Live, Study and Volunteer in Tel Aviv – Jaffa
With the opening of Mishkenot Ruth Daniel in Jaffa in 2007, we felt that our work in that mixed community should represent our values of mutual understanding and coexistence within the Jaffa context. We also believed that our presence in Jaffa, with a guest house and educational center, would provide us the tools to achieve one of our fundamental goals—to forge stronger bonds between Israel and the Diaspora.
This has led, among our many programs, to the establishment of a major program for young Jews from abroad-Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv–Jaffa. In partnership with Bina (the Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture), and under the auspices of Israel’s MASA Program which supports long term experiences of young people in Israel, Tikkun Olam offers college graduates from around the world the opportunity to live, study, and volunteer in Tel Aviv-Jaffa for 5 or 10 months.
Participants choose either a Social Action track, Coexistence track or Intern Track and volunteer with a variety of organizations dedicated to social action. In the Coexistence track, participants volunteer in Jaffa organizations and institutions, where they experience and promote coexistence among Arabs and Jews. As they seek to uplift the impoverished communities of Jaffa and south Tel Aviv, they also struggle with the complex challenges facing contemporary Israel and seek to define their own Jewish identity.
Participants don’t study and volunteer all the time. The program includes opportunities not only to travel around Israel and to study Hebrew and Jewish culture, but also to experience the extraordinary artistic, cultural, and musical life of one the most innovative and exciting cities in the world. Spenser Solis, a spring 2010 alumni, wrote this on his blog: “For me, I feel more connected to Israel than I ever had before because I finally have been able to take an honest look at this country. It’s easy to say you feel one way about Israel when you aren’t interacting with the people who live there, especially the children. To me, finally accepting the inevitability of understanding that so much of Israel is a gray area has been extremely profound and has only strengthened my identity as a Zionist.”
Natanya Meyer, a 2013 alumni, has written, “Tikkun Olam allows 21-30 year olds interested in Jewish social service a chance to live where they work in the impoverished south Tel Aviv and in the mixed Arab Jewish community of Jaffa– right in the center of populations that spark some of the most controversial social and political conflicts within our modern world and in our Jewish consciousness.”