Volunteering – Of Hope And Love

In the last post I told you I was working as a volunteer. My first day as a volunteer was Sunday, April 14.

April 14 turned out to be a day of a number of firsts for me.

It was the first time I used my RavKav card to ride a bus. It was the first time I had to deal with Google Maps under wartime conditions. It is not only Google Maps, but also any application that relies on a satellite to help you navigate. Israel is at war with terrorist organizations that launch rockets at Israel from time to time. What Israel has done is scramble the whole GPS system to make it harder for enemy missiles or aircraft to find us.

In consequence, when I would try to use Google Maps, when I opened the app, I would find myself exploring Beitrut. However, through trial and error I discovered a trick to getting a good route from Google Maps. It isn’t fast, but if you have patience, the app will eventually give you a decent route to your destination. That includes which bus numbers to look for.

Ruins At Caesarea

That is how I found my destination in Or Akiva. Or Akiva is a town adjacent to Caesaria, a town of ancient origins, where you can see Roman ruins on the beach.

So where am I working?

I do volunteer work for Meir Panim, a non-profit organization that aids low-income / no-income families. The number of clientele picked up dramatically when the war started. Now Meir Panim cannot be all things to all people. But it sure has taken on a huge share of the burden of feeding, clothing, and sheltering people who have lost so much due to the attacks.

Now let me tell you something about the people I met at Meir Panim in Or Akiva. The first time I arrived, there was a group of about 20 young men and women laughing, singing, dancing, and simultaneously getting a lot of work done. That day, they were putting donated clothing in bags which would be sent elsewhere – maybe to a massive washing machine.

A Special Group Of Volunteers

I helped them bag things. I helped them unload a truck, clean up the truck, and reload it with the same stuff we had liberated. In the early afternoon, I sat on the ground with them as the manager of that branch of Meir Panim explained to them where they were going next. The branch manager was like a camp counselor, advising the group of youth before her about the seriousness of their next job.

A small sample of Donated Food
A small sample of Donated Food

Well, their next job, which I was not a part of, was to go to the homes of some clients – very needy families in Or Akiva – and ostensibly work on the houses, to make repairs and/or repaint a wall. That is what they would do when they were in the homes. In actuality their real mission was more subtle. They would bring a hint of hope to these clients. They would would show them respect and they would bring love to the households.

So let me tell you more about this group of young men and women, and how they were uniquely qualified to bring love to needy families living in tiny dwellings having to house many children and their mothers. The young men and women in this group came from all over the country, and they had one thing in common. They were all post-miluim (post reserve duty) combat soldiers who had recently completed a tour of duty either in Gaza or in the northern part of Israel at the Lebanon border.

Combat Soldiers Volunteering At Meir Panim
Combat Soldiers At Meir Panim

Think About It
It is a time of war in Israel and, small country that Israel is, everyone wants to do his part. We often think that war is fought only by soldiers in the battlefield. But much of the real fight takes place off the battlefield. In Israel, when they say “We must all work together,” they actually mean all.

In Israel, Israelis look after the elderly and the ill and the children – those people who often need a hand at staying alive. When they see a combat soldier come into their homes – leaving the battlefield behind to give some people a hand up – they see a possible change in their own lives. They see hope, and they feel the love.

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Whew!  An attack is coming.  It looks like an invitation to all out war on all of Israel’s fronts; Iran and Iraq  to the East, Yemen to the South,  Syria and Hezbullah to the North, and there is still Gaza to the West,   A drone and missile attack. Looks like I’ll be up all night. What a Way To Start an Adventure.

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