The Repair the World Onward Israel Service Learning Initiative is a 6-week immersive Jewish service-learning program based in Be'er Sheva followed by leadership development and community engagement on campus.

Come spent 6 weeks doing meaningful community-driven service in one of the most fascinating cities in Israel! Volunteer in the local non-profit sector, working in community gardens, teaching English or mentoring children and families at a woman's shelter. You will get to know some of Be’er Sheva’s diverse community including immigrants from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union as well as the Bedouin population. Learn firsthand about the unique character of Be'er Sheva while living and working in one of its neighborhoods. You will encounter diverse social change initiatives in the Negev region and the rest of the country as you engage with Israel through the lens of social change. The program includes training to prepare you to be a student leader on campus when you treturn to school.


Location: Be'er Sheva

Program Dates: June 23- July 31, 2014

 On Campus: 2014-15 Academic Year


Program Fee: 


  • Non-refundable application fee upon applying: $100.
  • Deposit to secure place in program upon acceptance: $200.


Program includes full board, accommodations, insurance, transportation and all program expenses.


Participants are responsible for arranging their own flights.  


How to Apply:


The applications process has two steps: 

1. Preliminary Application - Please click here to complete your preliminary application. 

2. Complete Application - Students who have received nominations from their local Hillels will be given a link to the full Yahel application for the program.


Questions? Contact: 

Rachel Olstein Kaplan

P: (Mon - Fri) 802.440.0500

E: rachelok@yahelisrael.com


In Their Words - Quotes from Participants in the 2013 Program

“I found the program extremely meaningful. I feel that I have emerged from the program with a more refined perspective of Israel. I am committed to remaining connected with and standing up for Judaism and Israel. I am dedicated to engaging others with social change in the context of Judaism and Israel. I am devoted to helping to empower marginalized, struggling, and up and coming communities.”

“I am leaving this program more confident, empowered, experienced, motivated, inspired, changed, and thankful. Each and every experience impacted me in some way and I am sad it came to an end. The group was diverse and at first it was really difficult. I am now so thankful to have had such intelligent people by my side for the past 6 weeks!”

“This program was absolutely life-changing for me. It challenged me to think in a lot of different ways and expanded my perspectives on Israel and a lot of issues. It was a very meaningful experience because I feel like I have grown tremendously and done a lot of self-reflection as well. I am walking away with the skills to advocate for Israel more realistically, with the ability to see and accept its imperfections, and with the desire to come back to this country and fix these issues. I am also walking away with the idea that these issues exist everywhere, and while it is hard to fix them all, I want to be able to share this experience with others and to work toward having a more peaceful, just world.”



Program Description

Where will I volunteer?

About 25 hours a week will be dedicated to service through placements with different organizations in Be'er Sheva. Service will include individual or team placements with local organizations as a well as a group project.

Examples of individual volunteer placements:  

Support food security initiatives in the region and help provide nutritious meals to families in need with Be'er Sova.

  1. Work with children and families in an educational and fun setting at a women's shelter in Be'er Sheva.
  2. Teach English to small groups of Bedouin youth with Ma'an, an organization that helps promote Bedouin women's rights.
  3. Work alongside Ethiopian immigrants in urban agriculture projects with Earth's Promise.
  1. Support bilingual, multicultural education for Arab and Jewish children at Hagar





What will I learn?

The learning component will include:


Contextual Learning: Participants will learn about the complexity of social, economic and environmental issues facing Be’er Sheva and the residents of the Negev.  Read more...


Cross Cultural Training: The program includes a general training on cross cultural communication skills as well as an introduction to the different cultures, ethnicities and religions represented in Be’er Sheva and the Negev.


Jewish Learning: Yahel’s Jewish learning curriculum engages participants with some of the core ethical questions related to their service experience.  Read more...


Reflection: Throughout the 6-week program, Yahel will create periods of reflection, both formal and informal, to ensure that participants have ample opportunity to process their immersive experience.  Read more...


