MITF Fellow Ellie Shafron gives snapshots and glimpses into her daily life of living and teaching in Beit She’an with her host family, friends, and students. Read on to discover what a day is like as a MITF Fellow with BINA!
It’s been about two and a half months now since I was dropped off at my new home for the next five months. I had just met everyone I’d be living with, and all of a sudden, we were eating pizza in our new dining room and getting to know one another. That is my favorite little snapshot from day one. As my journey has continued living in Beit She’an, teaching in elementary schools, and exploring the rest of Israel, I want to share a handful of my favorite snapshots of my daily life so far.
Monday, September 5th, 2022
On the evening of September 5th, I joined my host family in Beit She’an to volunteer with an organization that translates to “Together for the soldiers.” We went to a nearby base that specializes in watching Israel’s border with Jordan, and served food and refreshments to the soldiers. It was amazing to meet new people, especially the soldiers even younger than me doing tough work and enjoying the community’s support all the while. After cleaning up all the goodies and my host little sister’s face (she’s 7), we headed back to my host family’s house for a small pit stop. Everyone changed into a bit nicer clothing and we went to my host mom’s cousin’s pre-wedding henna ceremony. What a night this was turning into. I had a little bit of an idea of what to expect- I googled it beforehand- but nothing could have prepared me for the food spread, blessings, dancing, singing, and joy in the room. I don’t know when else in my life I’d ever have the opportunity to attend a Morrocan-Jewish wedding ceremony other than my time living in Israel and having a close connection with a family here, as I do now. It was a pretty cool night.
Saturday, October 22nd, 2022
The Thursday before today, my host mom messaged me telling me that her husband found a rugby game somewhat nearby and asked if I’d like him to take me. I played rugby throughout college and absolutely love the sport, which they know, so I was stoked. We had a visitor from the Tel Aviv group visiting Beit She’an for the weekend, so she and one of my roommates joined us for the rugby game. We drove to Kibbutz Yizre’el, found a random man who just knew what we were looking for, and had us follow him to the rugby pitch. There was a tent of merch set up, a food stand, a beautiful pitch, and natural stone bleachers. It looked just like other rugby events I’d been at before and I was so excited for the game to start. It started shortly after we got there and it was comical to hear how much English from the game transferred to a random game in Israel. Everything was still referred to as it was in English rather than being translated into Hebrew. The home team, Kibbutz Yizre’el, took the win from an exciting game. It was the perfect Saturday afternoon. Once the buses started running again, it was time to head to Tel Aviv to hang out for the rest of Saturday before a Yom Kvutza (group day) at BINA on Sunday. I took the opportunity of being in Tel Aviv to see some of my camp friends from my Jewish overnight camp in Ohio. It was so much fun to be able to have that added sense of home and camp even when I’m across the world.
Tuesday, October 25th, 2022
I walked to school today as I always do, but was greeted in a new way. The school was more lively than ever and I could tell classes were not functioning as normal. It was Rosh Chodesh (head of the month). Because I teach at a religious school, the students had extra prayers to do that morning, and the teachers prepared a spread of pastries, donuts, and chocolate milk. There was music, line dancing, and so many kids running around with huge smiles. All of my students were hugging me, begging me to dance with them, pulling me in every which way, trying to teach me the songs, yelling any English words they knew that could have made sense, and laughing so hard. The first couple of classes were forfeited that day for the morning festivities, but the afternoon class I had that day with the 3rd grade was one of my favorites thus far. We sang songs about colors, sitting and standing, and danced around to some fun American music too.
Tuesday, November 1st, 2022
Election day in Israel. Free public transportation in Israel. I took this day to travel to the nearby cities of Nazareth and Nof Hagalil to visit one of my good friends, also in BINA, and explore new places. From her apartment in Nof Hagalil, we walked the hills into the old city of Nazareth. We went to Amani Cafe for brunch and it was absolutely delicious. We walked through the old city a bit and visited a small art gallery before finding a bus to take us to our next destination. The ‘cow hike’, as it’s been named by the MITF group in Nazareth, is out of nowhere on the side of the road and wraps around a mountain with a gorgeous view over the city of Iksal and far past it. The name is quite fitting– we saw lots of cows on this hike. It was a beautiful day and so much fun to be seeing completely new sights with a great friend. We ended the day with ice cream from Golda at one of Nazareth’s malls and met up with another participant living in Nof Hagalil and their Arabic teacher. It was an incredible day overall.
These are just some highlights from my days living in Israel so far. There are so many amazing opportunities to take advantage of during my time here and I am trying to do just that. Each new day at school is also a new adventure and I absolutely love working with the students. My goal every day is for them to learn something new or hone in on a skill they already have, and have fun while they do. It is so important to make learning English fun and exciting, and I do my best to provide that every day. After these incredible adventures in the first bit of my time here, I can’t wait to see what the rest will bring.
Your favorite Tel Aviv Fellows,
Ellie Shafron is a Fellow in BINA’s MITF+ program