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Dear friends —
A few weeks ago, we welcomed the 12th cohort of our Yahel Social Change Fellowship! We are thrilled to work with 24 fellows from 8 different countries who are volunteering in 75 different projects and organizations in Rishon Lezion, Lod, and Haifa.
The numbers are wonderful — we strive to work with as many young mensches as possible and assist numerous organizations and community members that need our help. At the same time, our work also goes much deeper. Every new year is an opportunity for more precision in our work and in the methods we employ to meet our goals. 
This year is a particularly exciting one for Yahel. With the launch of our third fellowship city in Haifa, we are deepening our understanding of this fascinating city, listening to needs and developing partnerships. Our work in Rishon Lezion and Lod has taught us that it takes time to build networks and trust, and it is an ongoing process. It is exciting to see this process unfold in Haifa as well.
Every year we spend time learning from our fellows, staff, and community members and adjusting our work accordingly – adding new placements and partners and working to maximize our impact with every new challenge that arises. This year we have added an additional layer in the form of city-based themes. These themes reflect some of the major issues manifested in each city and help us focus our work through a specific lens. In Rishon Lezion we are focusing on Immigration & Community Work. In Lod we are focusing on the theme of Shared Society, and in Haifa we have chosen to focus on Gender Equity. Our work continues to center around a range of social issues, but identifying these themes gives us an opportunity to enrich our service and education in the context of each city's unique narrative, opportunities, and needs.
There are many more exciting things in store this year which I hope you will enjoy reading about in the newsletter.
—Dana & the Yahel team

The 12th cohort of the 
yahel social change fellowship
is off to an excellent start!
Now over a month into their program, our Yahel Social Change fellows are finally settled into their communities in Ramat Eliyahu, Lod, and Haifa and are beginning to volunteer and form their own routines which they will carry on until the end of June.
Upon their arrival, fellows entered a mandatory week of quarantine, during which they began Ulpan (Hebrew language lessons) with our wonderful Hebrew teacher Maayan Sharet. Immediately afterwards, fellows started their orientation which, thankfully, took place in person this year. In addition to meeting with community partners and volunteer placements, fellows enjoyed a weekend all together in the north of Israel, that included a beautiful water walk and lots of opportunities to get to know each other and connect. 
The 2021-2022 fellowship cohort during the opening seminar in the north and their first joint learning day in Tel Aviv
“I found a little slice of heaven in Ramat Eliahu. I have never felt so at home in a place that so clearly isn’t. I grew up with two sisters adopted from Ethiopia, so Judaism and Ethiopia are two central parts of my identity, but never have I experienced a place where these two facets of my being were so perfectly in conversation with each other.” 
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Sydney Luks, current Yahel fellow in Rishon Lezion, shared this reflection in her group's initial meeting with the West Rishon Welfare Department earlier this month, where she and her peers will be volunteering in three different projects. 
We feel blessed to have such a sensitive, thoughtful, and intentional group of young people with us, and wish them along with our outstanding fellowship staff and community partners an impactful, meaningful and healthy year!
We want to take this opportunity to give special thanks to Masa Israel and VOIS - Volunteer in Israel, for their ongoing assistance and support around everything from visas and vaccines to educational content and logistics for our fellows. We look forward to many more years of fruitful collaboration.

Building the field of meaningful service:
Yahel & Masa joint Volunteer days
One of Yahel’s goals for the coming years is to build the field of meaningful volunteering in Israel. As part of this effort, Yahel will lead three large-scale volunteer days in collaboration with Masa Israel for participants from various Masa programs. These volunteer days will invite participants to take part in meaningful volunteering, engage with Israeli society, and connect with other Masa participants.
Each of the days will have a different theme and service activity. The first will take place before Chanukah and will be centered around community-based volunteering, the second day will focus on environmental volunteering tied to Tu B’Shvat, and the third and final day will relate to food security and Passover.
The upcoming volunteering day will be led and hosted by Yahel fellows in Lod, Rishon Letzion, and Tel Aviv. The day will focus on educational and recreational activities for children and youth, and will include activities using Yahel’s Library on Wheels, games, and other activities organized with our community partners. 

Grateful to be able to extend our reach
We recently completed our annual fundraising campaign, this year branded #ExtendingOurReach. Thanks to the generosity of 84 friends, board members, alumni and their families, we reached our fundraising goal of $36,000 — the highest amount Yahel has ever raised in a single campaign to date. This sum will help Yahel grow in the coming year, through program expansion, field building, and alumni work. As part of the campaign we invited donors to choose to receive gifts made by Yahel partner organizations and entrepreneurs. We are grateful to have been able to support the work of grassroots organizations and Yahel alumni as part of our fundraising efforts. 
Thank you once again to all of our donors for the ongoing generous support! 
Rachel Fishman, Yahel alumna, and a member of the Kuchinate collective in South Tel Aviv.

Fellow Spotlight 
Name: Darcie Grunblatt
Hometown: New York City
Education: BA in International Relations at the University of Delaware
Yahel City: Haifa
What brought you to Yahel?
I participated in a 10-day trip to Israel with the David Project in the winter of 2019. The trip was led by a Yahel fellowship alumnus and he took the group to Lod. I became very interested in the program. Coincidentally, when I returned to Israel that summer with Onward Israel, I met Dana during a trip. When Yahel announced that they were expanding to Haifa, I felt like it was the right time for me to apply since I am very interested in issues of gender.
In one word or short phrase, describe your vision for social change work:
I want to uplift the women in our communities and address their needs.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve ever visited?
For my mom’s birthday trip, we took a trip to the north of India. It’s a beautiful country and I was very impressed by the architecture. I really want to go back one day.
What is something new that you learned about your city in the short time that you've been here? 
I didn’t know that there was a large Russian-speaking community from the former Soviet Union in Haifa.

volunteer placement spotlight
As part of the recent expansion of the Yahel Fellowship to Haifa, we have expanded our partnerships in the city to community organizations that we haven't worked with directly in the past. The Wadi Nisnas Community Center plays a central role in the Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. Mie Shamir, Yahel Haifa City Coordinator, who is spearheading this new collaboration, says — “the community center in Wadi Nisnas lies in the heart of the neighborhood both physically and emotionally. When you enter the space, the immediate feeling is warmth and homely chaos that comes from kids and adults coming in and out and chit-chatting in between their various activities and tasks.”
The community center functions as a central meeting place and hosts various classes and workshops throughout the day. During the pandemic, the center functioned as a vaccination and testing location, and it organized food deliveries for those in quarantine. 

All our Haifa fellows will be volunteering at the center this year,  teaching English to different age groups, both children and adults. In addition, fellows will help the center build up a neighborhood volunteering network with residents. We are thrilled about this new collaboration and look forward to many successful shared projects.
Haifa-based Yahel ellows visiting Matnas Wadi Nisnas during orientation




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Yahel equips young people from around the world with the skills to become life-long leaders of social change, through sustainable service in Israeli communities. Through this work, Yahel creates a nuanced conversation and engagement with Israel.
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