As I sit in a Tel Aviv café, wondering what I did to deserve the cruel irony of moving to Israel from Manchester, UK, just to sit and watch the rain pour down for the past six weeks, I’m reflecting on my experiences with Yahel Israel, an organization that provided me with a truly unique experience.

After considering a couple of volunteer programs in Israel toward the end of 2022, at the last minute I got turned onto Yahel Israel in a moment that, looking back, seems a little bit like fate. Two months later I was in Israel, on the Yahel Social Change Fellowship. The following months that ensued were probably the most meaningful of my life.

Placed in Lod, one of peripheral Israel’s harshest cities, I was presented with the chance to engage in truly impactful and effective work in support of a wide variety of Yahel’s grassroots local partners. As my affection for this city grew, with its multitude of vibrant communities living alongside each other, my experience culminated in initiating and running a two-day arts and culture festival. The festival provided a platform for local artists and brought together its often contrasting communities in celebration. It is an initiative that I am continuing today as an alum, which speaks volumes of the efficacy and sustainability of Yahel’s model of support.

Fast forward a year or so to Oct. 5, 2023, back in the ever-gray landscape of Manchester, when I was offered the role of marketing and recruitment coordinator with Yahel. Playing it cool, I told my director, Dana, that I needed the weekend to consider the offer. I woke up on Oct. 7 to shock and despair. As the shock slowly set in, though, I realized my gut reaction hadn’t changed. It felt fatalistically like elements had combined to enable me to play some small part in rebuilding resilience in Israel. I held off a couple of months, and that is where we find ourselves today, in this café on this slow and rainy Tel Aviv day.

The word that always springs to mind when thinking about Yahel is “diversity.” Diversity in the work that we do, across a range of fields, including English-language teaching, community support and assisting local NGOs. Diversity in the communities we engage with, working in peripheral communities, allowing for a truly authentic Israel experience. Diversity in the education Yahel’s participants receive, in the form of professional development, contextualizing volunteering and interactions with community leaders from across the breadth of Israel’s social, political and religious spectrums. The diversity of the international cohort, providing further nuance and complexity to the experience.

The period since Oct. 7 has been characterized by the resilience of Jewish communities worldwide, as we have seen an outpour of desire to come to Israel to engage in effective service work. There has simply never been a more important time than right now to engage in that work.

If you are looking for ways to be involved in resilience efforts in Israel, I’d love to speak with you, either about our six-week program (for ages 18-40) or the nine-month fellowship (for ages 22-30) I am so proud to have participated in. For those who can, there is a deep need for the longer-term and more consistent presence of inspirational role models for members of Israel’s affected communities.

Book a convenient time to chat, and let’s talk.

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