November 14, 2016

A Week With Yoni

By Yoni Vaknin

Hi! I’m Yoni and I’m from D.C. I graduated high school last year and decided I wanted to do Tivnu because it’s a Jewish program that offers a chance to work with Habitat for Humanity. I wrote this post to give all of you readers an idea of what a typical week for me is like in Portland.

Jewish social justice gap year Naomi Adiv

On Monday we had our normal internships and in the afternoon Naomi Adiv came to talk to us about Urban Wealth & Poverty. She’s a professor at Portland State University. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all learned more than we expected. This was the first of three sessions with Professor Adiv and I’m looking forward to next week! To prepare, we’re playing an online game ( that simulates a life with a paycheck and everything. We have to see if we can get through a month on that paycheck alone. The game throws different life events at you without warning. It should be pretty interesting!

Jewish social justice gap year program Zenger Farm Habitat For Humanity construction work

On Tuesday the construction crew (which on Tuesdays consists of myself, Sophie, and David) went to Habitat. We were led by Katie (Eric’s sub while he is at his own job site). We worked on cleaning up and some framing. Even if it’s been really hard work, it’s rewarding. Helping people in need is an important part of Judaism which gives me even more motivation to do the work.

On Wednesday our fearless construction coach, Eric “the pipe killer”, and Noah joined the crew to work on the tiny homes at the ReBuilding Center. It was fun to build a house for someone to literally live in! We started off building benches, and now we’ve made a house! Meeting the future resident was inspiring too. It tied the whole experience together.

Jewish social justice gap year program Habitat For Humanity construction work

On Thursday Jamie joined the crew at the ReBuilding Center to work on the tiny house. It’s been awesome to work on some construction projects with everyone on the Tivnu program. Living and working together has increased the compatibility of the Tivnu participants.

Jewish social justice gap year program Zenger Farm Habitat For Humanity construction work

On Friday we finished out the work week at the ReBuilding Center working on the tiny house. Then we came home for Shabbat dinner, however I went to Chabad in Southwest Portland. It’s really nice to have another community in Portland so I can meet new people and experience Judaism in a new way. I am thankful that so many people have opened their homes to me as a guest.

Jewish social justice gap year program

On Saturday we had a very chill day with little to report. (I was happy to have a break from the busy work week.) Most weekends I catch up on sleep, hang out with Threevnoodles, and go out to meet new people in Portland. I’ve also been going to eat out with friends. I highly recommend the BBQ chicken sandwiches at Taste Ticklers.

Jewish social justice gap year program

On Sunday we celebrated SOPHIE’S 21st BIRTHDAY!!! We went out to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant downtown called Luc Lac. Then we came back home and ate cake and watched a movie before prepping for another busy work week ahead of us.

My time with Tivnu is going by super quickly so far. I really love spending time in quirky Portland. The work I do on a daily basis is difficult and challenges me to push myself. I’m thankful for the experience try new things, become more independent, and meet new people.

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