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
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
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
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
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
Greetings from the bustling Israeli metropolis of Lod! This city will be my home for the next nine months as I take part in the Yahel Social Change program.
Why Lod and what’s this city all about?
Lod is one of many biblical cities in Israel. It’s mentioned multiple times in the Old Testament, it’s the hometown of roman soldier-turned-martyr St. George, 7th century capital of the Muslim military district, Crusader town, Ottoman industrial hotspot and a city called “Lydda” as part of the British Mandate in Palestine. It’s almost impossible to find a city in Israel that is not made up of layers upon layers of history, and Lod is certainly a prime example.
Unfortunately, Lod’s present does not reflect its rich history. Lod is the kind of city that most Israelis stay clear of.
When I was visiting the Israeli consulate to get my visa, the security guard told me, “be careful, that’s a rough place,” upon finding out I would be working in Lod. … More Life in Lod: Challenges and Change
In the states, Yom Kippur is a whisper. We fast, attend services, and reflect on the past year’s transgressions and our intentions for the future. But the world keeps going on around us, so it is easy to get distracted by our daily lives. The significance of the day is a murmur caught up in the chatter of our surroundings.
In Israel, Yom Kippur is a deep, whooshing breath that you hold in your chest for a whole day. Everything around stands still for the holiest day of the year– there are no cars on the road, no people in the streets, and all business doors are closed. The silence forces you to observe deliberately, and reflection becomes a necessity rather than an afterthought.
When was the last time your entire world stood still?
For us, Yom Kippur began with Arab music. … More Yom Kippur Was…
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
Today’s participant blog post comes from Jens Jacobsen, a participant of the Yahel Social Change Program. This group is living, learning and volunteering in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon LeZion for 9 months this year. When you decide to move to a foreign country, city, neighbourhood and community with the goal of having an impact for social … More Shofars and Social Justice: An Exploration of Ramat Eliyahu’s Religious Communities