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Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’
Back at the turn of twentieth century, when Jewish settlers and farmers began to return to their land, no law existed in the area, and there was no sovereign to enforce it. In 1909, “Ha’Shomer” – “The Guardian” – was established to protect these pioneers and their endeavors. They were the forerunners of the Haganah, which subsequently developed into the IDF. They were warriors, horse-riding, gun-carrying, Arabic-speaking Jews who decided to protect what was theirs, understanding that only steadfastness would enable the Jews returning to their land to survive. They fought, and in many cases, they won.
It seems that in Israel circa 2012, some things haven’t changed. Many of the farmers face the same challenges as their precursors, including repetitive land seizures, theft and destruction of crops, theft of livestock, physical assault, ongoing threats, and damage to property. Since 2004, over one thousand heads of cattle have been stolen.
Seeing the dire necessity on the ground, a few young men have gotten together and established “Ha’Shomer Ha’Chadash,” -”The New Guardian” – with the same objectives as the original. They have taken upon themselves the task of providing security to farmers and ranchers, primarily in the Negev and the Galilee. Maintaining a continuous physical presence, 700 volunteers at 21 locations help farmers secure their lands and property. Areas patrolled by the volunteers have experienced a significant drop in violent actions against farmers.
The organization’s objective is to create a strategic change in Israeli society, developing awareness about the adversities landowners and farmers face, strengthening the weakened connection of Israelis to their land, and stressing the significance of ownership over open territory in the Negev and Galilee. These ideas are implemented by volunteers who stand guard, protecting farms and grazing lands. The volunteers also promote these Zionist ideals through educational ventures.
According to the organization, the motives for their antagonists’ actions are not only financial, but ideological as well. Their aim is to exhaust the farmers and drive them off the land, so that they can claim it for themselves, thus weakening the Jewish presence.
The police and authorities are working to eliminate the problems, but are understaffed and have difficulty responding properly. The New Guardian cooperates with law enforcement, filling in gaps left by the police.
The organization also has an educational program which trains young men and prepares them for leadership positions. An activist in the organization told Tazpit that the New Guardian has had a number of successes. Wherever they have a presence, attacks lessen, although harassment has not ceased completely. Her feelings are mixed. On one hand, the “other side” knows the New Guardian exists and is wary of the organization’s volunteers, but lately there has been an increase in hostilities. The aggressors have become bolder. The New Guardian will continue its activities, and has even attempted to meet the other side to learn its needs and perhaps come to some sort of understanding.
She says that the key is in how we perceive ourselves – “we must behave as owners of land and conduct ourselves with pride. We should internalize the notion that this is our country. If we do so, the other side’s attitude will change as well.” The focus is not the attackers, but on strengthening our roots in our land.
Based on these vital concepts, the organization has plans to broaden its educational activities, becoming a social movement that endeavors to present the ideas of courage, land, fraternity, dedication, and mutual responsibility to Israeli society. The New Guardian will work to create a public discourse on these issues, hoping to have an influence on individuals who will internalize these ideals and act upon them.
In conclusion, she said: “I grew up in a very Zionistic home, where I was educated to believe in the good in every human being, and where I was imbued with a love of the land. Hashomer Hachadash wants to direct Israelis towards these values, reconnecting them to their land and their country. There is a general feeling that these good old basic values are lacking now, and we want to return to them.”
Tel Aviv District Police has completed its preparations for Memorial Day and the 64th Independence Day of the State of Israel. County units will operate with reinforcements of Police, Border Guard officers and Civil Defense volunteers, increasing normal security arrangements, easing traffic flow and preventing criminal activity.
Police and volunteers will conduct foot and motorized patrols in crowded areas, markets, shopping centers, transport stations, and cemeteries (on Memorial Day), as well as in resorts, parks, museums and beaches (on Independence Day).
The traffic system will be supplemented by volunteers who will be utilized in maintaining the flow in main traffic arteries, in parks and outside cemeteries. Independence Day will see a stricter enforcement of the laws against driving under the influence of alcohol, and intoxication tests will be conducted.
Around public entertainment stages, clubs and pubs, Police will act to prevent violence and drug use, as well as selling alcohol to minors, using detonators and gas sprays, as well as unlicensed peddling.
The public is being asked to obey by Police and security guards, and to report any suspicious person or object. Personal weapons should be left at home.
A hotline center will address questions related to traffic on Memorial Day, starting at 6:30 P.m. Israel time, at 03-6801982.
