Bat Yam: I Love It!

 
By Ariel Bigio, Young Judaea Year Course madricha
 
For my first blog post, I wanted to introduce myself and share why I chose to work with Year Course. My name is Ariel Bigio and I am originally from Rockville, Maryland. I attended the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School and my first trip to Israel was with my senior class on the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program. This trip had a momentous impact on my life and truly ignited my passion and interest for Israel.
 
While several of my classmates signed up for Year Course, I chose to go straight to the University of Maryland for my freshman year. To this day, I have distinct memories of sitting in my dorm room reading the emails from my friends on Year Course about their many adventures, experiences, and new memories to last a lifetime.
 
One of my best friends in my freshman dorm had just completed Year Course and we bonded over our experiences in Israel. Despite not having participated myself, I was still greatly affected by the experiences that others had on Year Course. 
 
Because of their inspiring stories, I decided to go on a 10 month volunteer program called Otzma after I graduated last year.  As I hoped, it was amazing and exceeded all my expectations. I was not ready to leave Israel and when the opportunity presented itself to staff Year Course, I jumped at the opportunity.  A few months later, here I am! I truly admire the chanichim for coming to Israel and I feel privileged to be a part of their year.
 
Bat Yam is great.  Only a 15 minute cab ride from Tel Aviv, I had never been here until recently. I feel very fortunate for the opportunity to live in Bat Yam now and discover all that this city has to offer.
 
1)  Accessibility:  The public transportation system is really easy to use and takes me all over Bat Yam as well as into Tel Aviv and surrounding communities.
 
2)  People:  Despite living here for only two weeks, I have been really taken aback by the openness and hospitality of our neighbors.  Some of the girls told me a story of how their neighbors brought them food for Rosh HaShana. Also, it was suggested to the chanichim that they make Rosh Hashana cards for their neighbors and after visiting some apartments, I saw how some of the residents had displayed the cards on walls around the building or on the doors themselves. The presence of our groups is really felt in the community and you can already see the positive impact that they are having on those around them!
 
We look forward to an amazing time here!
 
 

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