Community – Am I a Part of It or Is It a Part of Me?

Today’s guest post is from Dana Larsen, a participant on the Repair the World Onward Israel  Service-Learning Initiative, a Yahel program in Be’er Sheva. You can read more about their program on their blog: RepairOnwardYahel


Yahel Israel Volunteers in Be'er Sheva
The 16 Participants of Repair the World Onward Israel Service-learning Initiative in Be’er Sheva

Community is a word that evokes a strong sense of pathos and identity regardless of what language it is spoken in. Everyone can identify with some community, whether it be a religious community, academic, social, political or any odd group in between. As humans we all have this innate desire to want to belong to something, anything. A community provides for and facilitates this sense of belonging that we so desire.

Tonight we discussed what a community is and furthermore, what does it mean to be a part of a community, or rather for a community to be apart of your identity. Can belonging to a community define who you are or do you define yourself by belonging to a community?  Does  the fact that I was born and raised a Jew define who I am or do I define myself by identifying with the Jewish community?

Communities of all shapes and colors are essential to society. They unite us and provide the intimacy and sense of belonging we not only want, but need.  I see myself as being part of multiple communities- whether they be on the small scale such as my neighborhood in Charlotte or the macro scale of the Jewish community as whole.

One of the things I have noticed, being in Israel thus far, is just how important being a part of a community is to many Israeli’s. A kibbutz at its core is a community of people living and working together. We meet with a women who was part of a new settlement of 15 families in the Negev, they did not find a community that matched their vision for living and raising their children so they are literally creating there own community in the heart of the Negev. Even our group with 16 participants and Shosh and Levi and the whole broader support staff in the background have begun to form our own community, within the broader community of Be’er Sheva.

Over the past three days volunteering with Be’er Sova I have seen this community truly come together, with volunteers from all walks of life, to serve their community and give back. On my first day at the restaurant one of the directors explained to me that life is like a cycle and sometimes your up and sometimes your down. What is truly remarkable about this community in Be’er Sheva is that when your down there are people there who will and want to help you. To me that is what defines a community.

Over the next few weeks as we continue to live and work within this community I hope to further explore and strengthen my ideals of what it means to be a part of a community and for a community to be a part of me.

– Dana Larsen


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