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
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
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?
I cannot tow a line in fear of not offending someone, so I write this piece with the utmost honesty and respect, acknowledging that my perspective is limited and yet, that my personal narrative has value. … More The Story The News Will Never Write: A Reflection on July 26th, 2016 in East Jerusalem
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
Lod’s wealth in historical property is often overlooked. It was on this particular Wednesday evening that a historical site (“Khan el-Hilu”), once left crumbling to pieces, was filled with life as people hurried to setup for the night market located in the Old City of Lod. Inside the Khan vendors arranged food stations. Outside, clothing and jewelry vendors put up their tables, and a moon bounce was inflated which had kids jumping with anticipation for the event to officially begin. … More The Night Market: Where the Past Meets the Future
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
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!