The seminary gap year that so many idealistic and excited young women take in Israel is full of experiences, life-determining moments and even some learning.
The girls of one seminary, Midreshet Amudim, in Jerusalem’s German colony, has definitely internalized Israel’s ideal of mutual responsibility, in the short few months they have been here. And although most of them were not planning to experience the most vicious war in modern Israel’s history, they have risen to the challenge of their sisters and brothers and asked themselves what they can do to help.
Well of course they volunteered in hospitals and daycare, packing packages and basically whatever they could do to be helpful. Moreover, they decided to launch an initiative, a Cause Match campaign on October 29, among their peers, with the fundraising goal, of $10,000 being pledged to the OneFamily Fund, an organization that helps terror victims in numerous ways.
The girls are asking their friends and acquaintances, all teenagers, to make micro-donations (a really unfair term, because this is huge) and donate – babysitting money, bar and bat mitzvah money, birthday money, whatever they have, knowing that this money will be spent to help thousands of families in hundreds of ways.
Dr. Julie Goldstein is the director of this small, modern-orthodox seminary of girls aged 18-19, mainly from the USA and Canada, which she founded 7 years ago, shortly after making aliyah with her husband and children from Fair Lawn NJ, where her husband, Rabbi Uri Goldstein was a community rabbi. They now live in Beit Shemesh (aka The 51st State). Dr. Goldstein received an MA in Jewish philosophy at YU and a joint PhD in medieval history and Judaic Studies from NYU.
The Midrasha started this year with 20 students plus bogrot (slightly older students) and 14 students plus bogrot remain.
The girls of Midreshet Amudim have been in the front lines of chesed, since this tragedy began. Five of the girls left for “back home” but 14 remained despite the sirens and the forays to the bomb shelters. The girls understand the frustration of teenagers in America who want to be involved, who want to help but don’t know what they can do.
So the girls of Amudim came up with the plan for their friends and relatives girls to get involved in a real, hands-on way by making donations with their own money.
The campaign has a two week deadline and of course a hashgacha pratit story.
Dr. Goldstein uses CauseMatch for their yearly fundraising campaign and CauseMatch contacted her, at the beginning of the war, asking if she’d like to do an emergency campaign for for free. Goldstein hadn’t planned to but when, after 5 days of planning, the girls decided on a fundraising campaign and prepared content (slogan, call to action, etc.) she contacted CauseMatch which had the fundraiser up and running within 48 hours. It’s called Noar to Noar (Youth to Youth), Across the Seas.
The content is impressive including a video featuring Rutie Afriat from L.A., as spokesperson.
For Gabi Kronenberg, 18 from Manhattan, a graduate of SAR high School, this is her first experience with war. Gabi says that she’s trying to take it day by day. When I asked how her parents feel about her staying, she said her father told her that she’s not “allowed” to come back – as long as things in Jerusalem stay relatively safe. And on a rational level, there was nothing she could do if she went back. It’s a nice nod to all the people in Israel who can’t leave, even if they want to, though few would want to.
“This way,” she says, “I’m supporting Am Yisrael at the forefront. “It’s also nice seeing how everyone in Israel bands together and helps each other. I try to appreciate the small things and remind myself that I’m part of the bigger community.”
She adds, “Most campaigns are targeted toward wealthier adults. Our campaign helps young people, who don’t have as many resources, feel that they are contributing.”
Hannah Shapiro hails from Hollywood, Florida. She is a graduate of Katz Yeshiva High school. She says that all the chesed and volunteering she’s doing is helping her cope with the situation.
This is Hannah’s very first time in Israel and she says she loves it. “It’s amazing to walk around and experience Jewish history! I stayed because I felt at home I would be reading terrifying headlines and feeling helpless and here I can make an impact on the war effort.”
And that’s the whole idea behind the campaign to help American teenagers feel like they are also making a difference. Besides the monetary aspect, the soldiers and people of Israel are buoyed by every single initiative, contribution and act of support that reinforces the idea that we are all one family!
The seminary students contacted classmates, family, friends, neighbors, and have asked them to pass on the link. “This a way you can be involved even if you’re not in Israel and don’t have a lot of money,” says Hannah.
The campaign is impressive and speaks to the hearts of fellow teenagers. In its second day, the campaign has already reached $1500. I was tempted to contribute, but this is their baby – theirs and all the Jewish teenagers abroad.
Amudim means pillars, and there is no question that when these girls return home, they will become pillars of their communities.
So time is of the essence girls (and boys) please dip into your savings, your fun money, your loose change, your allowance, and send in your donations. No donation is too small, no desire to make a difference too unimportant.
Because we are all One Family!
Link to CauseMatch page: https://causematch.com/amudim-23