With your support and partnership I hope to raise $1000 for Yahel an organization that helps empower the Ethiopian community in Israel.
I was once told that in order to love someone it is important to know everything about him or her. To see him or her when they look their best and worst, when having a great day or one where he or she just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. This is the same when it comes to my relationship with Israel. In order to truly love my homeland I have learned that it is imperative for me to explore everything about the country and the people living in it. This is why I am so motivated and excited to partner with Yahel Israel. I hope to be exposed to a community in Israel I have never learned about before. I want to challenge and question the homeland that I love so much and ultimately I hope to be a part of the social changes needed in Israel.
My relationship with Israel started when I was 15 years old and decided to study abroad with Tichon Ramah Yerushalyim (TRY) for the second half of my sophomore year of high school. Over the four month program I fell madly in love with Israel, the food, the people, the history, and the land. Since then I promised myself I would go back every year to further this bond. I was able to go back the summer of 2006 on Ramah Seminar, the winter of 2007 with Solomon Schechter Westchester, and for my gap year 2007 to 2008 on Kivunim. It was on Kivunim that I began to see parts of Israel I have never seen before. I slept in an Arab Israeli village for three nights, I encountered those on the extreme right who live in trailers on land Israel does not own, and those on the extreme left who live for a two state solution.
After Kivunim I went back to Israel on Hasbara an Israel advocacy program, and then on a few vacations where I began to volunteer at a soup kitchen in Jerusalem called Hazon Yeshaya. Hazon Yeshaya is an organization that is fighting poverty in Israel through vocational training programs, soup kitchens, free dental clinics, and food delivery services. Over the years I have realized that Israel is not simply this perfect land flowing with milk and honey, but is a real country with real social justice issues.
As I embark on my journey this winter to learn about the Ethiopian community in Israel I hope through questioning my relationship with the land I am able to build connections with the individuals in the community fostering my realtionship with Israel. This is not just a service trip but a cultural exchange. I am ready to listen, learn, and grow by partnering with Yahel and the Ethiopian community. If I do not challenge my relationship with Israel now, I will never be able to join the fight for social justice in my homeland and help her become that perfect land we as jews have always dreamed of.
To learn more about Yahel please visit: http://www.yahelisrael.com/index.php