house full, enlightened, and well prepared for Shabbat Menuchah (rest). For Havdallah, we went to the Pico Shul run by Rabbi Yona. He served us our Seuda Hashlishit (3rd meal) but it was actually our fourth meal of the day. Rabbi Yona is another lively individual and a member of the Happy Minyan. He led us in the Havdallah service and then played guitar while we enjoyed the candle lighting of Havdallah. After Havdallah, we finished  our evening by going to Los Angeles Theatre Sports. Here we were thoroughly entertained by some very gregarious improv actors. Tal and Sean got in on the act and were great "sports". Our last move of Shabbat was to have a pizza party from Pizza World back at the hotel. We filled up on pizza before hitting the hay.

King David "sports" doing Improv at L.A. Theatre Sports

Universal Studios brought the smiles

Sunday morning finally came and for once the students were all on time and ready on the bus. This, my friends, is because we were off to Universal Studios. The day was spent on rides, and generally just enjoying the lightness of the atmosphere. With all the heavy content of the trip this was the perfect conclusion before coming home. Our final stop on the way to the airport was, yes you guessed Pizza World. Some last slices of kosher pizza and pasta and we were back at LAX.

A happy place to end the trip! 

This trip was truly a special experience and could not have been done without the planning and leadership of Mrs. Belson and Rabbi Berger. They have been planning and re-planning for months and this trip ran incredibly smoothly. Also, a big thanks to Lu Winters for all of her support, planning, and team mentorship throughout the trip. We would also be remiss not to thank Debbie Appelbaum for all her behind the scene’s organization. We are also thankful for the support we get from the Jewish Federation, The Betty Averbach Foundation and other supporters…. The group will be arriving home tonight at around 11:30 p.m.on Air Canada flight 559. 

Thanks for reading everyone and have a great Family Day tomorrow.
Matt Dichter
King David High School, 5718 Willow Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z4S9 Canada
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