Yahel - Israel Service Learning |  The People Who Inspire Us

Over the past three years, I have had the privilege to work closely with many grassroots social change activists around the country. Our participants have seen first hand the value of building long-lasting relationships with partners, and together we have been inspired by the tireless efforts of many different leaders who are shaping the face of Israel today.

In this newsletter we have decided to spotlight some of the inspiring leaders we partner and collaborate with. I am happy to say that this is a partial list and that there are many more people with whom we feel privileged to work. I hope you enjoy reading about the work of these wonderful individuals and look forward to continue introducing you to current and new partners in the months to come.

Dana Talmi, Director


Ra'ed Al-Mickawi, Director of Bustan
Grassroots Change with the Negev's Bedouin

Ra'ed has had a close relationship with Yahel since 2010. As the Director of Bustan, he has hosted many Yahel groups in Bustan’s Eco-Tourism and Sustainability project in Kasser A-Ser. Here, our program participants have learned first-hand about the challenges of the Bedouin communities in the Negev and the ways in which Bustan addresses these challenges at the grassroots level. The Yahel Social Change Program visited Bustan most recently this February and this summer, Onward Israel - Repair the World participants will work with Bustan on projects supporting organizational development and partnership building.

Ra’ed was born and raised in the government planned township of Tel Sheva in the Negev. He studied filmmaking and journalism in the Sapir Academic College and in 2007 established the revolutionary internet-based television station He participated in the Heschel Center fellowship for social and environmental leadership in 2008 and in the fellowship program of Community Solutions sponsored by the US Department of State and implemented by IREX in 2012.

Heywan Alias, Friends By Nature Youth Coordinator
Building a Strong Future For Children

“It's so important to invest in children and to give them all of the tools possible in order to create a better future in Israel."

Heywan has been involved with Yahel Insight Programs for the last 3 years, as a friend, community leader and host.  Heywan is an active member of Gar’in Ichud in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood in Rishon L'Tzion, a community of activists who live within the neighborhood and organize community projects from within.

Heywan works as the Coordinator for the local Youth Center, an opportunity she loves, as she believes deeply that “children are our future.” Heywan has recently been accepted to the ROI Community, an international network of activists and change makers who are redefining Jewish engagement for the next generation. Heywan made aliyah from Ethiopia with her family when she was about three years old. She is the younger sister of Kes Samai, one of the founders of Gar'in Ichud in Ramat Eliyahu.

Dr. Dalia Fadila, Founder of Q Schools
Bringing Empowering English Education to Arab Citizens of Israel

For the last several months, Yahel had been developing a relationship with Dr. Dalia Fadila with the intention of partnering in 2014 through service learning programs with Q Schools - private schools that work to develop students' self esteem through English language education. This past winter, the Yahel Social Change Program visited her in the town of Tirah to learn about some of the specific challenges facing the Arab population in learning the English language and her responsive program that aims to use English education to empower Arab youth. She is currently provost of Al-Qasemi Academy, an Arab college of education in Israel where she also served as President in 2006. She is deeply invested in promoting quality education for Arab students and empowering Arab women as educators, entrepreneurs and leaders.

Maayan Ravid, Resource Development and Partnership Building at Friends By Nature, Activist
Promoting Social Justice and Multiculturalism from San Francisco to Gedera

The Yahel Social Change Program participants have known Maayan for many months as a dedicated staff member for Friends by Nature in Gedera. The Yahelnikim recently discovered that outside of her professional work, she is also an avid activist in Southern Tel Aviv, volunteering with Israeli non-profits, supporting Sudanese grassroots initiatives and fostering personal relationships with individuals and families. This past April, Maayan coordinated a trip with the Yahel Social Change Program to meet African Asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv by meeting with representatives from Koach LaKehila, The Sudanese Union, The Joint Distribution Committee- Israel and Bnai Darfur. There, they were able to see the living realities in the neighborhood and meet with various community leaders and organizations engaged in addressing local needs. 

Maayan was born in the United States and grew up on both Kibbutz in Israel and in the San Francisco Bay Area during her family's shlichut (time as an emissary) for the Jewish Community Federation. This duality has led Maayan to explore issues of multiculturalism, identity narratives and immigration in different ways and contexts. Maayan completed her bachelor's degree in Political Science and History of the Middle East and Africa at Tel Aviv University.

