April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Do you feel it? When you get to the airport with five duffels and you’re greeted by people just standing there singing you’ll start to feel it.

When you wake early in the morning and you head out to pick fruit or to make sandwiches or you go to a funeral for someone you don’t know, you’ll feel it. When you see a group of soldiers walk by and you say hi and they say thank you for coming. When you grill for them and dance with them. When you see a young pregnant woman kissing her husband goodbye, you’ll feel it. When you talk to a refugee staying at a hotel with nothing to do as they wait to go home and back to work and they say you are the first American they have met. When they thank you just for coming, you will feel it.

That’s why you have to go. Sure, they need people to pick the fruit and to make the sandwiches and even to console the aveilim but the fact is you will get so much more than you give.

Over the next few weeks I hope to highlight different volunteer opportunities that people feel have been fulfilling and to help you plan for your visit with many ideas and contact information.

VFI (Volunteers for Israel): This is the Israel army base program. Due to security reasons the application process has become more challenging but if you have several months to plan it’s still worthwhile. Previously, you were typically placed on a large base where you slept, worked and ate. Because the reservists need the barracks they are placing volunteers in large tents on army cots. Don’t worry, there aren’t latrines. This is war and volunteers need to be flexible just like regular army. The one-week program goes from Sunday-Thursday afternoon. There is an application fee of approximately $250 but no other costs.

Farming: It’s possible the picking season will be done by the time you are ready to go but there are two basic methods to volunteer on a farm. The first is to visit a farm that offers lodging and the second is to find a farm near you that needs day help. There are many farms that need day help. You can find them either on the many volunteer group pages or on the specific farm pages. Some information is outdated and often reposted without checking so you may want to check on your own. https://bit.ly/3SYXLiw

 

I’ve heard stories where people were ready to work and the farm didn’t need them. There are two volunteer groups and a farm-specific group. https://bit.ly/47xhNVW

If you want to find a farm where you can go for a few days, visit this group. The farm is eight kilometers from Gaza and offers lodging and kosher food. You should bring some snacks as breakfast is not served and lunch is served by the farmer you work for. Dinner is eaten together in the dining room. https://bit.ly/46Cb3EV

Meal Preparation: They say an army travels on its stomach. Because our soldiers are simply not that far away, there are people always ready to cook for the soldiers. Aroma in Beit Shemesh makes sandwiches every day in the morning. Just show up on time. Other restaurants do the same and in your travels you could just search the group pages or even search for individual restaurants and ask them. You can check with local groups to see if there is a food chain where you can cook some portion of a meal. You might prefer to be with the soldiers and to join grillingforidf.com. These folks have different groups grilling at different bases every day.

Evacuee Support: There are families from both the south and the north staying at hotels. You can go to hotels and offer to entertain the children by playing with them. I recently ended up teaching English to some boys centered on sports. Kadur, ball; regel, foot.

In future weeks I’ll highlight other opportunities. I’d like to hear from other travelers with some special experiences you have had by emailing me at [email protected].

Contact David via email at [email protected] or call (201) 725-9527.

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