The Textures of Israel that Reshaped the Textures of Me / Erica Mitchell, Yahel Social Change Program Participant

Photos are representations of things we’ve seen and places we’ve been. They reveal feelings through images; these images depict the texture of my Israel.

Sigd was an important event for it taught me more about my Ethiopian Israeli neighbors. I could feel the importance of this holiday by going to Jerusalem to celebrate it.

I see these views every day. They represent Gedera to me. When I think of my home here in Israel, these are the backdrops I see.

In Tel Aviv I was able to find the balance I needed in order to connect all parts of myself. I was able to find the hustle and bustle of a city while I was also able to feel the beauty of the Israeli community. Although many complexities exist in the Israeli society, Tel Aviv can be a temporary escape from constantly having to feel overwhelmed with emotion. Tel Aviv allowed me to feel extremely happy and energetic while also still connected to Israel and a new type of Judaism.

This picture from our visit to a Lone Farm in the Negev shows one perspective on the complex  situation that exists there. On one hand, the Bedouins are being displaced from their own land through this process, however, on the other hand, families such as the one we visited here are able to live out their dream and start their own farms.

The Bedouin population and situation in the Negev is one that touched me. Having lived here for many years and having had their land taken away from them, Bedouins face many hardships. Most of their villages are unrecognized and the ones that are recognized still do not provide enough resources. By visiting one recognized village, one unrecognized village, and one township (a town set up by the government), I was able to learn a lot about the role of the Bedouin population in this country. I learned things on this trip that I had never heard of before, and for that I am thankful. Without this experience I would never have been able to learn the entire truth about the existence of Bedouins in Israel.

Jerusalem is a complicated city. I have had many changing and conflicting opinions about Jerusalem. No matter where I stand, Jerusalem is an extremely important city that is meaningful to almost everyone. Jerusalem is a city that people all over the world talk about and the fact that I got to spend as much time as I have there, really shaped my perspective. I was able to visit and see the different experiences of those in Jerusalem. I was able to learn first hand about the Haredi community and I saw the day to day life of those who live there. Being exposed to such different communities has allowed me to keep an open mind, however, has left me in complete confusion regarding my thoughts on this city.

The North is a beautiful, peaceful place. It feels so far away from the rest of the country due to its green color and its soothing ambiance. We came here during the Operation Cloud Pillar in the fall so the North will always symbolize somewhat of an escape for me. Here, the complications of the sirens were nonexistent and we were able to enjoy our stay at Kibbutz Hanaton. We were also fortunate enough to visit a Druze community and see how olives are harvested. Being amongst the beauty of the olive grove I fell in love with the North.

The Negev is like nothing I have ever seen before in my life. It is vast, mysterious, inspiring, and moving. It captivated me from the minute I saw it. Never before had I experienced such an incredible and extraordinary landscape. Being there inspired me as well as showed me how wonderful the world can be. The texture of the Negev is something that will stay with me forever. It looks and feels magical while also being filled with such complex situations and lifestyles,  like the conflict between Gurion’s vision of settling the Negev and the complexities I mentioned before with Bedouin communities. It is hard to reconcile the two sides, however, the complexities reveals its beauty. To be so sought after, the Negev must be a special place.

The textures of my Israel stem from how I have come to recognize this place as having something more to it. No matter where I am, who I am with, I feel that my life is meaningful. I am part of something here. I feel connected to this country and every day I am more amazed with the beauty I see. Whether I am seeing a new part of the country or experiencing the Israeli hospitality, I feel accepted and at home.

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