Sophie Reiss, a participant on the BINA GAP Shnat Sherut year, writes about the special Sunday activity.
Each Sunday night, we have Communa Night, which is a time for our madricha to come to our apartment and lead an activity for us or facilitate a group discussion about any issues we might have in the communa. This past Sunday, however, the weather was too nice and summery to stay inside, so our communa organized a nighttime beach volleyball game with the other BINA Tel Aviv Shnat Sherut communa. Our apartment is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach, so once we finished our dinner, we all excitedly walked over to find an open volleyball court.
The other communa met us as the court, and a chaotic game ensued. None of us quite knew how to play volleyball, so there was lots of laughing, falling, and general “fadichot” (a teasing Hebrew word that describes when someone does something embarrassing). After a few hours our communa headed back to the apartment — sandy, tired, and still laughing.
This night represents a bigger shift within the communa, our work, and across Israel– with warmer weather and a regressing fear of lockdowns, the atmosphere is much more celebratory. An experience I recently had at the youth center I volunteer at in the evenings exemplifies this feeling. One of my chanichim, who speaks very little English but who has been consistently interested in life in America came to me one day asking for help with an English project he had for school. He had to choose a city abroad to research and write about as if he were planning a trip there, and he had chosen Atlanta– my hometown that I’ve talked with him about from time to time. This made me very emotional — it felt as though each small conversation I’d had about my home, each time I’d helped with English, had paid off.
The Shnat Sherut is a very intense year. Being fully immersed in a foreign country, volunteering all day in a language I don’t speak, and going through all of the stress of the pandemic has made for a holistically challenging year. In addition to this, living in a multicultural, multilingual household has posed its own challenges. Within the communa, we’ve all worked extremely hard each day to contribute to the communa, create strong bonds with each other, and work through any troubles we’ve had as a group. The feeling of all this hard work paying off makes the sudden change in weather and atmosphere even sweeter, such as: weekends on the beach, working on fun projects with my chanichim, growing into a more independent role at Kuchinate, and being able to have more in depth discussions on controversies in Israel or America in the communa. Both individually and as a communa, we are all relishing the fact that we’ve earned each connection and each sweet moment of celebration.
GAP Shnat Sherut