Rabbi Levi Lauer, Founder of Atzum
Addressing Urgent Needs In Israel, One Person at a Time

“The essential ingredients to being a serious agent of social change are the courage to fail (humility) and believing that you do not have the right to be tired.”

Levi has been involved with Yahel since its inception as a member of its original advisory board. Since 2010 he has been a senior educator with the Yahel Social Change Program, leading a unit on Jewish Ethics.  In the words of one of our current Yahel Social Change Program participants, “Levi was an inspiration for me to learn more about Judaism and explore my Jewish roots more. Our learning sessions together related Jewish teachings as a framework for universal compassion -- a lens I’ve never encountered before.”

Rabbi Levi Lauer grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Israel in 1976. He has served in a reserve combat artillery unit in Zahal for 11 years, was previously a Hillel Director, Executive Director of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and Director of Rabbinic Education at the Shalom Hartman Institute. In 2002 he established ATZUM, an organization that addresses the needs of people who are too often ignored. ATZUM supports Survivors of Terror Families, the Righteous Among the Nations, rescuers of Jewish life during the Shoah who came to Israel to live after the founding of the State, leads major campaigns against human trafficking and much more.

Yahel News:

Mazal tov to Avi and Perach Dnku on the birth of their son! Avi and Perach are both members of the Gar'in (activist community) in Gedera. Avi played a major role with Yahel during its first year and Perach has been a dedicated staff member of Friends by Nature for the last several years.  We are excited to see the beautiful addition to their family and we want to offer warm wishes for their continued health and happiness.

We are thrilled to welcome Moshik Lichtenstein as the new Director of Programs.  Moshik will oversee all of Yahel's Insight Programs - alternative break, congregational and summer programs. Raised in Moshav Ramot in the Golan Heights, Moshik recently earned his MA in Politics and Government from Ben Gurion University. He lives in Be’er Sheva where he has been involved in different social activism projects. Welcome Moshik!

Want to spend 9 months MAKING A DIFFERENCE?

We still have a few spaces open for outstanding applicants to join our 16 participant cohort for the fourth year of the Yahel Social Change Program - our 9 month post-college service learning program.

Participants will spend the year in an Ethiopian-Israeli community, working in grassroots social change efforts in partnership with local community leaders and the Israeli nonprofit Friends by Nature. The program will be run in the Shapira neighborhood of Gedera and the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon L'Tzion.

Know college graduates passionate about social change? Connect us!

Forward this email or connect them directly to Ross, our recruitment coordinator:

Spotlight on Volunteering

Several Yahel Social Change Program participants spend part of their week in local schools, where they collaborate with teachers in support of students' English studies in one-on-one and small group settings.

Pictured above, Samantha Sisisky describes how her work, "helps some students who are struggling and helps advance those who are already ahead of the curve.  I love helping build a child’s confidence in English, and it's amazing to watch our students progress!"

Passionate about our work?

Consider supporting our work for social change with a donation:


Take Strides to Make Strides!

Thank you for your support!

Yahel, Friends by Nature and our supporters ran in the Tel Aviv Marathon this March to promote our shared vision for a more tolerant Israeli society. Training with Ethiopian-Israeli Olympic Marathon runner Wadj Zavadiyeh, a team of over 20 runners ran to help us raise over $11,000 to support our work and the work of Friends by Nature.


Yahel in the Media:

Have you been reading about us?

  • An article in Haaretz highlights Yahel and the unique value of the service-learning model of engagement with Israel.
  • Curious about the life of a Yahel Social Change Program Participant? Ynet picked up a personal account from alumna Drew Fidler, in Hebrew!
  • You can also read about the day-to-day life of our current Yahel Social Change Program participants in English, in the Yahel Blog.

Upcoming Yahel Programs

We're very excited for our upcoming...
  • Teen Service Learning Program in Yavneh with teens from Camp Tawonga. July - August 2013

Connect With Us:

Proud Grantee of:

A Masa Program:

The Yahel Social Change Program is a Masa Israel Journey approved program. Grants of up to $3,750 available.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 1692
Zichron Yaakov, 3093816

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