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
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
Israel is a land of stories. Stories of immigration, homelands, hardships, victories, love, war, poverty and success. Stories and history intertwine with each other to make this land flow rich with Nescafé and Sachlav.
The main story most commonly discussed (argued) in Israel is the Arab-Israeli conflict, but there are many narratives in this conflict that are often overlooked. One that has found its way into my heart is that of an Arab group called the Bedouins.
The Bedouins are traditionally a nomadic group who live in the Negev desert. When Israel became a state and country borders were created, some Bedouins were living on the Israeli side and on the Jordan side. The Bedouins who happened to be living in the new State of Israel in 1949 were forcibly moved from their homes into “temporary” camps…and have since lived there because they are not legally allowed to move. There are three types of places Bedouins are allowed to live in the Negev: government built townships, recognized villages, and unrecognized villages. … More Stories
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
Deciding to pick up and move to Israel for a year was an easy decision. This was the next step in my life after graduating from university (Carleton – Go Ravens!). I knew that after finishing school, I had a responsibility to myself and the world to give back. Nonetheless, I had huge expectations. I was going to change the world! Based on my background in social justice, I was lucky to have found a program such as Yahel, which incorporated assisting community leaders with major social initiatives, and giving my thoughts and (Canadian!) perspective towards creating sustainable and positive change. I was excited to embark on this incredible and challenging journey with 15 other motivated young adults from around North America. … More Seeing The Big Picture In The Small Picture
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
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