Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sarah Brammer-Shlay on Kiryat Bialik

Back home most of my previous jobs have been working with youth. Usually, when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” youth work is not typically mentioned. However, I have begun to see that this is what I enjoy most.
This past Sunday was Purim and myself, ENP staff member Michelle Shelemay, and two other volunteers headed out bright and early to Kiryat Bialik. We took part in a youth encounter that was comprised of American teens from Boca, Florida who had spent the week with a group of Israeli teens from Kiryat Bialik. These teens are part of an initiative called Partnership 2000 which twins cities in the U.S. and cities in Israel. The Israeli teenagers involved had previously visited the teenagers in Florida and now it was the American teenagers turn to come to Israel.
Both the American teens and Israeli teens arrived at the ENP Youth Outreach Center early Sunday morning to learn more about The Ethiopian National Project and to make Mishloach Manot baskets for Purim for Ethiopian-Israeli families who have recently moved to Kiryat Bialik. Mishloach Manot are baskets or bags that people make on Purim filled with goodies and it is a mitzvah to distribute them to friends and neighbors.
The morning kicked off with a few of the girls who are active at the center, talking about all the workshops and events that take place at the center. As the young women spoke, more and more Ethiopian-Israelis who use the center trickled in and were extremely animated. Similar to my experiences at the other ENP Youth Outreach Centers I have visited in the past, it was quite obvious how important the center was to these young people. They felt at home and all had big smiles on their faces, totally expressing that they were currently in their element.
After getting to know a little more about ENP we all broke up into groups, first playing a "getting-to-know-each-other" card game and then dividing into groups to get to work on our Mishloach Manot. After we packaged up a range of treats, wrapped the baskets and decorated them with "Happy Purim from ENP" messages, we left the center and headed out with a list of addresses in hand to deliver the baskets. I think this was my favorite part of the event because I was able to see all of the Israeli teens as well as the youth from Florida connecting and getting to know each other better.
It was also fun to get to know the town of Kiryat Bialik through the Israeli youth who live there. When we said goodbye at the end of the event, the room was filled with hugs and “find me on Facebook!”
It truly is beautiful how quickly human beings are able to connect with people no matter the amount of time spent together.
The Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach Country generously supports ENP’s activities in the city of Kiryat Bialik.