Today’s blog post was written by Amelia Loewensohn, a Yahel Social Change Fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9 months in Lod, Israel.
G: Today I am grateful for my students at El Razi who always keep me on my toes and challenge me! I’m particularly grateful for Bilal who, despite being a terror for the rest of the staff at the school, always makes me smile. Bilal comes from a very rough home and spends most of his time at school in the naughty corner with his book unopened. I’m thankful that for some reason he and I have connected despite having almost no way of communicating and I get the chance to see small changes in his English ability each and every day I spend with him. I’m so glad he has challenged my skills as a teacher, forcing me to practice patience and to develop new ideas for absolute beginners who work at a different pace to their peers.I am also incredibly grateful for my other Yahel Fellows, particularly Joe, who I work with at El Razi, and Hayley, who I work with at Opening Futures. Opening Futures is an after-school English language program connected to El Razi and I’m very thankful that I get to share the immense challenges and successes of working with the children of El Razi with people whose company I genuinely enjoy and who offer great support!
Amelia with a view of Haifa in the background
L: Today I have learnt that it is radically counter-cultural in our day and age to behave as a collective. Rabbi Levi Lauer, the amazing rabbi who has shared his incredible knowledge with us throughout our “Judaism and Social Change” seminar, explained to us that in our contemporary society, in which we are encouraged to be self-interested and to think of ourselves as uniquely individual, it is important that Jews remember to think of ourselves as “we.” In this sense he explains that we must hold ourselves accountable collectively for the issues facing modern day Judaism and modern day Israel. Whilst I have previously felt this sense of responsibility it was wonderful to have it articulated by a person as eloquent and knowledgeable as Rabbi Lauer, who also explained that “comfort is not a Jewish value but meaning is.” In this way it is the duty of any Jewish soul to search for meaning, regardless of the personal discomfort this may cause. As the daughter of a Jewish father and agnostic mother who is undergoing the process of conversion to Judaism I am thrilled to connect my quest for understanding of my faith and identity to a wider cause of shared responsibility and a profound quest for meaning that is bigger than myself.
Amelia working with students at Opening Futures
A: Today I have accomplished small personal goals in terms of my placements. I have successfully started a blog for Fidel, an NGO I work for which serves to support the integration of Ethiopian Jews into wider Israeli society. I have also developed a strong proposal for a “brand ambassador” for Fidel after having read an intriguing article about an Ethiopian artist whose personal story reflects the mission statement of Fidel to a tee. I am hopeful that the completion of these small personal tasks will develop the brand name of Fidel in a way that will increase future donations as well as future participation in their important programs. I have also accomplished incremental improvements in terms of my conversion study, which I work hard at each night with the help of my peers, particularly Joe and Betty, who have been patient and understanding with me whilst I explore this new territory.
Amelia and Yahel Fellow, Hayley Maybaum, in Eilat
D: Today I have taken delight in the language acquisition of my students. Every time that I hear an English word repeated back to me (especially when they attempt to replicate my Australian accent) or see a “light bulb moment,” in which I know a student has finally understood a concept or term, I can’t help but feel incredibly proud of these children and share in their excitement about their growing skills in the English language. In particular I have taken delight in the improvement of my students Mohammed and Abdullah, who normally spend their class time running around the room play fighting each other. These two boys attend my classes with a growing dedication and enthusiasm which motivates and delights me to no end. I have also taken delight in the company of my roommates, who are always there to debrief with after a long day of placements, to celebrate the wins and to commiserate the days that prove more challenging.