Over the course of nine months on Yahel Israel Social Change Program, there were many times that felt this way. Times when things simply did not fall into place or work out as I had expected. Times when I felt that I was moving forward to only be pushed back. Times when I could not articulate myself due to the language barrier and culture gaps. Times when I knew how things should work only to realize that there was another way to do it. As the program is at the conclusion, I am trying to find a way to seek closure, reflect, and leave with a defined experience. … More Rules of Adjustment: Lessons Learned in My Nine Months on the Yahel Social Change Program
My focus here is on the fact that this school, like any other situation or place or any general aspect of life, is a container for a group of kids and teachers who are comprised of far more than meets the eye. The difference for me is that I’m starting to get to know them intimately. And I’m starting, even, to get to know the surrounding community, whose many factors are starting to inform the stories inside the school walls. I’m fascinated and inspired and shocked and deeply saddened by what I’ve heard so far, for the past and the present and the future, and I feel as though I’m sitting on the tipping point of action. Ready to do something but staying myself patiently because I know I need to be better informed, if at all. … More The Faces I See: The Children of El Razi Elementary School
‘Old Person’ is not an OK way to refer to elderly people in English. The Dor Ledor (from generation to generation) organisation refers to elderly people in exactly these terms, bantering ‘זקן’ – old person, around like it’s nobody’s business. As the Talmudic use of ‘זקן’ explains that ‘old person’ ‘sage’ and ‘wise’ share the same meaning, Dor Ledor believes that ‘old person’ should be reclaimed along with pride in old age and the scope for learning and enrichment that it provides.
By pairing young and old participants through their Dorot (generations) programme, Dor Ledor hopes to alleviate the social alienation of old people and establish relationships of value between generations. … More Lessons From An ‘Old Lady’
Before coming to Lod, I was sure I had a good grasp of the history of Israel’s Arab population, namely its Palestinian inhabitants. My knowledge was lacking however when it came to the nuances of Arab-Israeli identity. Because Yahel places its volunteers with social justice NGO’s and exposes us to local activists, my knowledge of Arab-Israeli identity is largely filtered through my experiences with local Arab activists who use their work to address social justice issues within their communities. This includes Arab-Jewish relations, racism, education, cultural awareness, and women’s rights. Therefore, my experiences in Lod have characterized Arab-Israeli identity as heavily influenced by social justice work, love of their individual cultures, and defiance against social, political, and cultural injustices. … More Arab-Israeli Identity Through The Scope of Social Justice
One of the most fascinating and difficult parts of Israel is that there is a common religion and nationality for 80% of the civilians, Judaism, but thousands of years in diaspora has led to multiple cultures, languages, and ways to practice Judaism. The desire to keep traditional practices while also being part of the larger Israeli society and being accepted by the Rabbinate in Israel, has caused difficulties for the Ethiopian-Israeli community. Sigd, a Jewish holiday traditionally observed in Ethiopia, provides an opportunity to glimpse the current state of affairs for Ethiopian-Israelis. … More Sigd in Ethiopia & Israel
It’s been about three months since I packed up my things and moved across the world to Israel. Things can be disorienting, strange, and uncomfortable when you move to a new country regardless of how much you prepare yourself mentally. There have been challenges that I anticipated (sharing a room, lack of certain creature comforts, homesickness) and those that were unexpected (how much the language barrier would impact me and cultural differences between schools in the U.S. and Israel). But even with these challenges, there is a strong feeling of appreciation for the people and things in my life here that make me feel at home or provide comfort, distraction, or happiness that is unlike anything I have experienced. Below are some of those things. … More Goals & Gratitude
What an incredible experience, and what an absolute honor it was to be present with the energies and narratives of these powerful women. There were a few tears, much mutual respect all around, MANY laughs, and, in typical Israeli fashion, a bit of dancing at the end. … More To Continue
Today’s participant blog post comes from Leah Topper, a current participant in the Yahel Social Change Program. Leah’s group is living, learning and volunteering in Rishon LeZion, Israel for 9 months this year. This post was taken from Leah’s personal blog, which can be found here. This is it, the post where I finally describe my volunteer schedule in … More Unveiling My Varied Volunteer Schedule
My name is Alexandra Levine and I am in going into my fourth year of studies at McGill, majoring in Honours International Development-with a focus on refugee policies and human rights- accompanied by a minor in Jewish studies. This summer, I was looking for a meaningful internship that not only addressed a key developmental issue, but also one that was able to encompass my Jewish studies, learning, and love of Israel.
Two summers ago I was studying Arab-Israeli conflict in Israel and noticed a large and impoverished African population residing and conversing near the new central bus station in downtown Tel Aviv. I am not sure what it was exactly but something about the scene sparked something inside me and I went home that night to do research regarding what I had seen. Evidently, unbeknownst to me, who at the time was solely focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, there was a mass wave of asylum seekers entering illegally into Israel through the Sinai, the majority hailing from Eritrea, with other minority groups including Sudanese, Ghanians and Nigerians. … More Working Inside the System to Affect Change
Because of Sindyanna, many Arab women in Kufr Kanna who had never worked after they got married are now employed and able to contribute to their households’ incomes. Some of them do not even have to leave their homes: the traditional woven baskets Sindyanna sells can be produced by both Arab and Jewish women in the comfort of their own kitchens. Many of the women I met also enjoyed working in the Visitors Center. They told me it was nice to be able to leave their homes and socialize with other people, especially after their children had all grown up. … More Sindyanna of Galilee: An Oasis of Coexistence in the Middle East?