Israeli Students Immerse in SBP Culture and Find a Second Home


Jacob Anthony Amaro

“I want them to leave knowing that they have a second home,” said Mr. Gallerani, a history teacher at SBP.

A group of Israeli students who spent more than a week visiting St. Benedict’s said they had learned much from their experience in a diverse community—lessons that the world can learn from.

The 15 students, some Jewish and some Muslim, visited over ten days for a science project they are doing with SBP.

This is the second year that SBP has worked with students from the Amal Schools in Israel.

This year, students from Israel and St. Benedict’s in the project are developing an app. They have named it “FitBuddy.” Its purpose is to allow people to connect with others they might want to exercise with.

“The app will be like Snapchat in terms of the searching for people,” said Xavier Torres UDII. “But instead you can use the app to find a buddy to work out with.”

Last year, the members of the project came up with a mobile app that combines the Jewish and Christian ideals of love of neighbor. Named “GoGet,” the purpose of the app was for people to provide help to those who requested it. For example, if one were to experience a flat tire on the road, he or she could request help and receive it from people actively looking to help in the app. Helping another would earn one “boost points,” which a person could then use to request help.

This year, to begin developing the app, the students split themselves into three working groups: app development, marketing, and business planning.

By the end of the ten days, the group had designed a website, developed a marketing plan, and plotted out an outline for the app.

Students from Israel were treated to experiences representing the culture of St. Benedict’s, such as Convo and group meetings, throughout the week. They also went on excursions to several places in and around Newark, such as the Broadway show “Come From Away,” the 9/11 Museum, and Times Square.

On days that they remained at SBP, the students from Israel shadowed SBP students in class and participated in a variety of activities.

Although they had fun on the excursions, witnessing the beauty of the city, many of the students from Israel were captivated by the people they met.

¨I love the kids,” said Israeli student Abe Rgil. “I connected with some amazing people here.”

On their last day here, the students from Israel stood at the middle of the Shanley Gym during convocation, where Fr. Edwin bade them farewell with a prayer.

Mr. Gallerani then presented hand-carved gifts for them to take home — a wood mezuzah, a sacred object placed on doorposts by Jews, and a wood statue depicting Moses.

“I was sitting home and I saw my Moses carving sitting gathering dust, and then thought ‘I might as well give it as a gift,’ said Gallerani. “Then I decided it would be appropriate to make a mezuzah also.”

Gallerani first met the Israeli students when they were shadowing students in his class.

“I appreciated how respectful, bright, and delightful the students were in my class,” said Gallerani. In Gallerani’s class, the Israeli students had the opportunity to teach Hebrew to students in the class.

Gallerani intended for the two gifts to symbolize SBP’s friendship with the Amal Schools in Israel and their Judeo-Christian traditions.

“I want them to leave knowing that they have a second home,” said Gallerani.

Now, SBP students are preparing to leave for Israel. That takes place in two weeks.