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Rinat Chesed List Provides Opportunities to Help in Israel

Ruthie Levi, creator of the list.

Cong. Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck has assembled a spreadsheet with over 100 chesed opportunities for those traveling to Israel who want to help out the country during their visit in this time of war. Each item in the sheet has a link, phone number and/or comment to inform people how to get involved. With options like meal delivery, farming, babysitting, barbecuing and many more, there is something for everyone. The Jewish Link spoke to Ruthie Levi, creator of the project, on how it started and how people can help.

Levi explained her project started in November. “I, like many people, was stressed about the situation. And I was up many late nights or early mornings, and you want to do something to help. And so I saw that people were going to Israel for these mini-missions and things like that. And that there were these volunteer projects that were springing up. So I thought maybe I could do something like that and tell people what they should be doing and perhaps give them options, all different types of opportunities.”

Regarding Rinat’s involvement, Levi noted that soon after Oct. 7 she joined an initiative at Rinat to provide support to Israel. “I am part of the Rinat Israel Initiative,” she explained. “It’s a committee that was set up on Oct. 19 to see what Rinat as a shul could do to help the situation. So through them, we organized various volunteer opportunities as well as charitable things to raise money. And then we sought out opportunities to donate money from Rinat to these opportunities. Everybody wants to try to do something.”

Levi shared a story that illustrated the impact this work has: “After this list started to circulate, and it has circulated as far as Australia and Singapore to my knowledge, I started to receive emails from folks. I received an email from a young man who was serving in Gaza. It seemed he had started a small business a while back, Microgreens, and now with his absence/lack of on-site direction, the business was in danger of failing. He asked if I could include his business on the Rinat list to try and get some volunteers to keep the company afloat, and we did! The power of the internet can be so amazing sometimes!”

What did it take to build such a list? “That was the middle of the night, Googling by myself, bleary-eyed,” Levi said. “There were already some Facebook groups that were in formation and I belonged to various Facebook groups like Secret Jerusalem and Volunteering in Israel. Those things existed. And then I just scoured all those to see what was being offered out there and then tried to check on their viability.

“To be on the list there has to be a succinct description. Also, there has to be a direct contact. It wasn’t just like, ‘Go make sandwiches in Tel Aviv.’ There has to be a phone number, a person or a website where you can sign up. It has to be something definitive that the person who’s viewing this list could click on and do. Or a WhatsApp chat; there were a lot of WhatsApp chats also. Those sprung up very organically at the beginning as well. You know, ‘I’m coming to Israel. What could I do for three days?’ The other criterion for my list was it had to be a one-off, not staying overnight for four days. These were, ‘I’m going to be in Jerusalem on Wednesday. What could I do?’

To update or add to the list, email [email protected]. She and fellow Teaneck Shuls announcement group moderator Bryan Alter are editors of the spreadsheet. “The list is shut down for edits because imagine, there’s now 30,000 views on it,” Levi explained.

Find the spreadsheet at rinat.org/volunteer-israel. Levi emphasized use of the link over pictures of the list, which are not interactive and not necessarily up-to-date. And despite her tireless efforts, Levi remarked: “It’s not Ruthie Levi’s list, it’s an initiative through Rinat. I’m just the one doing it, but it’s Rinat who put it out there, their name is on it, and they’re the ones who have put it forth and advertised it and such because we felt as a shul that we were going to try to do something to help.”


Daniel Brauner is a summer intern at The Jewish Link. He is an incoming student at Yeshiva University and lives in Teaneck.

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