Sigd in Ethiopia & Israel

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

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“You Too Can Be Strong”

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”

“You can’t dance at two weddings with one rear end.”

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.”

Parsha Shemot

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

Parshat Vayeishev

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