Our German friends discover what Israel is to them and to the Jewish people through volunteering and language exchange.
Doing groceries for a group of 23 people was always a real challenge, not due to the amount of food we had to carry, but because we couldn’t read the language on labels!
Google Translate didn't help us. Usually the staff in the supermarket don’t speak English either, so we had no other choice than to search for long periods of time for the right item. Some of us were very surprised when we looked at the Israeli beer shelf in the supermarket and discovered that they also sell Bavarian beer – “oh, they have Paulaner"!
Early Monday morning, our group headed off to Mount Herzl for our visit to Yad Vashem. Our guide, Aviva, born in Switzerland, guided us through the museum and held a workshop for us on art and the holocaust.
I think the memorial hall for the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered was one of the most touching and sad experiences. At the end of the day, our mood was dampened, and we headed pensively back to the BBY. I‘m sure that this visit to Yad Vashem is going to stay in all our minds for a very long time.
After only being in Israel for a week, we – the new volunteers – already experienced one of the most spectacular and special days in Israel: the holiday “Yom Kippur." This is the holiest day in Jewish calendar on which the country stands still for 25 hours.
Shops are closed, and there aren't any cars on the roads. On Erev Yom Kippur, some of us decided to go to a synagogue and after, the Western Wall. This was a very special experience. Since Yom Kippur was also our first day off in 3 weeks full of programming and Ulpan, a lot of the volunteers decided to discover the Old City of Jerusalem, Shuk Machane Yehudah and East Jerusalem. One one of the last evenings in the BBY, we invited our “Freundeskreis” over. Some of the volunteers brought their musical instruments with them and played songs for our guests.
Afterward, our whole group proudly sang the song “Ani Ohev” that we were taught by our Ulpan teacher, Tlalit. The other volunteers cooked and prepared a nice buffet in advance for our guests. Others prepared games to make it easier to get to know the newcomers. It was a very nice evening on which we had the chance to talk a lot and get to know many people from our “Freundeskreis." Some of us were even able to bond with our host parents, the families with whom we would soon be spending two days of Sukkot.
We had lots of programming throughout our seminar. We went on trips and listened to lectures about Israeli society, celebrated the Jewish holidays and learned about the Middle East conflict. This all gave us a great overview and introduction to Israeli society, and now we’re ready to start our lives here. We’re finally heading off to our cities and getting to work.
See you soon, and best regards,The New Volunteers