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
‘Old Person’ is not an OK way to refer to elderly people in English. The Dor Ledor (from generation to generation) organisation refers to elderly people in exactly these terms, bantering ‘זקן’ – old person, around like it’s nobody’s business. As the Talmudic use of ‘זקן’ explains that ‘old person’ ‘sage’ and ‘wise’ share the same meaning, Dor Ledor believes that ‘old person’ should be reclaimed along with pride in old age and the scope for learning and enrichment that it provides.
By pairing young and old participants through their Dorot (generations) programme, Dor Ledor hopes to alleviate the social alienation of old people and establish relationships of value between generations. … More Lessons From An ‘Old Lady’
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
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
What an incredible experience, and what an absolute honor it was to be present with the energies and narratives of these powerful women. There were a few tears, much mutual respect all around, MANY laughs, and, in typical Israeli fashion, a bit of dancing at the end. … More To Continue
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!
This year on MLK Day, I found myself thinking of nonviolence a bit differently. I had always taken nonviolence as a given—it seemed obvious that the most effective road to change was through peaceful protest. But recent experiences in Israel have suggested otherwise. There was the Palestinian activist who told me that his people are justified in using deadly force out of desperation. There are reports of Israeli soldiers raiding homes after the deadly shooting in a Tel Aviv bar this month. And there is the constant military presence, at checkpoints and train stations, that reminds me that the only way to deal with threats of violence is with more guns. … More In Defense of Nonviolence
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