Israeli “Shlichim” (emissaries) are passionate about bringing Israel to the communities around the world. This summer Yokneam and Megiddo were privileged to host four passionate volunteers from Atlanta — Alex Grant, Marni Rein, Ashleigh Jacobson and Aly Pitt — who brought American culture to Israel with songs, games, sports, arts and a lot of love. They were part of Kefiada, an English language day camp that was organized this summer in Yokneam and Megiddo.
The four Kefiada girls, volunteered in two summer schools in Yokneam: Arazim Summer School and Tidhar Summer School. Each one of them brought her talents, educational skills and experience to teach English and upgrade summer academics in our communities. In Tidhar, Aly and Marni designed an Atlanta class that was decorated by the Yokneam students. During the decoration process they made sure the Israeli students learned words in English and enjoyed American music. They also taught songs in English and took the students to field trips with summer school staff.
In Arazim, Alex and Ashleigh concentrated on sports and dance. They opened each day with yoga sessions and taught English songs and dances. On Wednesday, the Fourth of July, they coordinated a special American-style Atlanta Day of sports for the entire summer school. Both Tidhar and Arazim are elementary schools, and although there was the language barrier with such young children, everyone overcame it with a lot of love, fun and occasional help from the Google translate application.
Afternoons and evenings were spent in the Teen Center in Yokneam, hanging out with teens and participating in cool activities like graffiti workshop, pool parties etc.
For the first orientation week, the Kefiada counselors lived in Yokneam Moshava and spent the weekend with young Israelis from Kibbutz Ein Hashofet in Megiddo regional council. That way they explored all the three types of communities in our Partnership region — Kibbutz, Moshava and the city Yokneam.
By the second week, Marni, Alex, Ashleigh and Aly enjoyed Israeli home hospitality, a key goal of our partnership, which made the experience in Israel more personal and authentic. They ate Shabbat meals, went for field trips and visits in Israel and just enjoyed family evenings together. The families were deeply attached to the Atlanta girls and on the last evening, in the farewell “cooking together” workshop, they were tears and emotional speeches about the unique experience for both sides.
Marni told us, “I have had the absolute best experience this past month. From exploring the Moshava, to spending time at the Tidhar school’s amazing staff and students, to joking around with my host families, and creating a small family of our own within the Kefiada community, this month has been unlike any other.” She also added “No matter where we go, Yokneam will always be our second home! Thank you to the Federation and all of the supporters of the Partnership — I feel so lucky to have been a part of this pilot program and can’t wait to see where it goes from here.”