While the world continues to struggle with Covid-19, Israel is beginning to reopen. We feel lucky and grateful that we are able to return to in-person work and help our partner organizations transition into this new phase. In these last few months, Yahel Fellows have returned to onsite volunteering at schools, community centers and non-profits in addition to their continued in-person work with special education and at-risk youth.
Moreover, with an emphasis on influencing the field of service in Israel at large, we have been able to run a growing number of service-learning projects engaging English speaking audiences from programs other than our own.
Finally, we are delighted to share that this fall the Yahel Fellowship will expand to Haifa! The expansion will enable us to scale our impact to one of the most diverse cities in Israel and invite fellows to learn from the incredible leaders dedicated to social change in the northern city.
With the ongoing political uncertainty in Israel, we feel privileged to be able to offer stability and continuity for our participants, our team and the communities we serve.
We are excited to share highlights from our work in the past few months.
We hope you enjoy!
—Dana and the Yahel team
Seminars on Social Entrepreneurship
for Masa Israel Teaching Fellows
In February, Yahel hosted four MITF groups for educational seminars on social entrepreneurship in the cities of Ramle and Rishon Lezion. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is an immersive internship program for post-college participants from English speaking countries, who teach English in 12 cities across Israel. The seminars introduced participants to social entrepreneurs and social initiatives in their cities and equipped them with practical tools to begin taking initiative themselves. Encounters in Ramle included the Community Garden at Beit Enosh and the Nur Center for young Arab women. In Rishon participants visited Tarbuta Arts Youth Club and met community activist and old-time Yahel friend, Bat El Taye.
MITF participants at Tarbuta (left) in Rishon Lezion, at the Community Garden (center) and the Nur Center (right) in Ramle.
In Response to oil spill—
Yahel-led Volunteer day for 120 Masa participants
In response to the recent oil spill at the Israeli shores of the Mediterranean, Yahel organized a cleanup day at the Bat Yam Beach for Masa participants from 5 different programs. 120 participants arrived at the beach to learn from a marine biologist about the context of the oil spill, its impact on life in the sea and on shore and help minimize the damage together with other Israeli volunteers. The day was a huge success! Programs expressed interest in future service experiences around similar causes. Huge thanks to Corall Azouri, founder of Shnat Tzmicha, for collaboration on this project!
Masa participants learning about the oil spill (left), removing oil deposits (center) and sifting through sand (right).
Negev seminar: Center and periphery in israel
Yahel Fellows traveled south last month for their annual Negev Seminar. As Covid-19 restrictions began to ease in Israel and with our entire cohort vaccinated, the seminar was not only an opportunity for exploration and learning but also for lots of group fun! On the 4-day seminar, which served as a deep dive into Israel’s southern periphery, fellows touched on a number of issues. Fellows visited Yerucham and learned about the challenges and opportunities in the desert town. An entire day was dedicated to theNegev Bedouincommunity — their history, heritage and the challenges of transitioning from semi-nomadic to permanent living. Additional activities included some beautiful desert hiking, group activities and a relaxing desert-paced Shabbat.
Yahel Fellows visiting the Bedouin community in Segev Shalom (left) and the unrecognized Bedouin village of Zarnooq (right).
Yahel Fellows hiking in Wadi Zin.
the Yahel Fellowship is expanding to Haifa!
We are delighted to share that in September 2021 the Yahel Fellowship will expand to Haifa, bringing the number of fellows to 34 in three sites annually. Yahel has been running student internship programs in Haifa for six years and has a vast network of community partners and volunteer placements excited to collaborate with our flagship program. As part of this expansion, we will be emphasizing the specific focus area for each city: Rishon Lezion – Immigration and Community Work, Lod – Shared Society and Haifa – Gender Equity. Learning and volunteering will be centered through these lenses, encouraging fellows to learn firsthand how to translate theory into practice grounded in multidisciplinary field work.
Please help us spread the news and recruit fabulous menches for our fellowship next year!
Yahel has been collaborating with Atzmaut Plus in Ramat Eliyahu for ten years. It was with the help of Atzmaut Plus that Yahel began its initial involvement in the neighborhood running alternative break programs in 2011. Atzmaut Plus provides support to Ethiopian-Israeli families in the areas of employment, family finances and intra-family relations with an emphasis on parents’ connection to schools and their ability to support academic learning at home for their children. In recent years Atzmaut Plus works under the Israeli Center for Innovation in Education (ICEI), serving as a cultural liaison for Ethiopian-Israeli families in the public school system. Through a collaborative Homework at Home project with Atzmaut Plus, Yahel Fellows meet with children in Ramat Eiyahu for English tutoring and mentorship. In addition, Yahel fellows assist the Resource Development team at ICEI.
Yahel Fellows running English activities for children through Atzmaut Plus in Ramat Eliyahu.
What brought you to Yahel?
For the past few years I've been working in clinical research, which I really enjoy. However, I lost my job during the pandemic and wanted to use it as an opportunity to try something different. Coming to Lod for a year seemed like a great opportunity to grow personally and to learn.
What is something new you learned about Israel or Israeli society?
I definitely didn't know the scope and depth of diversity, both culturally and religiously, within Israeli society. I've made a lot of new friends who come from incredibly different backgrounds.
Describe a meaningful or extraordinary moment from the fellowship so far.
One of my favorite moments was a visit to an unrecognized Bedouin village during our Negev Seminar. Our host described how the village had 0% unemployment and high rates of women pursuing university degrees. This was definitely a moment that reminded me not to make assumptions!
In one sentence describe your vision for social change work.
I aspire to continue pursuing social change work that is based on listening to the needs of a community and responding to those needs in a locally-based, culturally appropriate way.
Who is an inspiring social change role model for you?
My mom! She is truly rooted in our home community and is a member of many different community groups. People know they can always go to her if they know of someone in need and she will be quick to respond.
Want to learn firsthand about our volunteers' experiences on the ground?
Want to explore the impact of Yahel alumni in their home communities?