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
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
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
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
In all, the night showed the importance of having pride in your roots, as there is so much beauty and power in the cultures and histories of each ethnicity. Sometimes though, what kids need most in order to be influenced to see this is young role models–whether its those at the community center, a young rabbi, or their youth group “representative.” … More Role Models and The Sigd
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
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
This week’s parsha post was written by Yahel Intern, Laurie Hunt. Laurie was a participant on Yahel’s University of Maryland Hillel Insight program last year. She spent 10 days volunteering with the Ethiopian-Israeli community in Rishon LeZion. In this week’s parsha, Vayeishev, Jacob gives a lavish, technicolored coat to his son, Joseph, who is glorified by his father. … More Parshat Vayeishev