(September 21, 2020, Tel Aviv, JNS Wire)
|While Israel is experiencing its second Covid-19 wave, college graduates from the US, UK, Canada and Singapore have landed in Israel to join a 10-month volunteering program in Israel’s periphery.
The program, which is run by BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change and MASA Israel Teaching Fellowship, teams up college graduates with teachers to run English classes in primary schools in Be’er Sheva, Rahat, Nazareth, Ramla, Beit She’an and in the underserved neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv.
Unlike previous programs, this year’s program started with a two-week quarantine in line with Israel’s Covid-19 restrictions for passengers entering the country.
Esther Shimunov surprised her close-knit family in the Bukharan community in Queens, News York, when she announced her plans to join the teaching program in Israel. “Although my family did not expect me to fly to Israel alone to volunteer at the age of 21, they now understand and support me,” Esther said
“I decided to join BINA’s program because I think that especially now in this global pandemic it is important to become involved in social change and activism.”
Esther will spend the first five months teaching at a primary school in Jaffa and later head for another five months teaching at a school in Nazareth. “Logistically, the online training sessions were challenging and I think teaching on Zoom will not be the easiest task,” Esther said. “But the preparation was important and I have already started learning Arabic as I am really excited to work with the Arab-Israeli population.”
Twenty-three year old Hannah Kruntiansky, from Manhattan, New York, arrived in Israel in late August after teaching English in Thailand for several months. After spending two weeks in quarantine with training sessions on Zoom, she is heading to the Bedouin city of Rahat in the Israeli desert to teach a group of junior high school students for five months.
“When my grandparents immigrated to the US after surviving the Holocaust and when my father escaped the military regime in Argentina, they had to overcome a language barrier – to them, learning English was important to build a life in their new country. They inspired me to make English more accessible, especially to marginalized communities.”
Pnina Ezra, BINA’s International Programs Coordinator, accompanied the group from the first day of their arrival. “We at BINA have recently welcomed a group of 45 college graduates who arrived in Israel for a meaningful year long experience as part of the MASA Israel Teaching Fellowship. During quarantine, we provided participants with all necessities starting from food to enrichment programs and social encounters.”
“We and the participants are preparing ourselves for a year full of rapid changes that will require flexibility, but know that being a part of this life changing experience, for the Fellows as well as the kids and communities they work with, is the fulfillment of BINA’s vision of Jewish social change,” Pnina added.