“Who restored the monument in memory of the Bus 405 terror victims?”
“We often show up somewhere to clean or maintain, and people have no idea who made the place look decent again,” says Yuval Farjun, principal of Ohr Torah Stone’s Jacob Sapirstein high school in Jerusalem. “The environment and nature are our friends, not a resource to be exploited and then abandoned. Therefore, we make sure that every hike our students go on incorporates some sort of action for the sake of the environment.”
Mako News | 26 September, 2019
Hikes, rappelling, exciting attractions, swimming, rooming together, playing games late into the night, fun activities and so forth. At OTS’s Jacob Sapirstein High School for Boys, located in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood, every school trip or hike involves cleaning up a national memorial or heritage site that requires urgent treatment. “When the counselors come to me with options for the outing, they already know in advance that every hike must include the cleanup of some sort of public site that suffers from neglect,” says Yuval Farjun, principal of the high school.
“Environment is the leading theme in our school,” he says. “For years now, every time we plan a school trip, we map out areas in the vicinity of our hiking trailing that have been neglected for years, and make sure our hike passes through the spots that need attention. We check out the neglected areas in advance and decide which equipment will be necessary to restore the place. Every trip incorporates cleaning and nurturing the natural environment.”
The last time this happened was this past Wednesday, when the students went on a hike in the vicinity of Chemed. The class social coordinator, who was aware of the fact that the monument in memory of those murdered in the terrorist attack on bus number 405 had been completely vandalized, proposed that the students restore and clean the memorial site, and even suggested that the school’s carpentry workshop build a wooden monument bearing the names of the victims.
“The place really looked bad, and after the big brass memorial plate had been stolen, the monument had really lost its heart, in a sense. We do not have the means nor the capabilities to make a replica of the original monument, but we decided to help out where we could and honor the site and the memory of the victims by taking a few steps to improve the external appearance of the place,” says Mordechai Cohen, the social activities coordinator. “We arrived at the spot with 7th-9th graders and worked for a good few hours cleaning up, fixing broken bits of concrete and setting up the wooden monument we had made. Then we continued on our hike.”
For the children this is an exceptional experience. “Now the list of names has taken on new meaning for me,” says Noam, a 7th grader. “When I come back here with my family, I will be able to tell them about this place and how I took part in preserving it. As far as my friends and I are concerned, we are already eager to plan which nature site will be next in line for restoration and conservation.”
For Farjun, preserving nature and the environment is a model to live by. “The monument is situated in a public spot and we noticed it really didn’t look too good, so we decided to make a joint effort to improve the appearance of the place and the natural scenery. We have to treat nature and our landscapes as friends, and not as a resource to be exploited and then abandoned. There is no hike which doesn’t incorporate an activity which contributes to nature and to public recreational areas, and this is a lesson our students continuously internalize.”