Volunteering is Like That First Cup of Coffee In The Morning

Today we had a short Ulpan lesson due to some special people from Baltimore visiting our Mircaz Klita in Ashqelon.

We had around 100 Jewish adults coming in from the Jewish Federation of Baltimore. They do not necessarily all live in Baltimore but they are from around that area. The best way to describe them would be as your typical Jewish moms and dads, and this in turn made me feel comforted because I felt like a little piece of home came to me.

The reason they all came to us is because Ashqelon is partnered with Baltimore through the Jewish Federations Partnership 2000. I may have explained this in a past entry but just to refresh your memory, the Partnership 2000 means that certain cities in the United States are partnered with Israeli cities. So all of the money dated from those areas in the US go directly to those areas in Israel. For part two we are supposed to go do volunteer work in the city we are partnered with. Being from southern New England this would mean I would head to Afula. But since I have to live in a city with at least two people from my OTZMA group I instead have been sent to Rehovot, which is in partnership with New York City, which is nothing short of perfect in my mind.

During the second part of Ulpan we paired up with these adults and taught them how to say, “Hello, my name is ____ and I am from ___.” We then had a little competition amongst the groups where we tried to label the major cities and seas in Israel, and countries surrounding Israel. My group came in second but we still obviously won the prize of gelt. MmM, another piece of home.

After this we all went out to lunch together. We each got paired to a married couple and I felt like mine was supposed to be placed with me. They were very nice and we had a lot in common. The woman went to Ithaca College (was my second choice in schools), majored in film editing (an interest of mine), and studied abroad in London during the first semester of her junior year (same timing as me). Was she my future of my alternate life?

The husband is the owner of a franchise beauty supply store and was excited to find that I have an interest in beauty products. In fact I never really realized how interested I am until he was asking me questions today and I had a lot of good answers for him.

A lot of the way he spoke reminded me of my own dad which was awesome because, again, more of a comfort of home. I could tell they enjoyed having a meal and getting to know me as well, which is always a great feeling. They paid me a nice compliment saying I am an ‘old-fashioned’ kind of girl. They loved that I enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra, am still an avid magazine reader, and like to receive and send letters via snail mail.

After lunch Vanessa, Ariel, and I headed straight to our volunteering at the Family Club. Today was again, nothing short of rewarding and endorphin rising. When we arrived some of the people from Baltimore were there, visiting the family club. They were seeing and having a chance to interact with where some of their donations are going too. When we were outside during hafsikah I was talking to two of the women who were saying how amazing the place was and how they would love to donate material goods.

I was really excited about this because last week the kids sat in a circle and told me everything they would love to have donated. So I was able to get the women’s e-mails and I am going to let them know what can be sent. Later on I told the head of the family club about this and you would have thought she won a million dollars. She was so excited and gave me a huge hug. What an amazing moment we shared in together! I also told her how everyone was saying she was such an amazing teacher and caretaker of these children, something she deserves to hear over and over again.

Today we taught the children some English. Vanessa taught them the sentence, “I eat chocolate ice cream.” Ariel taught them, “I want to go home now.” I taught them, “I have a book.” Next week we are going to test their memory, and I have a pretty good hunch they will remember these sentences. We also learned some Hebrew from them today, which is a always great thing.

After I got home from volunteering I went for a nice relaxing run, and now I am writing this entry and eating some dinner. It is already 9:30 at night and I am exhausted! Laila Tov everyone.

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