Strengthening the bonds of the Jewish people

Right decisions aren’t always easy decisions. As a certified teacher with six-and-a-half years of experience and a deep love for Israel, accepting an opportunity to move to Israel for a year with the purpose of bringing my professional skills to the Negev was personally and professionally the right decision for me. The tough part? Choosing to leave behind my family and community I’ve been part of my whole life.

I have attended the same synagogue in Tucson, Arizona, since I was in kindergarten. When I was younger, I fought with my parents about not wanting to go to synagogue, but as I grew older I started to love the High Holy Days.

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Today, I sit here wishing I could attend services at home, but I’m also excited that I get to experience Yom Kippur in Israel and hear the shofar sounded one last time surrounded by my new community of TALMA Teachers.

In America, I have to take personal time off in order to attend holiday services and explain to my students why I’ll be absent from school – but here, it’s a given. Instead of having to explain these holidays to my students, we share with each other how we celebrate and observe.

Rosh Hashanah is about a new year, new beginnings, and celebrating change – a huge reason why I’m here.

I’m here to change the lives of my students in Dimona, make an impact in Mitzpe Ramon where I’m living for the year, develop as a professional through new teaching experiences, and to grow as a person. A big part of why I came here is to change the experience of learning English for students in Israel. The opportunity to learn and speak English with a native English speaker brings learning to life, and I’m excited to bring my experience to the Israeli classroom. I’m also excited for Israel to be my classroom.

With only two days of school completed at the time I’m writing this, students have been hesitant to speak English, but they see that I can’t speak much Hebrew and are eager to teach me. There is a desire from students to communicate with me and it offers a different motivation for them to learn English. Each day I attempt to speak a few more words in Hebrew and my students see me persevering through mistakes and are more willing to be vulnerable in trying to communicate with me in English in return.

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There’s a journey of growth and change ahead for all of us – and while change isn’t easy, it’s worth it.

The past two summers I taught English in Kiryat Malachi with TALMA and saw my students make huge strides in just three weeks. With the year 5779 underway here’s to a new year of diving into English with every effort and no regrets. I can’t wait to see the growth these students and I make! Masa Israel Journey is a joint project of the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency, which has brought over 12,000 young Jewish men and women from 62 countries around the world to participate in volunteer, intern and study programs in Israel. Masa Israel offers dozens of unique programs in a variety of fields: education, hightech, medicine, internships in non-profits, working in government offices and more. Thousands of Masa Israel alumni return to their countries of origin after undergoing extraordinary experiences that brought them to a deep relationship and connection with Israel, the Israeli people and young Jews from all over the world. This bond significantly contributes toward strengthening the Jewish people as well as individual, personal and professional development.

The writer is from Tucson, Arizona, and has taught for the past two years at Kiryat Malachi through the summer program of TALMA: The Israel Program for Excellence and is currently teaching at Dimona through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows with TALMA Negev program.

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