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
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
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
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 during art, Tamra* asked me for the piece of tile that I decorated in nonsense doodles and lines. On the back I wrote, from Naomi to Tamra, remember that you will always be smart, strong, and beautiful.
She smiled at me bashfully when she received it.
Tamra is a wonderful, quiet and kind fourteen year old, who has only begun to come to the Meitar, the youth village, recently. A few weeks ago I started teaching Zumba and fitness lessons to the girls. Rarely do the girls ever go into the weight room, but we’ve been working on changing that. A few days ago, after the herd of boys left the room, I saw one of the girls, Tamra, peak inside. I asked her if she wanted to come in with me and learn a few things. Within minutes we were weight lifting, and the look on this girl’s face was brighter than I had ever seen. She saw the eight-kilogram dumbbells in my hands and was amazed that girls could be that strong, that girls were even able lift weights, to feel the power that comes with moving your muscles. Next time, she wants to do more, and even start learning some boxing moves. … More “You Too Can Be Strong”
February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM) recognized by the Consortium of Jewish Special Educators. Having had the opportunity to work at a school for students with disabilities this is a topic close to my heart. When I first began my morning volunteer placement, at Belkind school, I would have never imagined how much of an impact it would have one me. Since getting to work hands on with some of the most magnificent children I have ever met I have learned an incredible about. And while the children may think of me as a teacher, really and truly I learn more from them on a daily basis than I could ever teach. … More Jewish Disability Awareness Month
The Jewish value of sustainability dates back to what commentary says is being said in the original source of Megillat Kohelet: “When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: “Look at my works! See how beautiful they are—how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it.” (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah, 1 on Ecclesiastes 7:13) This midrash is essentially saying what Hava ve Adam is teaching its students and workers: that if we, as Jews, don’t create a sustainable environment, there will be none of God’s earth left, and thus we must uphold his work by creating ecosystems that will make this possible. This applies further to the work that we are doing here in Ramat Eliyahu. … More Jewish Values of Sustainability on Tu B’Shvat: From Hava Ve’Adam Farm to Ramat Eliyahu