Adventure. This is the best way to describe my Israel Experience. From the initial arrival and commute to Jerusalem, I was sure this was going to be an exciting and challenging journey. I was thrilled to meet new people and get to know the group I would be becoming close with over the next ten months. The first days proved to encompass not only meeting new people, but a full acclimation to a cultural, city, apartment, and a shift in my life.
Coming from New York City, I am used to living in small spaces and fast-paced people. Moving to Petach Tikvah, I quickly realized it is the opposite here, spacious apartment and helpful and patient people. Days involve walks to and from work, getting a free apple along the way from the corner fruit stand, and food shopping in the afternoon at our local Shuk (outdoor market). I was able to dive into some passions of mine, facilitated by the leisurely lifestyle here in Israel. Planting, yoga, and meditation have become a part of my Israel life where it was not possible in New York. Israel was beginning to be the home of developing myself and my character as an individual.
My school and host teacher with whom I work are unique. Learning each other's ways has been interesting. I met my host teacher at a café before the first day of school to discuss our pedagogical views, approaches to class management, and prior experiences. We immediately developed a strong personal report and I knew this was someone I could trust and go to for help. Working with the students has been lovely and they are eager to learn English and work with me in whole groups and one on one basis. I'm learning so much about Israel's education system through this experience.
Trips throughout Israel have been some of my favorite experiences so far. Israel Experience brings us to learn about many social issues throughout the country which I appreciate because I would not see these social dynamics and learn about them otherwise. We learn about the growth of the Bedouin communities of the Negev, struggles of inner-city Tel Aviv, and the cultural peace as a model in Haifa. Eating new foods and hearing from the locals has been eye-opening.
Israel Experience Shabbaton
How could I forget our Shabbaton weekend opportunities?! With three major focus groups on separate weekends, we were able to meet and hear perspectives from people in the program we don't normally spend our time with. My Shabbaton was based on the gorgeous Kinneret Sea in the North of Israel, and I dug deep within myself to think about my personal Jewish identity. Workshops were so relatable with talks about social media and film, as well as hearing other people's stories and backgrounds. I was in awe of the sights and at night we let the days of learning and listening sink in while playing music together, thanks to a friend who brought his guitar!!
The amazing opportunities which are offered through MASA and Israel Experience, are all incredible and I am making sure to seize all of them. I'm meeting biweekly with the Leadership Summit committee, I went to the internationally known General Assembly, and am attending seminars to find my purpose in life. More opportunities are always arising and I love that we have the chance to see Israel through so many different lenses and continue to explore ourselves through unique Israel Experiences.
Nightlife in Israel has been another amazing highlight for me. I love to find new restaurants and go dancing. There is no limit to the new amazing foods and chef restaurants to try; some of my favorites are in Jaffa! When dancing, Israelis are fun and friendly and always want to meet you! It's a great way to meet locals. In contrast, Friday nights with friends, challah and some wine, are the reason I came to Israel in the first place. Whether relaxing or taking in the vibrant night culture of Tel Aviv, the nights are never dull!!