Dear Americans In Touch,
At the end of a stressful yet very enjoyable week. Here’s what happened:
- After our last packing day on Sunday, Section 1 of Year Course officially moved out of Beit Ar-El this past Monday. It was sad to leave, but we all left with high hopes and ambitions for Bat Yam, the coastal town that would become our new home. First though, we stayed for a night with the rest of Year Course in some Bedouin tents in the Negev. The Negev is an arid, desert region, and it makes up 60% of Israel’s land. Bedouins are nomadic Arabs who have spent generations traveling in deserts like the Sinai and the Negev, and as a result, they have their own interesting culture and language. I felt the place that we stayed at was a little bit too touristy, but it was very nice to see the other two sections and meet more people from them, since I have limited interaction with those sections. We spent Monday night sleeping in the tents. The next day, we went camel-riding and hiking near De Mona in the desert.
- Later on during Tuesday, we finally arrived in Bat Yam. My roommates and I were driven to our new apartment, 13 Hadadi St. Unfortunately, it is the most northern Year Course apartment in Bat Yam, but it makes up for it by being one of the nicest that Year Course gives. In addition, because my friends all live a bit of a trek away, I get to know the layout of the city very well and very quickly, which is important. We went through orientation on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bat Yam, as I said before, is a coastal city about a 10 minute bus ride from Tel Aviv. It is not a large city (estimated population of about 130,000) but it is a large center for immigration, specifically Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. It is also not a very wealthy city, so there are many issues with the quality of schools, hospitals, and other services that are offered in the community. Because of these issues, the primary focus of the Bat Yam semester is volunteering, and each member of Section 1 is assigned to their own volunteer option. A few months ago, I took a course with Magen David Adom to work as an EMT, and I will begin volunteering at the station in Chulon (one city over the the east) with two other Year Coursers. I was invited to a Hanukkah celebration at the station Thursday night and met a lot of the employees and other volunteers. They all seem like great group of people and I can not wait to get started.
In addition, due to Young Judaeas partnership with the Israeli Scouts (Tzofim), members of the scouts live in Year Course apartments during Bat Yam and join our section for most of our programming. Unfortunately, my apartment does not have a scout, but I have met all of them and they are all very nice. I am looking forward to spending time with them and getting to know them better.
- Year Course began its winter break this past Thursday night. Fortunately for me, my family was generous enough to come and visit me here in Israel! I am very happy to be with them, since I have not seen them in three months. I will be going on vacation with them around Israel and will be taking about a week off of my messages, with the exception of one message next week to talk a bit about Hanukkah, which I have not explained at length just yet (do not worry, it is on the way!) But until then, I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom, Hanukkah Sameach (Happy Hanukkah), and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
P.S. Good win by the Bengals last week against the Rams. If we can just pull out the next two weeks against Arizona and Baltimore, we might make the playoffs!