Will there be travel as part of the program?

The program will include extensive travel opportunities both in the Negev region and throughout Israel. Day trips will explore Be’er Sheva and the Negev region in-depth and will include visits to neighboring development towns, Bedouin villages, outdoor activities and meetings with a variety of social change initiatives. Additional travel will include visits to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and a three-day community seminar in the North. The aim of the travel component is to allow participants to experience Israel through the lens of social change.


Where will I be living?

Accommodations will be in 3-person furnished apartments in the Daled neighborhood of Be'er Sheva. Each apartment will be fully furnished and will have Wi-Fi internet access.

Why Be'er Sheva?

Be’er Sheva is the capital of the Negev region of Israel and is the 7th largest city in Israel with a population of nearly 200,000 people. It is home to a diverse population of Jews and Arabs. Read more...


What is community based service-learning?

Yahel's programs use a community-based service learning model. Partnering with local organizations and initiatives allows Yahel to base the service work on local expertise and ensure that participants contribute in a meaningful way to a variety of valuable programs and organizations. This partnership provides participants with a holistic view of community development through civic engagement. For the Repair the World Onward Israel Service Learning Initiative, Yahel has chosen to partner with the Be’er Sheva-based Kama Urban Kibbutz and their nonprofit organization, Tor Hamidbar. Read more... 


What will I do as a leader when I return to campus?

After an eye-opening and transformative summer in Be’er Sheva, you will return to campus inspired to commit to regular direct service projects and engage peers in service work. You will be encouraged to share reflections with your peers about the relationship between social justice (e.g. environmentalism, refugees, and poverty alleviation) and Israel. Post-trip involvement and activism is a requirement for participation in the program.


Walk away from this trip with: 

An understanding of multiculturalism and diversity in Israel.

An understanding of community organizing work.

Connections to individuals in Israel that are involved in social and environmental change efforts.

A deeper relationship with Israel based on understanding its complexities.

Inspiration to be an active change maker.



 Meet Our US-based Staff


Rachel is the Associate Director of Yahel Israel Service Learning. Rachel’s interest in social justice began in 1999 when she volunteered for a year with AmeriCorps. She received her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in urban education and French and served as president of the school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. After graduating, she taught second grade at a school for under-privileged youth. She then worked in experiential education leading service trips to India and the Azore Islands and teaching at the Teva Learning Center, where she now serves as a board member. Rachel has a master’s degree in community leadership and nonprofit management from Hebrew University where she focused her studies on international development and volunteer management. Before joining Yahel, Rachel worked as the director of volunteer services at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village in Rwanda. She developed and managed the Village's short-term service learning program, its year-long professional service corps and local outreach volunteer programs.


For more information on our summer program, please contact Dana Talmi at dana@yahelisrael.com | 919-416-3333.



About Onward Israel 


Onward Israel offers exciting resume building opportunities - internships, service learning, academic study and fellowships - providing a global, cross-cultural experience in Israel and direct contact with Israeli peers. Participants in each program come from the same community or organization - creating an opportunity to build local networks and carry on connections after the program.  

Onward Israel is powered by the Jewish Agency and participating local Jewish federations and organizations. 





Repair the World is building a movement to make service a defining element of American Jewish life, learning and leadership. Headquartered in New York City, Repair the World connects individuals with meaningful service opportunities to help their local, national and global communities. It enables individuals and organizations to run effective programs rooted in Jewish values.



For over 80 years, the Jewish Agency has served as the link between the Jewish people and Israel, working to ensure the future of a connected, committed, global Jewish People with a strong Israel at its center. Today, the Jewish Agency is redirecting its primary focus toward the greatest challenge we currently face as a people – strengthening the Jewish identity of young Jews in both the Diaspora and Israel. Our mission is to inspire Jews throughout the world to connect with their people, heritage, and land, and to empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and a strong Israel.


Negev Hike



Click here to go to Onward Israel's homepage