As a participant in the Nativ program, I spent the first five months of my program living in the centre of Jerusalem while studying at the Conservative Yeshiva. Besides enjoying my studies at the Yeshiva, I have also had the chance to become a part of Jerusalem by exploring its streets, shops, restaurants, historic and cultural sites, and more importantly, by giving of my time to make a small contribution to the city and its residents.
My volunteering has included donating blood with Magen David Adom, sharing Hanukah with the elderly at Yad LaKashish and the residents of Gilo Home for the Handicapped, and most importantly, spending every Friday morning helping out at the Hazon Yeshaya soup kitchen.
Hazon Yeshaya is one of the largest poverty relief organizations in Israel serving 200,000 meals per month at over 60 locations, and was founded by businessman Abraham Israel, who wanted to ensure that nobody would have to starve on the streets and beg for food like he did as a child. While it is very sad to see the same people coming to Hazon Yeshaya week in and week out, it is empowering to be able to make a difference whether it chopping cucumbers, peeling beets, or serving a hearty hot lunch to those who need it.
Besides for being able to help out, it is a pleasure to work in the warm and friendly environment created by head chef Tamir, who treats everyone, volunteer and client alike with a sense of respect and appreciation.
I hope that just as I gained so much from my time living in Jerusalem, I was able to give back a little to this city and country which are so beautiful and mean so much to me on so many different levels.