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
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
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
When I learned about Yitzhak Rabin in Jewish day school, his story seemed so simple. He worked to create peace in Israel, yet some crazy Jewish guy killed him because he didn’t think exchanging a small piece of land was worth it for peace. Simple, right?
Looking back on Rabin’s life and assassination through Yahel has shown me that his legacy is far from simple. In a learning session, we looked at flyers created for Rabin Memorial Day in various years since his death. How did people’s perceptions of Rabin and his legacy change over time? What themes did people focus on throughout the years as they remembered his life and death? This exercise made me realize that Rabin’s legacy is complex. Some people think his work ultimately set the stage for the next 20 years of tension and violence. Others believe if Rabin had lived to finish what he started, the situation today would be vastly different. … More Rabin’s Legacy 20 Years Later
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