This week I believe is the true beginning of our time in Haifa, we've all set off for the first part of our program that we undertake individually and for me that is very exciting. The flat in Haifa we’ve moved into is lovely and I’ve been able to cook almost every night with autonomy in the kitchen which is something I’ve been missing alot. With an intense week ahead I saw it fitting to escape to the mountains for a music festival but more on that later.
This week I began volunteering with an organization called Nitzan, the organisation's aim is to provide a social sphere for high functioning adults with cognitive impairments from the ages of 18-75. My involvement so far has been planning english lessons and cooking classes as well as running and acting and drama class which consisted mostly of theatre games from my time in high school drama. Before coming to Israel I’d spent over a year working with an organisation called team support were we ran theme days for a school for kids with disabilities and Nitzan has been an incredible extension of this work and I’ve missed it alot. After just a week there nitzan looks to be a really incredible organisation, I came to this conclusion very quickly after finding out they offer all 200 participants the opportunity to join everyone on an international trip every 3 years and a retreat within israel annually. I’m very excited to dive into my cooking and english classes next week.
This weekend at the closing of the seminar I headed of to Tzfat for the klezmer music festival and mountainous camping get away. This may have been my best weekend away this year, Tzfat is a beautiful city with such an immersive culture to explore and lovely people to guide you. The night of the klezmer festival your preconceptions of religious jews get thrown at the window as everyone from kids to rabbis and old men in big coats with peyot, men and women all come to dance and party to the wide variety of acts on offer.
In summary this has been a great opening week that is going to lead to an incredible next few months to finish off our year. For a tour of our apartment follow the link.
Below are small pieces the rest of the group has written about their first week volunteering.
Hi I'm Nathan and I chose to volunteer at Robin food. Robin food is a startup restaurant that takes food from local markets and other places that would be originally thrown away due to it not looking right or they have to throw it away and instead take it in and use it for their food. It has been a great time volunteering there, the other people at Robin foods are all also volunteers and are all nice people who care greatly about the place. I've done different things including; sorting, chopping, peeling vegetables. Help clean the place before service and help run a food stand during a street concert. Looking forward to further work with them
I spent my first day at Hagal sheli (My Wave) teaching criminals from a prison how to surf, which was extremely confronting at first. How do you react when you're told that you will be providing support to men from the ages of 20-30 who have committed criminal offences, and the specifics of each one?
Whilst knowing the consequences that these offences can have, I ended up building connections with each of them. It was amazing to watch them enjoy the challenge of surfing and be a part of life outside of jail, also trying to share all of their food with me like a classic Jewish mother. The second day we taught boarding school children who come from families that have recently immigrated to israel and/or underprivileged homes. The whole atmosphere of the Hagal sheli surf shack makes me feel at home and has built such a positive community around itself.
It has been so far an enlightening experience to interact with the Nitzan community. Not only are the people lovely, but the positivity and innovation that frames the program truly has made the experience so far a really enjoyable and fulfilling time. I have really enjoyed my experience so far, and I can’t wait to really delve into more activities and to be further interstates into the greatness that is the Nitzan community
This week I (Michael Sucks) have been volunteering at a community centre in Neve David, a suburb in the west of haifa, near the beach. The bus ride is long, but definitely worth it. Now that I've gotten to know the kids somewhat, I hope to try and teach them some English, and perhaps some of what we learnt on Lotan.