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
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
Today’s participant blog post comes from Daniel Hammerman, a participant in the Yahel Social Change Program. Dan’s group is living, learning and volunteering in Lod, Israel for 9 months this year. This post was taken from Dan’s personal blog, which can be found here. We have all heard the saying, “you can’t fully understand a person until you’ve walked … More Israel – A Land of Connections and Divisions
Since I’ve been in Israel, and living in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod, I’ve constantly heard about the difficulties Arab citizens face on a daily basis as a minority group within Israel. As a white Jewish woman, I recognize how I experience fewer barriers in my daily life within Israel as a part of the majority. I also grew up with the notion that privilege somehow equates with an inherent ability to help others. But as I spoke to these incredibly smart, funny and kind students, all I could think about was the tremendous capacity we all had to teach each other about our respective languages and heritages.
Walking back home from the first exchange meeting, I was so excited to have the chance to participate in such an initiative. I know that English is a valuable tool here in Israel, so I’m glad I can be of help for students to whom English is a second – and sometimes third – language. Conversely, I have so much to learn about Arab society and culture here in Israel, and now I have a tremendous resource through this partnership. … More Partnership ,Tzedakah and the Universality of Giving
In Israel, I have been fortunate enough to have several incredible families to adopt me. In Lod, I found a new family to also adopt me. My host family, the Ankorys have made this new city feel more like home, accepting my lack of Hebrew with a smile and excitement to teach me and improve their English. They literally live around the corner from me which makes going to Shabbat dinner easy and delicious. One of my new favorite foods is this couscous soup that their grandmother brought from Tunisia that is so good that I had to learn the Hebrew word for yummy to describe it (ta-im)! The grandparents immigrated from Tunisia in the midst of the war, the grandfather moving first to Israel and the grandmother following after. … More Treasures
In all, the night showed the importance of having pride in your roots, as there is so much beauty and power in the cultures and histories of each ethnicity. Sometimes though, what kids need most in order to be influenced to see this is young role models–whether its those at the community center, a young rabbi, or their youth group “representative.” … More Role Models and The Sigd
As I have been progressing in my post-college period and attempting to figure out my goals for a successful future, there have been two main ideas to grapple with: what it means to be a leader, and what it means to be in a community. I have had many opportunities to delve into these topics during my time on Yahel, but the most meaningful of these have occurred over the past week. During this time, I have realized that leadership and community are tied closely together, and one of these factors is essential to have for the other to occur. I have also learned that both factors, especially leadership, have different meanings for different people, and one can create their ideal community and leadership to fit their future plans and way of life.
… More Leadership and Community
For those who may not know, I am currently in training to serve for the year as a volunteer community organizer in the developing Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon LeZion, Israel. The community is largely comprised of Jewish Ethiopian immigrants, many of whom came to Israel by way of the covert Israeli military evacuations of Ethiopian Jews from both Sudan and Ethiopia (due to famine in Sudan and political instability in Ethiopia). Operation Moses, the mass evacuation from Sudan, occurred in 1984, while Operation Solomon took place in 1991. As a result, much of the millennial and post-millennial generations of Ethiopian Jews in Israel are first-generation Israelis, and in the short time that I have been here, I am already starting to pick up on the subtle cultural identity divide between the native Ethiopian parents and their Israeli-born children. … More A Beautiful Metaphor
As a veteran of the Israeli army and a learned Jew, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about the country I served: I attended Jewish day school, went to Jewish summer camp and traveled to Israel often.
I first realized how complex Israeli society was when I was in the army about a year ago. I quickly learned that not all Israeli citizens were comfortable with the way they were being treated. … More Building A Home For All Jewish People