Jewish Transcript article on Kiryat Malachi
Kiryat Malachi - the City of Angels - is a 45 minute drive southwest of Jerusalem, though may as well be in a different part of the world. There are no movie theaters, bowling alleys, internet cafes or night clubs. There are many synagogues for each of the ethnic and cultural groups who have immigrated to Kiryat Malachi. There are after school teen programs and a community swimming pool.
The editor of this paper, as well as other community members (including my daughter, Mindy, who spent 3 months living and volunteering in Kiryat Malachi) have written articles about their experiences in Kiryat Malachi. These articles have educated us on the difficult socio-economic issues that are relevant to the poor immigrant community. One of these issues is the lack of self worth. Many of the students asked “Why are you HERE?” as if why would anyone care about the youth of Kiryat Malachi.
For three weeks in May I had the opportunity to live in the volunteer apartment in Kiryat Malachi partially funded by the Jewish Federation of Seattle. During those three weeks I tutored English in 4th and 5th grades and helped high school seniors prepare for their oral English graduation exams. In addition, I spent one day a week doing arts and crafts, exercise classes and Israeli dancing in the Adult Senior Day Center. (Seattle has recently donated funds to improve the beauty salon in the senior center, an important service for the seniors.)
The volunteer apartment is open to anyone interested in being a volunteer and enjoying an amazing and intimate experience with Israel. The apartment is also supported by Tucson and Phoenix in addition to Seattle. There are four bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, a dining area, a full kitchen and washer and dryer, as well as internet hook-up. There were no other volunteers during my stay though I was looking forward to possibly meeting volunteers from the other two cities.
I do not speak Hebrew and since Kiryat Malachi is not a typical stopping point for tourists, as well as it being an immigrant city, many people there do not speak English. Despite this communication barrier, I was able to satisfy all of my needs. The most challenging and humorous experience was grocery shopping in the small grocery stores in Kiryat Malachi. Since I also don’t read Hebrew, I purchased products by picture only. Luckily, everything I bought was delicious!
One of the senior high school students shared her own personal poems written in English in hopes of having them published in an American newspaper. I will mail this article to her so she can be proud to see her poems in print. Two of her poems are at the end of this article.
I would be glad to speak with anyone interested in more information about volunteer opportunities in Kiryat Malachi. I look forward to being fortunate enough to return to the warm and appreciative citizens of this wonderful Jewish community on an annual basis to spend a few weeks volunteering while I visit Mindy in Israel. Kiryat Malachi is growing - a new shopping center is being built and a new adult work-out gym opened earlier this year. I anticipate an increased pride and hopefulness in the citizens that will accompany this growth. .
Several high school students from Kiryat Malachi will be spending the summer in Seattle working as counselors at the Jewish Community Center. When I met the students in May, they were very excited about their upcoming trip. I plan to spend some time with them during the summer.
Attached are the poems by high school student Sharon Levi.
As the moon took out the status
Of the sun so far away,
The intoxicating darkness
Took more in and in to stay,
And as if I have known such sorrow
As such joy I’ve felt before,
I merely sought to watch the morrow,
How at such beauty,
It morns and morns and morns.
Look beyond the simple colors
How the little pieces show,
Show the bits of core
That was and,
Never will be as before.
I have this friend
Who wants to sleep in my bed.
One night she came next to me
Told me “would you please hold me?”
So I asked – how?
“Just hold me…
Doesn’t matter how, just touch me…
Put your arms around me”
And I say –‘can you hear this sound?’
I have this friend
Who comes back again and again
Every night for the same…
And when I hold her
She says “Lay your head on my shoulder”
“Come little closer…
Doesn’t matter how
Lay your body over mine”
And I say – ‘can you hear that sound?’
I have this friend…
She can turn the whole world around
I lay my ear on her chest
And ask – ‘can you hear that sound?’