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Community- the meaning and importance of it

Today's blogpost was written by Elina Bruk, a Yahel Social Change fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9-months in the city of Rishon LeZion.

The Yahel Social Change Fellows with the their hosts Beit Jan, members of Ofakim L'Atid's youth division

The Hebrew word for the concept community is “Kehila”, which can be translated to as a congregation or an assembly. Community is an entity which provides comfort, support and reassurance. The context the of concept of community can be very extended in a sense that it can cover both nation-wide communities that exist on the macro-level of the societal structures and it can also be referred to small clusters of individuals where the interaction between the individuals is based on personal relationships.

The key for creating a community is that the basis of any community lies on exchanged communication that could be based on shared values, ideology, religion and goals.

Over the three-day long seminar in northern parts of Israel which took place 15.11.2018-17.11.2018, the Yahel fellows were provided the privilege of meeting with different communities in northern part of Israel, for example the urban Kibbutz in Nazareth Ilit, the pluralistic Jewish Kibbutz of Hannaton and the Druze community of Beit Jan.

Kibbutz-communities played a major role by providing security during the time when the formation of the state of Israel was only taking its first steps. The urban kibbutz of Nazaret Ilit is a modern adaption of traditional kibbutz where the drive to accomplish a mission has shifted its form from creating a platform to meet the basic needs through agriculture to emphasize creating a platform for a social change. The community is engaged in various platforms to create greater educational equity in an area where 39 % of the residents live on welfare with different racial subgroups co-existing poorly.

The pluralistic Jewish Kibbutz of Hannaton has approached the idea of creating a community that lives together and shares property at least to some extent mutually by embracing the ideology of all sects of Judaism living together. Practical support for the members of the community is provided by ensuring accommodation for each member of the community by helping those in need who struggle with their health and with adaptation to a new phase in life, for example after having more children. Albeit communities such as Kibbutz-communities provide for their members, safery, security and continuity, living in a community requires sometimes also negotiations, forgiveness and compromises.

A very different example of a community in Israel is the Druze community of Israel, which is one Israel`s national minorities. This millennium-old community has its own unique heritage and religion and has been loyal to the state of Israel ever since the state of Israel was established. The Druze community has its own unique character as the religion which was open for joining at its initial steps of existing, is nowadays closed for outsiders to enter.

When Yahel fellows visited the Druze community residing in Beit Jan, we were greeted with much hospitality and affability. During our stay in Beit Jan, the Yahel fellows had an opportunity to learn from members of the Druze community personally how they perceive their position and rights in Israel and likewise they had the opportunity to get to know Yahel fellows. The exchange of ideas, thoughts, laughs and delicious meals made our stay very pleasant. When it came to time say goodbye to each other, both the Yahel fellows and the members of the Druze community felt that the meeting made a lasting impression and the meaning of community was extended for both parties.

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