Shabbat Shalom from Israel, an OTZMAnik's new home

 
By Billie Hirsch, OTZMA
 
Shabbat Shalom! And Shalom from Karmi’el, Israel, my new home for the next three months. My name is Billie Hirsch, and I am a 22-year old recent graduate of Emmanuel College in Boston, as well as a participant of OTZMA in its 26th and best (says yours truly) year for 2011-2012. For those not as well-versed in organizations sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America, OTZMA is a 10-month leadership development, volunteer-oriented program that offers Jewish adults the tremendous opportunity to live, work and explore Israel in a plethora of settings.  The program commences in late August and ends in late June, and since the twenty-third of August, twenty-eight of us have been getting acclimated to Israel in various ways.
 
Certainly, when a gregarious group of people who voluntarily give up their friends, homes, and jobs to volunteer for a year in their homeland, interesting stories of why we’re here and how we got here are bound to be bounced back and forth, and playing a bit of the ole’ Jewish geography proves that we are really are uncannily interconnected, across state lines and regardless of differences in coasts.
 
For the next just-under-a-year, I will be learning Hebrew in Ulpan and lending a hand at various organizations in Karmi’el, volunteering in my beautiful partnership city of Haifa, and interning at a women’s non-profit in Tel Aviv. For the next ten months, I will also be blogging once a week on my experiences. While I could talk for miles about the program, and I shall within these year-long posts; Yalla, let’s move on...to cover OTZMA’s highlights of our first week in the Holy Land!
 
 

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