In February, Chessed Yad L’Yad, Kiryat Mattersdorf’s local chesed organization, celebrated forty years of active involvement in the community. Beged Yad L’Yad, the Hand-Me-Down Pass-Me-On clothing gemach, was a natural subsidiary, especially with dozens of Anglo-Saxon families receiving clothing packages from abroad.
I stepped in 22 years ago, and with help from Hashem, and even The Jewish Press, it was flying, rather, floating. I was writing a weekly column at the time, Israel’s Sunnier Side, and putting an occasional “gesmache” plug for clothing, and the packages began coming by boat – and once even an air load from Miami!
So we grew and like Johnny Appleseed, opened up branches throughout Jerusalem and beyond, most of which quickly became independent.
Our forty-year celebration awarded five women with lovely framed plaques for distinguished service, yours truly among them.
But so many people make this project possible that I decided to devote a column to the Button Ladies, who have sat and snipped buttons off garments before they are trashed for recycling. Two of them, of blessed memory, were wives of famous people. There was Rebbetzin Malka Isbee Gurwitz, second wife of the Gateshead Rosh Yeshiva, R’ Leib Gurwitz zt”l, and Rebbetzin Kahane, wife of MK Rabbi Kalman Kahane.
Rebbetzin Malka, in her eighties, came down from upstairs, accompanied by her walker and caregiver to help settle her in. Then she went to work, regaling us with memories from her Detroit days as a teenager, when she worked in a button factory to help the family finances. Remember, those were the days of the Depression, when being shomer Shabbos and supporting a family were almost not possible. Half a century later, after years of very active communal involvement in Detroit, she realized her dream of aliyah, and then, as a second-time widow, came full circle and buttonholed herself perfectly by us, making sure that nothing went to waste.
An unsung gemach heroine up to this article.
Then there was Rebbetzin Kahana, crowning a life as an active member of the chareidi community, in her nineties, clocking in to fold shirts and snip off buttons, very important adjuncts which our busy volunteers did not have time for.
Not famous was Chava,* an arthritic volunteer living on the sixth floor. I think she earned her olam haba by defying a broken elevator one time and showing up with her walker! It was in her era that the following button story took place:
Aviva* comes in one day looking for fancy buttons. “I have a bar mitzvah coming up, and while I don’t mind wearing my standard simchah dress, I’d like to give it a new touch.” Her well-to-do mother will be coming in from the States and Aviva, whose husband is still in learning and who has a large family, does not want to look nebby.
Foraging among the treasures of gold, silver and diamonds, she comes up with gorgeous buttons that would easily cost $10 apiece in a shop. As she comes to pay her shekel, she notices a beaded evening purse for sale and shells out another three shekel.
The mother was duly impressed and thrilled with her daughter’s gift of the purse, which happened to be the rave in her high society. And ever since then, we – and Aviva – have been on the lookout for similar ones for her mother’s friends…
But geshmach miracles don’t often repeat themselves. Like a kaleidoscope, they come in different shapes and colors. Like buttons…
We had a different Malka who, sadly, is also no longer with us. This unsung heroine came from Brazil and the only way we could communicate with her was in Yiddish. An orphan girl in her forties, she dreamed of a shidduch, but we volunteers, while encouraging her, did not have much hope that this would happen. She gave her soul to the gemach, untangling belts, folding clothing and cutting off buttons. She even took work home with her!
Malka lived with an aunt who occasionally set her up with shidduchim. She did have an illustrious lineage going for her, stemming from the Chassam Sofer and from famous Rebbishe families. We would root for her before each meeting, and commiserate with her when things fell through. We duly expressed our reverence when she came back from an occasional Shabbos spent by her famous cousin (I forgot which Rebbe), who had actually spent time talking and even bantering with her.
Malka was summoned back to Heaven very suddenly when she was crossing the street one motzaei Shabbos and got hit by a car. Several volunteers attended her funeral and wept. But surely, her pure, precious and wholesome soul had found a beautiful place there.
Our story is not finished.
I had marked the date on my calendar. It was a year later, in June, that I woke up and went out to see what had sprouted in my yard. Living on the ground floor with a large front yard, I had begun encouraging people to drop things off there so that I could do the occasional washing and mending to save a good garment, and sort clothing when I wasn’t on duty at the gemach itself across the street (a busman’s holiday).
