I know this is a cliche, but these first few have truly flew by in a whirlwind of activity. Last week we spent a lot of time getting to know each other, getting to know the city and the surrounding areas, and getting to know she of the Israelis that are our age and live in the area. Last Wednesday we spent the day with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s Partnership 2Gether program. This program helps connect Detroit and Israel through various programs and missions. The day started off at the Jewish Agency office where the Partnership was explained to my two roommates who did not know about the program. Then, we met up with the Fellows from Nazareth, and we went on a tour of a local kibbutz, Yifat, where one of the Partnership staff lives. We culminated our Partnership 2Gether day with a hummus lunch, where we were joined by a group of Israelis who are our age and all live in the Central Galilee region. This was a great way to meet new people that we can become friends with over the next year!
Thursday was our first chance to meet our teachers, but my teacher’s son was sick that day, so we moved my meeting to Tuesday, the 13th. Instead, I had the morning free to wander the shuk before meeting up with all of the Fellows at a HUGE shopping center, which can only be explained as a gigantic Israeli department store. We met for frozen yogurt and to talk about how the first teacher meetings went, and then we broke off to get supplies for our first Shabbat dinner the following evening.
For Shabbat, we had a potluck dinner at the Nazareth Ilit apartment. The Nazareth Fellows made amazing tacos, and we brought the wine, challah, dessert, and a side dish of potatoes. We were also joined by one of the Israelis we had met at the hummus lunch! The night was filled with great food and incredible company. After dinner, we sat and played some games to continue bonding. We continued our Shabbat by spending Saturday at the pool at Yifat, the kibbutz we visited with the Partnership. After returning home, I made shakshuka for the whole apartment to share for dinner. I have made a goal for myself to not only make, but perfect my shakshuka recipe this year, and my roommates are gracious enough to help in my cause by trying each and every one!
Sunday was spent in a limud (learning day) with Bina. We spoke briefly about the make-up of Israel and its population, and got a brief intro into Talmud a and Tanach. Migdal HaEmek was then invited to have dinner at a friends house, who I met at hummus on Wednesday. This Israeli is new to Migdal HaEmek, and lives a sort of kibbutz lifestyle, but in an apartment, meaning everyone shares one bank account, and they share everything amongst each other. We got to meet some of his apartment-mates and talked about what they are all doing in Migdal HaEmek. Everyone living in the apartment is part of a youth movement that believes in helping each other and volunteering. They all volunteer at different youth centers inbox Migdal HaEmek and in Nazareth Ilit.
I finished off the week with Masa Israel Teaching Fellow’s official Opening Ceremony in Tel Aviv. Overall, there are over 100 ITFs taking part in the program this year, all over the country! It was truly an inspiring experience to be able to meet people from all over who all had their own reasons for giving up a year of their lives to teach English in such an amazing country. I even met one of my best friend’s cousins, who is taking part in the program near Tel Aviv! This event was a great way to get everyone excited for the year to come and tell us of all of the amazing opportunities Masa has in store for us!