Israel is a land of stories. Stories of immigration, homelands, hardships, victories, love, war, poverty and success. Stories and history intertwine with each other to make this land flow rich with Nescafé and Sachlav.
The main story most commonly discussed (argued) in Israel is the Arab-Israeli conflict, but there are many narratives in this conflict that are often overlooked. One that has found its way into my heart is that of an Arab group called the Bedouins.
The Bedouins are traditionally a nomadic group who live in the Negev desert. When Israel became a state and country borders were created, some Bedouins were living on the Israeli side and on the Jordan side. The Bedouins who happened to be living in the new State of Israel in 1949 were forcibly moved from their homes into “temporary” camps…and have since lived there because they are not legally allowed to move. There are three types of places Bedouins are allowed to live in the Negev: government built townships, recognized villages, and unrecognized villages. … More Stories
The 12 year-old girl I tutor through Yahel at the Learning Center in the Matnas (the local JCC) has made my accent her personal mission for the year. At the end of our English sessions, she picks out Hebrew children’s books and has me read to her, laughing at my weak “lamed” (ל) or American-ized “shin” (ש). Although according to her, my accent level is that of a preschooler (based on her choice of books about teddy bears and zoo animals), she is patient with me as I grant her the same patience with her proununciation of English words. By trading positions in the learning dynamic, she is able to gain skills as the teacher and I can truly understand what it is like to be the student struggling with a new, foreign language. … More Speak in Hebrew!
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
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 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
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
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