Rahat is the first and largest Bedouin city in Israel. Founded in the late 1970s, it is populated by more than 45 Bedouin tribes from the Negev Region. Known as “the city of children” with roughly 60% of its population under the age of 18, Rahat and the surrounding Bedouin villages are going through a period of change and modernization as the new generation considers what it means to be Bedouin in the 21st century. While Rahat is a modern city boasting a Bedouin market, a bustling commercial center with restaurants and businesses, and many mosques, it still retains a uniquely Bedouin feel. Camel sightings in the city center, sheep herders and their flocks and the occasional Bedouin tent are a common sight.
Just 15 minutes from Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev, and 45 minutes by train from Tel Aviv, Rahat is located at the beginning of the Negev Desert with stunning nature and scenery surrounding it. Rahat is a culturally unique city with a warm and inviting community famous for their hospitality.
Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Rahat work at the forefront of Arab-Jewish coexistence within the Arab sector of the Israeli school system. Schools in Rahat are large, warm, and colorful, staffed with Bedouin and Jewish teachers. Fellows assist English teachers and work to bring enthusiasm for the English language and cross cultural exchange to the entire school community. Fellows use their own talents and hobbies to make the language more fun and accessible to students as part of an effort to bring about equality of educational opportunities in the Bedouin community.
Fellows who volunteer in Rahat will live just 15 minutes away in the vibrant and mixed city of Be’er Sheva. : There, fellows will connect with Israeli peers who are living and working in the surrounding area through BINA and A New Dawn’s different projects, while also being part of the vibrant cultural life among Be’er Sheva’s large student population. Fellows will take the public bus, just steps from their student style apartment, each morning to Rahat. Coexistence will not be a buzzword, but a part of everyday life for the Fellows, who will act as a “bridge” between the two cities and bring both populations closer together.
Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Rahat is organized by The BINA Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture and the Bedouin-Jewish non-profit A New Dawn in the Negev. BINA operates a broad range of programming for Jewish young adults from around the world based on social activism and pluralistic Jewish learning. A New Dawn in the Negev works toward bringing greater educational opportunities to Bedouin youth while connecting them with the greater Israeli society and the international community.