As parts of Long Island are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, Nechama, a Jewish disaster relief organization, is still working on getting people’s houses back to living conditions. This past week, 20 YU students volunteered with Nechama. The student volunteers installed dry wall, painted, and put insulation in crawl spaces. Over the course of the week our YU students were spread out in a few different hard hit communities including Valley Stream, Long Beach, Freeport and Lindenhurst. While there remains much work to be done, the YU students were able to help multiple families get closer to recovery. There was also the opportunity to meet some of the homeowners who were extremely appreciative of the work of the student volunteers. This is not the first time YU’s Center for the Jewish Future has worked with Nechama. In years past, we helped after the tornados in various Southern states and in the immediate aftermath of Sandy.
Hey there, Eitan Miller and Elan Teichman from Kiryat Gat I reporting live from Kiryat Malachi.
Today was our last day of official lessons and on Sunday we will wrap up all unfinished projects. We will then say goodbye to the students and present them with envelopes stamped and addressed. Two of the students’ stamp designs were chosen and printed into real stamps that will be used to keep in touch with us! The designs are pictured below.
Courtney Thomas and Shaya Weinstein here, two seniors stationed in Kiryat Gat. This week has been exhausting and very busy, but extremely rewarding so far. We are part of one of four groups on the program, along with Kiryat Gat II, Kiryat Malachi, and Dimona. During our week here, we have been teaching 8th graders in various schools, through interactive and thought-provoking activities, and ending each lesson with a fun art project. The theme of our week is the connection between Jews in the Diaspora and Jews in Israel.
On Monday, we met the students and taught a lesson about different groups of Jews from all around the world. We discussed ways in which we are all connected as Jews while coming from different backgrounds. We then had a fun night activity where we met with people our age that live in Kiryat Malachi that volunteer to improve the conditions of the youth in the city.
On Tuesday, we talked about various reasons why people live and connect to Israel- the 6 P’s- Passion, Protection, People, Places, Purpose, and Practice. We taught the students that all Jews are connected to Jews in their heart, but there are many different reasons as to how people connect. At night, we visited an Ethiopian agricultural center, who gives jobs to Ethiopians who have trouble adapting to Israeli culture, while keeping their Ethiopian values.
On Wednesday, we taught the students that while all Jews are connected through our common history, through different customs and traditions, we all have our own story. We discussed different stories throughout history and how we learn from and connect to each of them. We did a fun art project where we created book covers for the students’ favorite books.
It’s been a great week for far and we cannot wait to see what the next few days have in store for us. Although our time is short here, we can already see the huge impact we are having on these kids, and the inspiration that they give us.
Til’ next time!
On Monday the Jewish Life Coast to Coast group volunteered at the Wexner Heritage Village, the local Jewish old age home in Columbus. When meeting with the residents we shared about our families and heard about theirs. We heard about Jewish life in Columbus through their eyes, it was a very meaningful experience. Below is a quote from the staff which brought a smile to all of our faces.
"The participants from Creekside who met the Yeshiva students RAVED about their visit!! They were impressed by the students and enjoyed sharing stories with them. And let me say, our folks are VERY honest about their feelings/opinions and never hesitate to share how they truly feel :). So when they told me they hoped the students would come back again, I took that as a GREAT sign that it was a successful event! (Don’t worry, I explained that they were "on tour" and would not be back). I overheard some of the conversations - topics included growing up Jewish, anti-semitism, what flavor ice cream to eat at Graeters, and good Jewish deli food :). Many of them could have kept talking…it was hard to get them out of there!"
After yesterday’s busy day of prep work, today’s classes in Dimona started off with a bang!
The group has landed!
They were greeted in the Kharkov Airport by all of their new Ukrainian friends with warm smiles and balloons for everyone.
Everyone is doing great and getting comfortable at the hotel before setting out for their first stop at the Wohl Center.
In early 2011 the Wohl Center opened in Kharkov designed to be the newly renovated Jewish Community Center (JCC). For many years the JCC building in Kharkov was based in a dilapidated site that was unable to cater to the 40,000 Jews living in the area. The center was spread across several floors connected by concrete stairs and was simply not suitable for the elderly or those with special needs. The Kharkov community desperately needed a place that could serve the needs of the entire community for all ages and in 2008 the process began. Three years later, the Wohl Centre opened and now acts as a focal point for the Kharkov Jewish community. The center encompasses 3,700 square meters over three floors and offers exceptional facilities for welfare support, Jewish education and community life, dance halls and space for communal festival celebrations, all designed to suit a range of activities specific for the community.
All of our #YUWinter2014 trips are officially off to a great start!
Jewish Life Coast to Coast, has finished it’s time in Cleveland and is now in Columbus learning about the Jewish community there. While in Cleveland the group met with community leadership, ran a program at Fuchs Mizrachi, learned some great money saving tips from Daniel Eleff, founder of Dansdeals.com and even squeezed in a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Counterpoint Winter Camp group spent Sunday preparing for their teaching sessions by meeting with professionals and reviewing their lesson plans. Monday will be there first day in the schools teaching.
The Service Mission to Ukraine group is currently enroute to Kharkov, where they will make an everlasting impact on the community through volunteer work and teaching.
All of the groups are learning valuable lessons while doing meaningful hands on service projects and through meetings with influential community members.
We look forward to sharing pictures from all of the different groups as the week goes on.