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
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
Now I have been working at Tabenkin for over a month. I have worked at many summer camps, but I have never felt this kind of connection with any kids I have worked with before. My hebrew has improved, I have bonded with the other counselors, and my time spent with the kids continues to be the highlight of my day. When I go home for the weekend I miss the class. When I am with them I feel like I belong. There is nothing I would rather do with my day than spend it at Tabenkin school. In all honesty I have contemplated not coming back to the USA, and instead continuing to work with these kids for the year. I know that this is not realistic, but I can’t imagine being happier doing anything else. … More Finding My Place in the Tabenkin School
The 12 year-old girl I tutor through Yahel at the Learning Center in the Matnas (the local JCC) has made my accent her personal mission for the year. At the end of our English sessions, she picks out Hebrew children’s books and has me read to her, laughing at my weak “lamed” (ל) or American-ized “shin” (ש). Although according to her, my accent level is that of a preschooler (based on her choice of books about teddy bears and zoo animals), she is patient with me as I grant her the same patience with her proununciation of English words. By trading positions in the learning dynamic, she is able to gain skills as the teacher and I can truly understand what it is like to be the student struggling with a new, foreign language. … More Speak in Hebrew!
This is exactly what I set out to learn when I was looking for a volunteer program eight months ago. However, while the program I chose happened to be in Israel, I couldn’t imagine gaining this insight anywhere else. This tiny country, in which it only takes half a day to drive from top to bottom, is so intrinsically complex that almost every major world power is a stakeholder in its affairs. And in a way, I’m a stakeholder too. I’m not an Israeli citizen, but I could be if I wanted to, through the Right of Return policy. I haven’t donated to Israeli charities in the past, but I received Israel Bonds my whole life – many of which I used to travel to Israel in 2010. And whether I invest or divest in this country, I am engaging with Israel on some level. I just choose to engage with this country through (what I believe to be) a productive, sustainable means. … More Wooaaahhh, We’re Halfway There!
Today’s participant blog post comes from Benji Bernstein, a participant in the Yahel Social Change Program. Benji’s group is living, learning and volunteering in Lod, Israel for 9 months this year. This post was taken from Benji’s personal blog, which can be found here. The last few weeks in Ramat Eliyahu have been very busy, but exciting as always. … More Creating Dialogue on Social Change Through Israeli Hip-Hop
Today’s participant blog post comes from Benji Bernstein, a participant in the Yahel Social Change Program. Benji’s group is living, learning and volunteering in Rishon LeZion, Israel for 9 months this year. This post was taken from Benji’s personal blog, which can be found here. It was a beautiful New Years Day morning in Tel Aviv. I had just … More Life Goes On
What is community? This question may seem easy to answer, or maybe it may seem far too abstract to be worth entertaining, or maybe it may even seem irrelevant given our placement in society. However, based on my experiences during a seminar trip, I can say that community is both something profoundly beautiful and challenging all at the same time. I believe many of us in today’s society take community for granted—I know I certainly have. There are groups that we all in some way belong to, with or without or choosing, but a community is something unique in virtue of it being of our own creation and intimate participation. Our first exposure to community took place during the observance of the Sigd holiday, which comes from Ethiopian Jewry. … More Community
Welcome to the launch my of new coexistence project!!! Today’s topic: pluralism (it’s rad). Despite being a Jewish state, Israel is a bastion of religious and ethnic diversity; this week, I was lucky to get to know some of Israel’s minority groups a bit more intimately.
Pluralism is familiar to most Americans. The United States is an incredible amalgamation of different races, religions, ethnicities, and identities—call it a melting pot, a mosaic, but either way we can be proud of our diverse nation. And, because of the rights decreed by the 1st amendment, various identities live amongst one another with the freedom to express their differences and share their similarities. Even within certain religions, Americans enjoy a wide variety of pluralistic expression; for example, American Jews can belong to one of several religious camps including Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Ultra Orthodox, and Reconstructionist. … More PluRADlism
When I learned about Yitzhak Rabin in Jewish day school, his story seemed so simple. He worked to create peace in Israel, yet some crazy Jewish guy killed him because he didn’t think exchanging a small piece of land was worth it for peace. Simple, right?
Looking back on Rabin’s life and assassination through Yahel has shown me that his legacy is far from simple. In a learning session, we looked at flyers created for Rabin Memorial Day in various years since his death. How did people’s perceptions of Rabin and his legacy change over time? What themes did people focus on throughout the years as they remembered his life and death? This exercise made me realize that Rabin’s legacy is complex. Some people think his work ultimately set the stage for the next 20 years of tension and violence. Others believe if Rabin had lived to finish what he started, the situation today would be vastly different. … More Rabin’s Legacy 20 Years Later