Ali Goldberg, a participant on the BINA MITF TLV + Bet Shean, reflects on her experience in her new home-away-from-home in Beit She’an.
About two weeks ago, the city switchover occurred and as nervous as I was for it, I would say everybody, myself included, has adjusted well. In just a blink of an eye, my regular, busy city life routine in Tel Aviv was traded in for a more simple and even therapeutic lifestyle in Beit Shean.
Beit Shean, a city just south of the Sea of Galilee where the Harod and Jordan valley meet, is filled with beautiful springs, captivating mountains, and lush flora and fauna. The north of Israel is a picturesque and enchanting landscape that seems otherworldly compared to the rest of the country. My time thus far in the North has had no shortage of new experiences and loads of new friends! When we first arrived, everyone was a bit fatigued after moving out and receiving our first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but we all settled in fairly smoothly and quickly.
Within our first week, our apartment had already made friends with some of the locals our age! We’ve come to realize that Beit Shean is a very warm, friendly, and tight knit community. We’ve not only been accepted everywhere we’ve been to, but truly welcomed with open arms-and food, lots and lots of food. From having new friends over for drinks, going on adventurous Jeep tours on Mount Gilboa, cooking Shabbat dinners together, and exploring hot springs, Beit Shean has been nothing short of a delightful time.
Although I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks, I am truly taken back by how quickly such special relationships have formed. Our local friends here have given us Italian style wood-fired pizza and have really become our own personal tour guides throughout the valley.
BINA has also proven to us how unique Beit Shean truly is. It’s the only city on the program that provides host families and the fellows here also have a very strong relationship with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. These two aspects alone have made the transition so much more comfortable. Our host families and the partnership have showered us with gifts, Shabbat dinners, and a true sense of community. We have been embraced every Friday to our families houses like one of their own and the partnership has even been so kind as to give us keys to their headquarters so that we can teach on Zoom from there.
I was really nervous about how the transition from Tel Aviv to Beit Shean would impact me, but I’ve come to learn more about myself than I would have ever thought! I’ve realized it’s not always about where you are, but who you’re with. MITF Tel Aviv+ has provided amazing tools for us to succeed this semester, but the people here have truly made our experience thus far so special – I really can say I’ve already made lifelong memories. To say the least, I’m hopeful for the future and I can’t wait for all of the new opportunities and experiences that will come my way!
// Ali Goldberg: MITF TLV + Bet Shean