Who am I & how did I end up on Tikkun Olam, volunteering at the Daniel Centers.
I am a 28 year old, Wisconsinite, who for the past five years lived and worked in Georgia and Alabama. Why did I quit my job, pack up my stuff, drive cross country, leave all my worldly goods (including my 4 year old dog, Bella) in Wisconsin and move to Tel Aviv for ten months? Let me tell you, it’s a great story!
After college I relocated to the south to join my fiancée. He had already started a career in Augusta, Georgia and I fell into work in Human Resources. I would spend the next few years coming to hate my job and myself (a little). The long and short of it was HR was not for me and neither was that relationship. After relocating with family friends to Dothan, Alabama in the summer of 2012, I decided it was time to find myself and figure out what I should be doing with my life; the million dollar question for most Twentysomethings these days. I spoke with my then current Rabbi in Alabama and my former Rabbi in Georgia; I knew they would both have good advice to offer. After attending the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism’s Consultation on Conscience in Washington, DC and being advised/pushed by those two nice Rabbis, I got the itch to change. I didn’t love my job, my living situation was meant to be transitional and I needed to do something meaningful with my life.
I did two things after I got home from Washington, DC in the spring of 2012. First, I applied to one Student Relations/Greek Life graduate program. It was the only one I liked and I wasn’t going to waste my time or money pretending to like others. And then I used my trusty laptop to search Masa programs. I was lucky enough to have been on Kesher Birthright trip in the summer of 2011 and enjoyed the little glimpses I saw of a real country hidden under all that history and pizazz. Masa offers 90 programs for post college English speakers. (I had very, very little knowledge of Hebrew.) There are programs that focus on ecology, dance, receiving a master’s degree in a variety of fields, and general volunteer work with locations throughout Israel. I knew I was looking for more than a superficial experience, something with just one focus. I dove deeper and looked for a program that would allow me to have a meaningful volunteer experience plus gain career experience, one that would provide education about the past, present and future Israel, and a program that just might help me get to the path I was meant for. I came across Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Tikkun Olam offered three tracks, Social Action, Coexistence and Internship. With all, participants live communally in Jaffa or South Tel Aviv, spend study days focused on the issues that we encounter in our volunteering and attend classes on Jewish identity and Israeli culture. There are also monthly day tours where participants have an opportunity to meet first hand with the many different groups living in Israel and occasional overnight trips to explore the different regions of Israel. In addition, participants attend a Hebrew Ulpan for the first three weeks and continued language classes throughout the program. This seemed to be the perfect plan!
As you can guess, I was accepted into Tikkun Olam and relocated to Tel Aviv in September. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.