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
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
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
Specifically, we want to open dialogues with women about their abilities to discuss if and when to have children with their husbands, as well as the notion that they have agencies over their own bodies, while respecting the fact that both of these ideas are both radical and potentially off-putting to members of the Eritrean community. As we move forward, we will strive to put together a program that respects the norms and values of the community, while simultaneously promoting the benefits of family planning from health and economic standpoints. … More An Internship That’s Not Just Coffee And Copies
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
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