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2 posts from May 2017


Jaffa and Tel Aviv- Day Trip/ By Rebekah Noyes

Studying here in Haifa has been the highlight of my academic career thus far. While the academics are superb and the food is undeniably amazing, my favorite part of living in the Middle East has been meeting so many incredible, inspiring people. Our CIEE trip to Jaffa and Tel Aviv provided us with the opportunity to meet several people from all different walks of life, perspectives, and beliefs.

When we first arrived in Jaffa, we traveled to Tabeetha School. This Christian school hosts children of all ethnicities, all nationalities, and all religions. Tabeetha School accepts both international and local students, creating a complex, truly diverse student body. After meeting with the faculty, I sensed that for the teachers and administrators, this was not just a job. It was their passion. I sensed that they genuinely loved their jobs and the children they worked with. We then got to meet and interact with several of the students. One girl in particular, due to her father’s government job, had lived in around 5 countries and gone to just as many schools, all at the age of 13. She expressed how much she enjoyed meeting new people and experiencing new cultures, and I credit Tabeetha School, if only partially, with successfully allowing their students to build strong relationships with others of every ethnicity and religion.



After leaving the school, we traveled to the home of a prominent Arab Christian woman named Doris. She welcomed us with coffee and desserts, the traditional mode of hospitality in the Middle East (maybe my favorite part of Israel). Doris told our group about the history of her family and how they opened a family-run coffee shop decades ago that still serves delicious coffee today. She also discussed the Arab-Jewish dynamics within Jaffa in the past as well as in the present. Since Doris comes from one of the most well-known, affluent families in Jaffa, it was interesting to hear her unique perspective on social issues.


After we left Doris’s home, we traveled to the old fishing area of Jaffa. We explored local art galleries, walked the ancient streets of the old city of Jaffa, and discussed the European-inspired architecture. It was amazing to leisurely explore the historic, charming town of Jaffa, only a few miles south of the bustling metropolis of Tel Aviv.

After we left the old city of Jaffa, we took a taxi to south Tel Aviv, a neighborhood known for its delicious Ethiopian cuisine and ethnically diverse population. Since I had never tasted authentic Ethiopian food, I was really excited to try the food I had heard so much about. I soon discovered that half of the enjoyment of eating Ethiopian food is attempting to eat it in the traditional manner. Ethiopian food is meant to be eaten with the hands rather than with utensils, something my American brain had a hard time adjusting to but loved nonetheless. Injera, traditional Ethiopian bread and staple to the cuisine, has a strong yeasty taste, and while its taste definitely requires getting used to, I can honestly say that I would love to try Ethiopian food again.

IMG_1574     IMG_1583

For the last part of our day in Tel Aviv, we met Barik Sale, a young refugee from Tajuna, a small village in Darfur. Barik left his family when he was only a boy in search of safety and a better life. He eventually arrived in Israel when he was only 13 years old. After working in Tel Aviv and learning Hebrew and English, he earned his bagrut degree (high-school diploma) and is currently working on obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in the prestigious IDC Herzliya. I was stunned and humbled that someone who had experienced such hardship in his life at such a young age had the inner strength and determination to change his life and make his own success. Meeting Barik was truly an honor and definitely the highlight of our trip to Jaffa.




A word from the Resident Director:

With midterms behind us and finals approaching, there is no better time to sit back and take stock of what we’ve accomplished so far.

In addition to studying in courses and practicing Hebrew and Arabic on the streets and with language partners, the past few months introduced our students to new and exciting places and personalities. We travelled together to Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Kfar Kama, Capernaum, Tiberias and finally to Safed. Our students also had the opportunity to explore Israel independently and travel abroad, returning with many tales from near and far.

We celebrated a couple of birthdays on trips and on campus, tried more local delicacies, and got to know each other better!

In this issue we will recount our meeting with a local NGO with a very special story, called the House of Grace, enjoy the beauty of a poem in Arabic by Khalil Gibran, and last, but not least, we will learn how to make a local culinary delight - labaneh!

So let’s begin!  As they say in the Mishna “הַיּוֹם קָצֵר וְהַמְּלָאכָה מְרֻבָּה” – the day is short and the work is great!


Sincerely yours,
Martha Shtapura-Ifrah
Resident Director of CIEE, Haifa

House of Grace/ By Ashlyn Dorn

On Friday, March 24th, since the international school doesn’t have class, we woke up early (meaning 9 am) to visit the House of Grace, an NGO dedicated to helping released prisoners in Israel get back on their feet.


Our resident director, Martha, arranged for us to have a meeting with Jamal, the son of the founders of the House of Grace. Since we are studying Peace and Diplomacy, meeting with local organizations and NGO’s has been a really big part of our study abroad experience here in Haifa. Jamal’s parents started the first ever halfway house for released prisoners in Israel, which helps youth and low-income families and has facilities where the kids can come and play in order to keep them off the street.


He told us the story of how his parents unintentionally started the House of Grace -
Young newlyweds meeting a released prisoner and accepting him into their home, sharing their meals and their lives with him, even though they didn’t have much themselves. From then on, the rest is history. 

The House of Grace has existed for 31 years and in that time they’ve expanded from a tiny apartment to renovating an old church and the apartment above to make space for all the released prisoners to live. Although Jamal and his family are Christian, they respect and welcome all religions: Muslims, Christians, Jews - it doesn’t matter. It has such a nice atmosphere and you really get a sense that these people actually care. The University of Haifa even offers internships there, usually with one or two students a semester!

Jamal gave us the full tour of the facility, through the renovated church and courtyard, and then we went back to his office and he served us coffee and tea – we even got to meet the famous founder, his mother. He explained that sometimes it was difficult not to know where their funding would be coming from – the Israeli government suspended funding at one point and for a while things got really difficult for them.


Overall, it was an amazing experience to meet people who had dedicated their entire lives to helping others; it didn’t matter what religion or ethnicity the prisoners were, just that they wanted to get help and to get better – and I think that’s the most important part.

The music of language:

Gibran Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer of the New York Pen League. Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Laozi.


This excerpt taken from his famous poem, which was beautifully sung by Fairuz, "The nay(flute)". In this poem, Gibran invites the reader to appreciate the beauty of the nature around us in order to achieve contentment.


هل جلست العصر مثلي بين جفنات العنب
و العناقيد تدلت كثريات الذهب
هل فرشت العشب ليلاً و تلحفت الفضاء
زاهداً في ما سيأتي ناسيـًا ما قد مضى
أعطني الناي و غن فالغناء عدل القلوب
و أنين الناي يبقى بعد أن تفنى الذنوب


"Did you sleep on the grass at night
And let space be your blanket
Abstaining from all that will come
Forgetful of all that has passed
Give the flute then and sing
In singing is Justice for the heart
And even after every guilt
Has perished
The flute continues to lament"

Labaneh DIY

So easy and so delicious!



-          Goat yogurt – 1.5L

-          Salt – table spoon

-          Bowl, sifter, and a netted cloth



Mix the cold yogurt with salt.

Put the sifter on the bowl, then put the cloth upon the sifter.

Pour the yogurt in the cloth and leave it there for 24 hours in the freezer.

No need to cover it.

After that, the labaneh is put in containers and can be edible for 7-10 days.