• Nir Kafri, The Jewish Agency for Israel ©
Jewish Social Action

Not Just Seeing Israel - Giving Back

While Yakov Platt had been to Israel before, this time was different. "With Project TEN, I wanted to come to Israel and be active. Not just take a look at Israel - I wanted to help people in Israel,” says Platt, 24, who is volunteering on The Jewish Agency’s Project TEN program. The program sends impassioned young Jews from across the globe to help in underprivileged communities. Project TEN operates volunteer centers in Ghana, Uganda, Mexico, South Africa and Israel.

"Project TEN is a program which is all about contributing to Israel," says Yakov Platt, as he sits in the Western Galilee overlooking the majestic landscape. 

Platt, a 24-year-old from Chicago is currently in Israel on The Jewish Agency’s Project TEN program, sometimes referred to as the ‘Jewish Peace Corps'. The program sends impassioned Jews from across the globe to underproveleged communities in countries around the world, including in Israel, to volunteer and make a difference. These activities include implementing much-needed educational and agricultural projects, ranging from language training to sustainability and agricultural development.

In Israel, Platt was assigned to Kibbutz Hardouf in the Western Galilee, a Kibbutz maintained by Jewish and Arab co-Center Directors and Project Coordinators. There, he was immersed in a completely new culture, and worked to assist the local community and bridge barriers between the region’s diverse population. 

"Twice a week I teach English to Arab-Bedouin children, twice a week I work with senior citizens and people with disabilities, and one day a week I stay on the Kibbutz and work on things connected to sustainability," Platt explained. "My friends in the United States think there is only tension between Arabs and Jews - constant battle. But what I am seeing is much different. There is a special coexistence between Muslim Bedouin of the Galilee and the Jews who live here.”

Returning to the US soon, Platt says he is excited to share the experiences he had in Israel, both of the great work he did and also to disprove the myths about segregation between peoples. It is an experience that has undoubtedly shaped his life forever. 

“Anyone who comes here, to the project, for five months will get a life experience, an amazing look into parts of Israeli society,” he added.

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This story was originally reported by Nathan Roi for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

 

18 Oct 2017 / 28 Tishrei 5778 0
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