This interview is part of the Yahel Alumni Spotlight Series, where we catch up with past Yahel participants to hear about their experience with Yahel and what they’re up to now.
It’s been 7 months since alumna Sofy Maxman left Israel after 9 months of volunteering with Yahel. She is an alumna of the Yahel Social Change Fellowship '16-'17. We recently caught up with Sofy to hear about her experiences on Yahel and how she has seen Yahel's impact since the program ended.
Yahel: Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
Sofy: I am a 23 1/2 year-old native New-Yorker who has left the comfort of the big city and recently flocked to a smaller city. I graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 2016, and have been chatting about Sociology & Women, Gender, and Sexualities ever since. I love coffee, french fries, puns, and stickers.
Y: So Sofy, what are you up to now?
Sofy: I live in Philadelphia! I just recently (in the midst of snowstorms and wild winds) started a job with Hillel/JRP at the University of Pennsylvania. I am joining as an “Engagement Associate,” through which I will spend the majority of my time drinking coffee with students and discussing their “Jewish Selves/Journey” with them!
Y: What did you do while on the fellowship?
S: While living in Lod, I volunteered at the Sapir School with kids in grades 3 through 8. I also worked at Na’am (Arab Women in the Center), The Lod Young Adult Center, and Dor L’Dor, speaking with an adorable old woman each week. I also ate far too much pita and hummus, and unfortunately have not been able to since.
Y: What was your biggest take-away from the fellowship?
S: That’s really hard to say.. I feel like I learned a lot about myself as a Jewish person, and separately from that, how to be someone who actively works to make the world a more accepting, inclusive, diverse, warm place. I guess one of my biggest take-aways would be the importance of listening to people who have different opinions, beliefs, understandings, and backgrounds, then you do yourself, because that’s really the only way you will be able to stay grounded in your ideologies and certainties.
Y: How did you bring what you learned on Yahel back home with you?
S: I don’t think I would be working the job I am working had I not done Yahel—I actually know that to be true! I am a much more inquisitive Jew than I was prior to the program. I’ve also become much more dedicated to spending my free time volunteering, which I have been able to do loads of recently, and have found a lot of fulfillment and joy in.
Y: What was your favorite Yahel moment?
S: Definitely the Negev Seminar. I don’t know if I have ever spent so many consecutive days learning so many new things, and not wanting it to end. Every part of that seminar was incredible, and I think about it very often.
Thank you, Sofy! It was great to hear about the amazing work that you are doing now and how Yahel helped play a role in it. We can't wait to hear about the amazing work that you continue to do.