Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach! Spending Passover in Israel has been an interesting and introspective experience for me. My family is here visiting me, and I’ve taken a week off to spend time with them and reflect on my past 7 months in Israel. Click “read more” to see a little something I wrote for the BINA Passover newsletter…
Israel is in bloom, and Passover is upon us. The sight of flowers in the Jordan Valley has made me stop and take a breath of fresh air, as I honor the exodus our ancestors took through the desert to come to this beautiful place.
The struggle for freedom never ends, as I’ve learned in my semester with Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The faces of African asylum seekers in the Physicians for Human Rights Free Clinic in Jaffa tell stories of suffering in Egypt as they cross into Israel, only to be greeted by a never-ending debate over balancing humanitarian values with the needs of the Jewish state. The voices of people I interview in Jaffa resonate in my ears: they fear their community is falling apart as housing prices skyrocket and racist hate crimes drive divisions between Jews and Arabs. I bear witness each day to the struggle of teachers and parents to make ends meet for their children, who are hungry to learn but interrupted by budget shortages, rumbling bellies, and rockets falling from the prison of Gaza, where another struggle continues tirelessly for life and liberation.
Despite the hardships, BINA has given me hope for the renewal of the Jewish journey toward freedom. Through my studies at the Secular Yeshiva in South Tel Aviv, I’ve pocketed language and text for use in my own struggle to determine my Jewish identity, independent from singular and orthodox ideas about what gives a person the right to call herself a Jew. I’ve learned histories of Zionism and narratives of Arabs in Israel, seen the tents on Rothschild, and toured communities on Israel’s periphery. I’ve celebrated holidays and kabbalot shabbat with my Tikkun Olam family, and sat in peer-led text study about Jacob’s struggle which gave name to the Israelites as “those who wrestle with God.” Thanks to BINA, I am able to wrap a rich cultural and spiritual web around me at the beginning of each week, as I join hands with my Israeli friends and enter into each neighborhood we work with to achieve liberation and a better life.
Happy Pesach, and here’s to a year of peaceful struggle and freedom for all.
BINA Development & Communications Assistant
Tikkun Olam Participant Fall 2011