Anti-Semitic slogans scrawled in Calgary and an Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents conducted by B’nai Brith Canada showing a steady rise in anti-Jewish incidents has prompted a former Israeli counter-terrorism expert to establish a Jewish guard troop for relevant sites throughout Canada.
Program coordinator Doron Horowitz, Director of National Security Infrastructure for the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs – and decorated former IDF soldier specializing in counter-terrorism – has announced the formation of a network of professionally-trained volunteers who will patrol Canadian synagogues and Jewish community centers.
The “Community Security Network” will be comprised of individuals aged 25 to 50 who will be subjected to background checks and psychological screenings to determine their fitness for the positions. Those who are accepted will be trained in counter-surveillance, physical fitness, and observation, and be responsible for guarding no less than 5 hours per month at sensitive Jewish locations.
The program, which is being initiated in Toronto, will initially be comprised of 25 unarmed, ununiformed volunteers. If successful, it will be launched across Canada.
Horowitz stressed that the program is meant to coordinate with current and ongoing law enforcement security efforts on behalf of the Jewish community, and will act in cooperation with local authorities. It will not exercise force or violence, according to Horowitz, but maintain vigilance, report to law officials and emphasize prevention.
Bnai Brith Canada reported that 1,306 anti-Semitic incidents took place in Canada in 2010, a rise of 3.3% over 2009.
In the UK, the sizable Community Security Trust unites 3,000 volunteers in defense of 300 British synagogues, with the NY Community Security Service modeled after it. Brooklyn, New York’s Shomrim (“Guards”) also surveys the security situation in New York City and Brooklyn.
Bikur Cholim of South Palm Beach County has announced that the new Jewish Hospitality Suite and Shabbat Room for family members of patients at Boca Raton Regional Hospital is now open. The room, located on the third floor, is made possible by generous gifts from Bikur Cholim of South Palm Beach County, The Yehuda Memorial Center, and the hospital. It is the first Shabbat Room in Palm Beach County.
“We are very pleased to be working with Boca Raton Regional Hospital to provide this new service to the Jewish community.” said Stanley Smith, Bikur Cholim’s founder and president. “It will be greatly appreciated by patients and family members who will now be able to be with their loved ones on the Sabbath and holidays, and will contribute to better patient care.”
The opening is the culmination of seven years of effort by Smith, which took place through several successive hospital administrations. Renovation and furnishing is currently underway and the room is expected to be in full use in December. The attractively decorated and comfortably furnished room is equipped with kitchen facilities, couches, tables and chairs, Jewish books and religious articles. The room will have a variety of kosher foods that will be regularly restocked and by Bikur Cholim volunteers.
“Having a family member or dear friend ill and hospitalized is a trying experience for everyone involved,” said Jerry Fedele, president and CEO of Boca Raton Regional Hospital. “Providing a Shabbat Room for our visitors will greatly help in allowing them to see and support their loved ones. We are most pleased to partner with Bikur Cholim and Yehuda Memorial Center on this most worthwhile endeavor.”
Bikur Cholim of South Palm Beach County is an organization of volunteers that visits Jewish patients in hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, hospices and homes. The organization lends a wide variety of durable medical equipment free of cost. Volunteers bring comfort, encouragement and prayer and help patients and their families address special needs and concerns.
The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center, located at 2031 Harrison Street in Hollywood, is looking for volunteers to begin immediately. The center needs transcribers, audit/editors, proofreaders, and abstractors. The work is of vital importance. As the pool of aging survivors diminishes, it becomes increasingly urgent that their stories be documented and recorded.
Transcribers listen to an audiocassette copied from a videotape of a testimony of a survivor, liberator, rescuer or other eyewitnesses. They transcribe the testimony verbatim as heard on the cassette. An Oral History Summary Report will be provided to them as a guide to the correct spelling of foreign words, cities, places, etc. The transcription of the testimony is word for word, as spoken by the interviewee and the interviewer.
Audit/editors listen to the audiocassette and read the transcribed copy of the interview. They make the necessary typing corrections and add punctuation or any additional wording that was left out of the transcript.
Foreign audit/editors listen to the cassette. They correct and fill in foreign words and expressions, names of people and places, camps and the personnel, etc.
Proofreaders check the entire transcript for formatting, punctuation, spelling, and any other errors in the transcript. It is the final step before the transcript is sent to print.
Abstracts are written from the text of the transcribed interview. Key words and information such as dates and places are abstracted from the testimony. The abstract is a short version, approximately one page, of the full interview.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Rita Hofrichter at (954) 929-5690.