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
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
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
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
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”
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
This blog post was written by Darya Watnick. Darya is a participant on the Yahel Social Change Program. The past six weeks, at promptly 9:30 am on Thursday mornings we met with Rabbi Levi Lauer for an hour and a half class where we discussed everything from God, Judaism and evil in the world to … More “You can’t dance at two weddings with one rear end.”
This week’s parsha post was written by Laurie Hunt, Yahel alumna and intern, and a student at the University of Maryland. The Israelites endure major suffering in this week’s parsha, Shemot, as the Pharaoh of Egypt decreed that they must work as slaves and all of the newborn sons should be killed. Because the Israelites were … More Parsha Shemot
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