Israel’s historic, diverse communities offer a unique experience, and even better, a meaningful connection—with those in need, between neighboring cultures, and with your own Jewish heritage.
In Israel, you’ll discover your power to make a difference, and the difference it can make in you.
In a country known for its diversity, Ashdod still stands apart—a cultural mosaic of Jews from Morocco, Egypt, Romania, Georgia, the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, France and Argentina. As Israel’s largest port (and 5th largest city), it’s a shining beacon on the Mediterranean, welcoming immigrants among its other precious imports. Between the variety of communities, you’ll explore and impact and the young population, you’ll feel just as welcome.
Be’er Sheva has a story to tell. Founded in the 10th century BCE, it’s thought to be the site of the biblical town of Beersheba, and decades of archaeological digs have found history aplenty. Today, it’s the “capital” of the Negev Desert, and one of Israel’s fastest-growing cities. Culturally, it’s fascinating and lively, with the largest population of Jews from India, a colorful Bedouin influence, and a vibrant youth culture (Ben Gurion University is here) that will make you feel right at home.
When you’re in Beit She’an, you feel at home. Basically, it’s a small town: 20,000 people who’ve come together from far-reaching lands to create a warm, feels-like-family environment, where community-boosting efforts are welcome. Physically, it’s a marvel: a fertile gem along the Jordan River Valley, its springs boast naturally warm water just made for swimming, even in winter. The biggest of them, Gan Hashlosha (or the Sahne) is a national park named by Time magazine as one of the 20 most beautiful sites in the world.
Spend your year living in a real Israeli town, off the tourist track. Just 45 minutes from the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Gedera is a small, diverse city that reflects the rich fabric of Israeli society and gives participants a feel for what daily life looks like for many Israelis. Gedera is home to a large population of Ethiopian-Israeli immigrants and Yahel participants live, work and learn in a small Ethiopian neighborhood called Shapira.
Over 3,000 years old, the “City of Gold” is a historic treasure, a living embodiment of the past preserved in 16th century walls. Yet it lives in the present, where shuks (outdoor markets) rub shoulders with gleaming office towers. And it’s a model for Israel’s future: a seat of both holy and secular society, a beacon for both Jews and Arabs alike, a center of vibrant commerce and culture. Its tumultuous history only speaks to its resilience—and how it’s an amazing experiment in community development, human rights, and social change.
Kfar Vradim, which means “Village of the Roses,” was established in 1984 as a small village in the foothills of the Western Galil. Today, Kfar Vradim is a thriving community of approximately 6,000 residents who live in a region known for its tranquil, mountainous surroundings. Situated at a height of 600 meters above sea level, Kfar Vradim is located in the north of the Tefen region. The Village boasts a growing community and provides an environment for social involvement. It also offers a multitude of cultural and recreational activities.
Kiriyat Shmona, or “City of the Eight,” is a living memorial, named for the people who gave their lives defending the historic “Hill of Life” in 1920. It’s an enduring heroic story, and a symbol of the city’s own endurance; an escape into history and a look into the future, thanks to a very young population (nearly a third are under 19) working toward growth. And nestled in the scenic “Finger of the Galilee” in the Hula Valley, it’s a chance to see Israel off the beaten path.
Netanya was founded with good works in mind. Named for an American philanthropist, the small coastal city is a melting pot of far-flung Jewish communities—from North Africa, Ethiopia, the former Soviet Union and Iran. Sitting on the coast between the northern and southern parts of the country, it’s a vital social and economic link between communities and cultures—not to mention nine miles of some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
With a name that means “Opening of Hope,” Petach Tikvah is a symbol of opportunity. Israel’s first modern Jewish agricultural settlement, or moshav, today the city is a beacon for some of the world’s largest technology and biomedical companies. It’s open in other ways, too, with a cultural melding of religious and secular Jews from around the world, a laid-back local community, and many opportunities to share knowledge. And since it’s just six miles east of Tel Aviv, you’re also welcome to nightlife when you want it.
Ramle-Lod is both one of the most diverse, welcoming communities in central Israel, and one of its most at-risk. Walking the streets, you’ll discover an array of amazing foods, the vibrant life of the shuk (outdoor market) and a world of different languages. You’ll find warm, mixed communities of Jews and Arabs, but also a number of families in need. Here, you’ll have the chance to make a serious impact in the lives of underprivileged children and others, and have an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
A thriving city in its own right, with a pastiche of vibrant nightlife, diverse restaurants and a lively shuk (outdoor market), Rehovot thrives especially on knowledge. It’s a draw for students, with universities like the Weizmann Institute of Science, one of the world’s leading research centers. But more than that, it also boasts an authentic Israeli experience and a diversity—a mix of Ethiopian, Yemenite and Russian immigrants—and that are learning opportunities in themselves.
If there’s an archetype for Israeli society, Rishon LeZion is it. It’s a mélange of cultures and socioeconomic levels, of secular and religious Jews, of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants alongside native Israelis. It’s bustling with art and culture, nature and nightlife. It’s central (just seven miles from Tel Aviv), but borders some of the country’s most spectacular beaches. It’s the fourth largest city, but “the First to Zion.” And it’s your chance to empower a community that empowers you right back.
Tel Aviv, on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa, is Israel’s 2nd biggest city—offering riches galore. With hip art, cuisine and nightlife scenes, plus Jaffa’s rich history and a beachside vibe, it feels a bit like a stay in paradise. Much of that is thanks to its multicultural makeup, but the same multiculturalism poses challenges, too, and offers you a chance to make a real difference, whether in struggling neighborhoods in the south, or promoting peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs. A stay in Tel Aviv can be truly life-changing.