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November 22, 1985 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-22

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Special to The Jewish News

It all began last year, when
46 active retirees from the U.S.
spent a winter in Natanya on a
very special volunteer program
showing that being retired does
not have to spell the end of one's
usefulness. The success of this
program initiated by the B'nai
B'rith and Aliyah Department of
the World Zionist Organization
2 prompted an enrollment of more
than double the number this
year with the added participa-
tion of the Hadassah organiza-
Stretching from December to
March, the program consists of
volunteer work in the morning
and ulpan (Hebrew class) in the
afternoon. This schedule is di-
versified by a number of trips
throughout the country, lectures
and movies in the evenings,
classes in Jewish culture, his-
tory and geography.
As part of the volunteer as-
pect of the program, several of

The program
includes trips,
lectures and

the participants are helping
both elementary and high school
students with their English les-
sons and a very special kind of
rapport seems to have grown be-
tween the youth and the volun-
teers. The students often visit
their new friends at the seafront
hotels where they are housed
and in turn invite them to their .
homes. Micky Kroos, a volun-
teer from Cleveland,_ Ohio,
working in the elementary
school says: "I love every minute
of it. The children are very re-
ceptive, and I'm getting them to
speak English more distinctly.
They're very anxious to learn,
and it's very gratifying to help
Another aspect of the course
is the Hebrew lessons given the
volunteers by the high school
students in exchange for their
lessons in English. Micky who
gives English lessons to high
school students, says she is as
grateful for their help in impro-
ving her Hebrew as they are for
her aid in English.
Aside from tutoring, the re-
tired volunteers are also doing
renovation — constructing a li-
brary out of a neglected bomb
shelter, complete with an
aleph-bet wall mural. "I wanted
to leaVe something behind me in
Israel," says Leonard, who was
busy working on the four-color
design of the mural. Another of
the volunteers, Shirley
Engleman, an artist, is design-
ing brilliantly vibrant stained
glass windows for the school.
Other volunteers are doing
work at the Malben Old Age
Home. Here, it is human contact
that makes a great deal of dif-
ference — talking to the resi-
dents, taking walks with them
and generally showing interest
in them. "It is very painful, but

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extremely rewarding work,"
says Kate Epstein. "I feel like
I'm doing a mitzvah each time I
go there." Herman Salz, who
works with the chronically ill
elderly, adds, "It's the basic
human contact, a touch, a pat
on the back, taking someone
outside in a wheelchair, that
matters. Then these people
know that there are still people
who care."
The personal touch is what
matters at the Morasha school
for the learning disabled stu-
dents as well. "It's very satisfy-
ing work," says Liah Frenick,
who speaks warmly of the re-
sponse and affection she evokes
in these children. Still other
volunteers work at the Laniado
Hospital and at the Netanya
Savy organization, which was
established by Australian
philanthropists. At Savy, the
volunteers put together occupa-
tional therapy kits and make
clothing for hospitals and the
deprived. "I never sewed before
in my life," Naomi claims pro-
udly. "But now I've made sev-
eral lap-warmers for the elderly.
And believe me, I'd like to take
one home for myself?" Several of
the active retirees are working
in a library for the blind. Hana
Kravitz is typing a book which
teaches speed reading in braille,
something she finds "absolutely
The influx of so many Ethio-
pian Jews to Netanya has
created an even greater need for
volunteer help, and the active
retirees have pitched in eagerly.
When the Ethiopians first ar-
rived clothing was sorted and
distributed by the program par-
ticipants. Many of the retirees
speak with deep emotion of the
great privilege they felt was
given them in being part of the
Ethiopian absorption into Israel.
The Israeli army is also bene-
fitting from the program as
some volunteers work in the
army base in Netanya. "What-
ever we are able to do is ap-
preciated," one of them says.
"The officers and soldiers have
all been very friendly, and our
being there and making an ef-
fort to help them makes them
happy." Others help by tutoring
army officers who are being sent
on delegations abroad, in
Many of the volunteers • work
in JNF forests, where they ex-
perience a real satisfaction in
clearing out the forests, and are
enthusiastic about the fascinat-
ing things they learn during
their work sessions. "It's very
gratifying to see the forest being
cleared," says Yetta from
Montreal. "It takes many hands,
but we are making a real im-
All the volunteers speak with
great satisfaction about the
work they are accomplishing
and many of them claim that
the program has given them a
deeper insight into the everyday
life of the country.


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