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Leaving Ramat Eliyahu

Today's Blogpost was written by Ariana Solodar-Wincele, a Yahel Social Change fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9-months in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon LeZion. This blogpost was originally posted on Ariana's personal blog.

I’ve been living in Ramat Eliyahu, a low-income neighborhood in the west Rishon Letzion, the fourth largest city in Israel, for the past nine months. It has been full of learning experiences and new connections, friendships and exploration.

Last night I said “see you later” to my wonderful host family. They hosted me for dinners and breakfasts, and I got to know them and their extended family. I waited months until Adele, the daughter (pictured on the right, not wanting to be photographed), finally wanted to play with

me, and I was there to visit grandma after she broke her arm. I shocked the family with my love for traditional Ethiopian injerra and dabo, while they preferred rice and hummus. We have lots of plans that didn’t get to be accomplished, so hopefully I will return to visit them in a few months!

I had several jobs this year: I worked at a legal rights center in the morning (Tebeka, an NGO doing amazing work to create large-scale change for all of Israel), I taught English 1-1 to a few students, and I was a madricha (counselor) for a group called Etgarim. The latter was my personal favorite, if I’m allowed to pick favorites. I loved climbing trees to set up activities for the participants, learning how to rig ropes to create zip lines and elevators, ladders and bridges. My final time building an activity was for the entire community (not just the participants of the program), in the big park in the neighborhood, Gan Menashe. I’d learned how tie the knots and rig the activity, so maybe I can set it up for the enjoyment of a new group of people sometime!

The group of Yahel participants and I will be spending Shabbat together, camping in the north-ish of Israel tonight. We will be returning tomorrow night, before I head to Jerusalem to start working for Ramah Seminar. Earlier this week the other Ramat Eliyahu volunteers and I continued our tradition of home-made pizza after a neighborhood activity at Gan Menashe park.

Even though I’m leaving this neighborhood, I already have plans to return. In August I’ll come back to take some of the Etgarim participants to the Sea of Galilee for a rafting trip, and I know I can’t stay away from my host family for too long. But until then, see you later, Ramat Eliyahu!

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