Studying for a BA in religious studies and environmental science at the Hebrew University, Bar Rapaport has one year left in her degree. Having left JACC this summer after three years at the organization, Bar is still invested in the program she ran and wants it to continue to expand. She said she wants the Hebrew program, which until recently she coordinated, to have more professional classes and a curriculum and workbooks that are more relevant to the community the classes are for. She wants the material covered in each course to expand as well.
“It won’t be just Hebrew—it will be biology and geography and a bit of everything,” she said.
Even so, during the time Bar has been at JACC, the Hebrew program has expanded considerably. Recently, the center began offering a class for mothers. Before then, mothers with small children often could not come to classes because they had to take care of their children at home. Now, there are specific classes that offer daycare for children while their mothers are in class in the next room.
“In the beginning it was a mess,” Bar said. “But by the end it worked.”
Beyond offering services, Bar wants to see JACC remain a central place for the asylum-seeking community. She stressed that volunteers at JACC work with the community to provide services for the center’s members. Both volunteers and community members alike are a part of JACC out of love and the environment created is supportive and makes members feel that they belong.
“It’s a place where they get respect,” Bar said. For this reason, she said she feels it is important that JACC continue to host community evenings, game nights and attend shows with members.
The members of Israel’s asylum-seeking community come from different nations in Africa. In its effort to form one community, JACC endeavors to bring together the people from these different countries.
“In other places you don’t see Sudanese and Eritreans sitting together in the same class,” Bar said. “Here, you can find it.”