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Alumni Spotlight: Jake

Jake was a member of Yahel Social Change Fellowship 2018-19 cohort. Check out what he's been up to since moving on from Yahel!

What were some of your activities while on the fellowship?

While living in Lod for nine months, I: (a) taught English with another fellow to a group of Jewish and Arab young adults - the course became a small community where we shared traditions, cultures, values, and eventually political opinions; (b) worked with Ethiopian-Israelis in a technology training course - I helped with resumes, LinkedIn, public speaking, etc; and (c) taught English in an Arab middle school.

I also spent a lot of time traveling to different areas in the region, and spent many Shabbats with my host family in Lod and other people in the community.

What are you doing now?

Both of my main jobs came through Yahel connections. I work in resource development at an NGO in Tel Aviv called the Shaharit Institute. I also facilitate Arab-Jewish encounters and negotiation skills courses with the Pathways Institute for Negotiation Education. And, I cook in a Mexican restaurant.

Tell us about your Model Municipality project.

During Yahel, I initiated a Model-UN style simulation of the Lod city council for Arab and Jewish high school students. I first proposed the idea in October 2018 - the project launched in September 2019 and ended in December.

With the help of Yahel staff and our network, I found local partners and brought a proposal to the Lod education department, which passed it to the Deputy Mayor, who approved and funded the project.

Over 140 students from six high schools in Lod met through the project. The students learned about local issues in their community, and proposed solutions to the city government.

What has stayed with you from the fellowship?

I learned to try as hard as possible to seek out, and have deep empathy for, all positions, even (and especially) when they are conflicting. It stayed with me to prioritize holding that conflict, recognizing it, and being ok with sitting in the middle.

Do you have any favorite memory or story from your time with Yahel?

An Arab student in the English course I taught invited us to her house for a Ramadan break-fast. Many of the Jewish students were right-wing religious nationalists who were born in West Bank settlements. This was their first time in an Arab home and their first encounter with Ramadan. The students all connected over fasting - what do you eat to break the fast? what are the best strategies for making it through? - and exhibited inspiring curiosity and modesty. And, the food was great.

Thank you to Jake for updating us on all of his wonderful work! We're happy to keep hearing from alumni and all the great things that they do.

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