Did you know there is an easy and fun way to do some good while you travel?
Jerusalem is not only home to some of Judaism’s most historic sites but it is also an epicenter for goodness and chesed.
Take the opportunity while you are here to plan a fun activity for your family where your kids give back to people in need. I assure you that your family will gain even more than they give.
These are a few of our favorite volunteer activities in and near Jerusalem:
Create your own personal branded rice to be distributed to the poor. Recently opened in the Talpiot area of Jerusalem, this wonderful chesed is run by Colel Chabad. Groups are invited into the warehouse to individually pack bags of rice for poor families in Israel. Each person is given a task from labeling the bags, to pouring the rice into them and then sealing the bags before packaging them in large boxes. Participants are given aprons, hairnets and instructions to use the industrial size factory equipment. Families or larger groups are invited to come and take part in this mitzvah and then they are given a chance to add personal labels to the bags of rice for example “Packed by the Shebson Family”.
This great activity was the brainchild of Rabbi Traxler, who coined the phrase “Volunteer Tourism” and he personally guides your group through the process. Don’t forget to ask to see the movie at the beginning and you will see where the food goes and how many people it helps. This activity is great for all ages and takes 2 hours. It’s a great way to start the day before heading off for a Jerusalem adventure. To book your activity email firstname.lastname@example.org
This wonderful snack house for soldiers and police stationed near Tzomet HaGush was built to supply the men and women on duty in the Gush Etzion area with a warm drink and a sweet snack. The Pina Chama “warm corner” was set up in 2001 in memory of two locals terror victims - Dr Shmuel Gillis of Karmei Tsur and Tzachi Sasson of Rosh Tsurim. It has become a very special place where locals are able to show their appreciation towards soldiers and police who protect them on the roads. The Pina Chama is manned by volunteers (including my Mother in Law, Shirley) from the Gush Etzion area. Although they do not have an official tourist activity, you can contact them in advance and offer to serve the soldiers for a few hours. As an added touch you can offer to bring in some special food like popcorn, cakes, cookies or your favorite treat from back home.
When you have finished volunteering at the Pina Chama there are many great tourist activities in the Gush Etzion area including Deerland and the new Gush Scavenger Hunt. For more information and to reserve at Pina Chama call 02-993-9917. (photo provided form Pina Chama)
Yvel Jewelry Factory:
You may be asking how come Yvel a world renowned jewelry company, based just outside Jerusalem, is on my list of charitable activities? Orna and Isaac Levy the founders of Yvel, were looking for a way to give back to society. They chose to open a jewelry school for unskilled Ethiopian immigrants to teach them the art of Jewelry making and empower them to create new and successful lives in Israel. The school, Megemaria takes 21 participants a year and together with the non profit organization Yedid, they help the students with their absorption. When you visit Yvel’s visitor’s center you will see a 3D movie about pearls and jewelry making as well as a movie about the Megemaria School. You are then able to go behind the scenes and watch the students as they learn from master craftsmen. The cost of the tour at the visitors center (25 NIS) and the profit from the sale of Megemaria jewelry goes back in to the school to support the program. When you visit the company store with your guide make sure to ask them to tell you the inspirational stories about the pieces of jewelry, especially about the pieces inspired by the solidarity march for Gilad Shalit.
The Yvel visitors center tour is available for ages 12+ by advanced reservation email@example.com
Stay tuned for next month’s Day in Jerusalem…”Celebrating Hanukkah & Thanksgiving- Fun In Jerusalem Style”