06 Jan Volunteering in Diverse Israeli Communities through Masa
Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Micaela, 23, grew up with deep ties to Judaism. She attended Jewish day school, went on March of the Living to Poland and Israel at age 16, and was passionate about Israeli history and culture. After the unrest in Israel during Guardian of the Walls in May 2021, she knew she wanted to spend time in Israel to better understand what Israeli citizens deal with in their daily lives.
“I wanted to serve the country in some way, and I thought that doing social work and helping Israel’s citizens while getting to know the different communities here was a great way for me to meet that goal,” shared Micaela. “And that’s why I chose to participate in Masa Volunteering – because everyone is able to get to know different parts of this country and Israel itself in an in-depth and unique way. Participants have a meaningful and life-changing experience while also promoting the well-being and progress of the country.”
Specifically, Micaela is taking part in the Yahel Social Change Fellowship, which puts fellows at the forefront of social issues facing Israel and equips them with the tools to create real, lasting change. Currently, Micaela is doing social work in the city of Lod, in central Israel, near Tel Aviv. During the week she volunteers in different places, and she has the opportunity to assist and engage with different sectors of Israeli society such as Ethiopian Jews, religious and Haredi Jews, asylum seekers from Sudan, Darfur, and Eritrea, and with Arab young adults and kids.
“The school I’m volunteering at is in a small and low socio-economic Arab neighborhood in Lod. Some kids there don’t have much in-depth interaction with people outside their community and they were surprised when I told them I wasn’t Muslim or Christian, but Jewish,” recounted Micaela. “They didn’t understand how the Jewish community works worldwide and also helps people who aren’t Jewish and were curious why a Jew from Argentina would be in their school helping them with English.”
Micaela is enjoying how the kids are opening up to her, speaking about their personal experiences and daily life. One of the main reasons she signed up for the Yahel Social Change Fellowship was because she wanted to get to know the stories and perspectives of the different communities in Israel’s diverse society.
“Masa Volunteering programs establish understanding and awareness. They connect people who probably would never meet otherwise and encourage social cohesion by strengthening ties between the different groups that compose Israel’s society,” said Micaela. “My relationship with Israel and with Judaism has become stronger because Masa allowed me to experience this country for months at a time while being truly immersed in the many local environments that make up our shared homeland.”