The Situation Room: The Many Faces of Israel

This program uses the model of the White House Situation Room to help Israeli and American staff members work together to create Israel programs for the summer.

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Core Learnings: 

Since its founding, Israel has been open to Jewish immigration from around the world
Jews in need have come to Israel from Yemen, Iraq, Russia, Central Europe, Ethiopia, and many other places
Staff can work collaboratively to create amazing Israel programs for campers of all ages and in any setting


Step 1: Introducing the Activity

The facilitator will stand up in front of the staff and present the following scenario:

“The President of the United States, when faced with an international military crisis, huddles in the Situation Room and listens to proposed solutions offered up by different working groups before making a decision. In today’s activity, the director of the camp is faced with a similarly dire situation. The camp wants to give campers an opportunity to learn about Israel while having fun at camp. But the director has no program ideas to implement. Your task is to come up with a program that is both fun and engaging and also successfully integrates content related to the modern state of Israel, its history, and its culture. You will be split into groups and given 20 minutes to design your program from start to finish, after which you will make your presentation to the director. Just as in the Situation Room, there will be a list in your folder of circumstances which your program must satisfy. Also, when you are presenting, you will not just be presenting to the director, but to the rest of the staff.”

Step 2: Connecting with the Many Faces of Israel

  • Share the following excerpt from Israel's Declaration of Independence:
    • The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Facilitate a brief (5-7 minutes) discussion about this passage. Questions might include:
    • Why does it call Jews "Exiles"? (When the Romans conquered Israel in the year 70 CE, they exiled all Jews from the land).
    • Why do you think Israel made itself open to any Jew who wanted to move there? Why do you think Israel does this today?
    • What about non-Jews? (Nearly a quarter of Israeli citizens are non-Jews -- mostly Arabs. Non-Jews do not enjoy the same "Right of Return" to Israel, but those who live there and are citizens do enjoy the rights described in this passage.

Step 3: Creating New Programs

  • The facilitator divides staff into groups and gives each group a packet that includes an instruction sheet (each group is assigned a slightly different task).
  • The facilitator explains that the groups have 20 minutes to create a program for a specific audience and in a specific setting, as indicated in the folder. The program should impart the following information about Israel using at least 7 "ingredients," including at least 3 from the list below. At the end of 20 minutes (or more, if you desire), each group will have 1 minute to describe the activity they have created and 4 minutes to model it. Stress the importance of actually leading a shortened version of the activity!
  • The facilitator and other staff circulate among the groups to help ensure they understand their challenge and to provide encouragement.
  • The facilitator should give the groups a 10 minute and 5 minute warning before calling them back to make their presentations.
  • After 20 minutes, everyone comes back together and the groups present their programs to a 'cabinet' of division heads who will vote to decide which program is the most engaging and creative while also including the required information.

Stage 4: Wrap-Up

  • After each presentation, the director of the camp, along with the ‘cabinet’ of division heads or chosen staff members, can ask questions of the group and make recommendations for suggested alterations of the program for maximization. At the director's discretion, anyone in the room can pose questions or make suggestions.
  • At the end of the program, the director will announce her/his decision which should be something along the lines of: ‘Thank you all for working so hard together on these great programs. I have decided that all of them could work and will work this summer when you do them with your campers! You have just given yourselves (x number) new programs for the summer. Great work! Or as we say in Hebrew “Yasher Koach!”’


You can do this activity using any Israeli concept, historical event, etc. The background cards can provide lots of ideas, as can any area of interest suggested by a staff member.


Background Cards: