Friday, May 27, 2005

The Volunteering Experience in Israel

I will continue my AIPAC coverage shortly (I'm still feeling a bit jet-lagged) but in the meantime, I thought you all would enjoy reading about my friend Paul's most recent experience in Israel with Sar-el. We volunteered in Israel together two years ago, and he just got back from doing it again.

I just very recently returned from my sixth three-week stint with Sar-El. The experience was filled with emotion, adventure and excitement, equaling my previous visits to Israel. I keep wondering, when will this phenomenon of exhilaration wear off?

This time, I was posted to a small army base, just north of Haifa. There were a dozen volunteers in our group, all from USA and Canada. Nonetheless, we were a very diverse group. Our work assignments involved mostly vehicle maintenance and warehouse-related tasks.

Rather than sharing with you my own feelings, I think it would be more meaningful to share with you some of the journal entries of other volunteers from my group:

Karl from Long Island: "Why am I coming back again and again to the Land of Israel? Is it for the majestic scenery of Switzerland? Is it for the wide spaces of 'the Land of the Free'? Is it for the museums of France? Or the Fjords of Scandinavia? No! I'm coming to Israel to see the immense sands and rocks being transformed by a nation reborn! What a psychic high ---better than famous museums and landscapes. Thank you Sar-El and our madrichot for the opportunity of living and working with the Israelis, in spite of of the terrible continuous hardships they face!"

Ken from Toronto: "Israel did much more for me than I did for Israel during this wonderful experience with Sar-El."

Esther from Ontario: "In Israel I feel everyone around me is Family."

Helen from Arizona: "This has been one of the most exciting adventures of my entire lifetime. I do travel a lot, but this one beats them all."

Larry from Florida: "This is truly a lifetime experience. I've had a chance to visit Israel, my second country, and meet many wonderful people from all over the world."

I hope you find these comments interesting and inspirational. Shalom, Paul


At 2:50 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Welcome back, Esther! It sounds like you had a very rewarding experience! It`s great that you have been able to do this; this is something you`ll always remember.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Warren said...

Esther, I think that's great!

At 10:20 PM, Blogger patrickafir said...

Wow, that's some serious commitment (six times!)... And those journal entries are inspiring and moving.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Gindy said...

I was going to say what Patrick said. I still haven't been once (to my embarrassment).

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Sergeant America said...

Esther, thanks for sharing!

The words of the volunteers are refreshing testimony in these troubled times in which we all live. Giving of one's self is a tradition that makes the volunteer receive as much as those he/she assists with their efforts.

Good on ya'!

Preemptive Disclaimer: Suicide bombers are not "giving of themselves." Their acts are those of the cult mindset and destroy the credibility of their instigators.

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Esther said...

Thanks timothy and warren!

Patrick, can you believe that? And it's not like Paul's a young buck still. He's amazing.

gindy, it's never too is.

SA -- :)


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