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What Does it Mean to be a Volunteer?

Today’s blog post was written by Hayley Maybaum, a Yahel Social Change Fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9 months in Lod, Israel.

It’s pretty incredible that I can be preparing Shabbat dinner with my fellow Lodnikim while listening to the Muslim call to prayer outside my window in a building inhabited by Georgian, Ethiopian, and Russian Jews. This is how Lod seems to operate. A place in which diversity and history is bountiful. However, the conflicts within Israel are ever present in this small, sometimes forgotten, city in the center of Israel.

If you take a thirty-minute walk through Lod, a now common activity for me on Shabbat, you will see ancient ruins, mosques, churches, and many synagogues. You can also see interactions among the Jewish and Arab communities, or lack thereof, in a small space while also witnessing the separations within Jewish communities. There is also rich ancient and present history here that seems to be forgotten by the rest of Israel but one that I am so excited to continue to explore and possibly make part of my own history.

a wall in Lod with a painting promoting peace

As a volunteer here, I am grappling with how to contribute to the communities within Lod and how to implement positive change as a temporary resident. I am constantly asking myself how my work will affect those around me and how to fight injustices here in Israel. Having been here for one month, I have already seen the ramifications of global and national politics on a local scale. This also puts into question my purpose here and what I can do to promote social justice and make change as someone who is an outsider. Lod is an incredible place to discover what it means to implement sustainable change and understand the needs on the ground. I look forward to discovering the ways in which I can play a role in helping the local community and hopefully learn a lot about myself in the process.

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