By Becca Feldman, Huntingdon Valley, PA, Young Judaea Year Course
The question is always asked: what is there to do in Arad? Truthfully, Arad is a small town with a limited amount of activities but a lot of spirit and opportunity. A few weeks ago my friends and I decided we wanted to go on a hike to the Dead Sea. We met with Eli, the coordinator of Arad for Year Course, and received a map. Then on Friday morning, my friends and I with nothing but a map, water bottles, and snacks, left at 4 am from Arad and hiked 8 hours to the Dead Sea.
When we were standing at the top of the mountain, eating lunch, and looking out to the Dead Sea, the feeling of accomplishment we all felt was irreplaceable. At that point, we we truly understood the amazing opportunities we had right in front of us, and that we, six girls could do anything, even hike to the Dead Sea.
I love Arad; it is by far my favorite place to live so far. Coming from a big city, I really appreciate the togetherness the people of the town feel. I believe the community is a huge factor to keeping the Year Coursers happy because in Arad, the section is split up. In Section 2, about a third of the section is on Marva (the army experience) and fourteen kids are living on Kibbutz Ketura, founded by Year Course alumni. That leaves less than thirty people in Arad. And of that thirty, the group for Rwanda left yesterday.
Because the section is no longer together, the feeling of community in Arad means a lot and helps ease the pain of missing your friends. The sense of togetherness in Arad is incredible; everyone is extremely friendly, constantly extending invitations for Shabbat dinners or just another place to call home. The first week of the trimester, Young Judaea set all the chanichim up with host families so we could always have a place to go, but I guarantee, even without the set up, it would not be hard to find a family to call your own.
The sense of community in Arad means a lot to me personally; two of my roommates are on Marva, but more importantly, because three of my best friends/roommates left for Rwanda yesterday, leaving only me and one of best friends/roommates living in an apartment made for seven. Although I miss them terribly already, I am easily occupying myself. I volunteer at the horse ranch of Arad, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I clean the horse stables, groom horses, and feed them daily.
Every Monday, the other volunteers and I get to ride with the head of the horse school. The couple that owns the ranch, Ami and Rachael, are such an inspiration, full of energy and spunk at 73 years old. They have lived in Israel their entire lives, experiencing firsthand the declaration of Israel and the Independence War. They inspire me to live my life to the fullest. As Ami said the first morning of my volunteering, “don’t work too hard, and laugh a lot, because life, it’s a funny thing.”