08 Jan Our volunteers explore Jewish communities all over the world
Shavei Israel‘s large-scale activities in different parts of the world and its contribution to the support and development of “lost” Jewish communities both in the Diaspora and in Israel, invariably evoke great resonance. It’s no wonder that more and more people of different ages, interests and backgrounds are enthusiastically joining our projects, making their own huge contribution to the meaningful work of returning and bringing Jews closer to their national, religious and cultural heritage.
The range of those wishing to play their part in our projects is wide and diverse. Some of them help by organizing the activities for the communities they have direct cultural and ethnic relations with, such as the women from the Beit Shemesh community, who help Shavei Israel in organizing pre-holiday parties in the local community center, or Alexander Moiseevich Gridnev, who has been the permanent and devoted gabbai (sexton) of the synogogue in the town of Vysoki, in southern Russia, already for several years.
Notable is the story of Abigail (Marina) Erlich, whose family immigrated from Argentina to Portugal, settling in Lisbon. As a result of her visits to Belmonte, Abigail subsequently joined the classes of Shavei Israel’s emissary Rav Elisha Salas, and eventually officially converted to Judaism in the Beit Din in Eretz Israel. After that, Abigail’s interest in Judaism only increased, and she wished to help other Jews follow in her path in connecting to Jewish traditions. She is currently working with Shavei Israel’s social media in Portuguese, trying to convey information about our activities to as many Portuguese speakers as possible. Abigail participates in community events in Belmonte, speaks at seminars and panel discussions, and publishes her own articles.
Other volunteers go on long journeys from Israel to bring the light of Jewish tradition and ideology to remote regions where Jewish life constantly needs support and strengthening from the outside. For example, Shoshana Hovav, a Haifa and Bar Ilan Universities graduate, taught Hebrew in the Jewish community of Belmonte in the summer, and still continues to share her teaching experience and impressions about other Bnei Anousim (Crypto-Jews) communities by publishing them in fascinating articles that you may have read before on our website.
The journey of Professor Cavaglion from Kfar Adumim lies in a more distant direction – he goes to El Salvador for a month, where he holds Shabbatons (weekend seminars) and help people to connect to Judaism and Israel. The professor was born in a small town in Italy, but long ago immigrated to Israel, where he writes books and teaches psychology in the Ashkelon Academic College.
Spanish-speaking communities also receive assistance from our volunteers. For example, Rakefet, a young woman from the Bnei Moshe community in Peru, now living in Alon Shvut, makes great contributions to the work of Bnei Anousim department, translating articles into Spanish, answering emails and participating in the preparation of promotional and stud materials. Rakefet immigrated to Israel at just nine years of age, and now received her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Ariel.
In addition to the already active volunteers, many future projects and plans by volunteers are on the agenda – such as traveling to Colombia, and to the community of Lodz, Poland, and much more.
Quite recently, Jews from all over the world lit candles every evening to celebrate the miracle of Chanukah. One of the main lessons of Chanukah that each of us needs to learn is that contribution of any person, even seemingly insignificant as the flame of a single candle, however, the constant and sincere, at a certain time is able to become a source of light and inspiration for his fellow Jews. Participation in Shavei Israel’s volunteer projects is not only an ideologically important activity and a way to change the lives of tens or even hundreds of people, but also an unforgettable life experience, an opportunity to make new acquaintances and an expansion of horizons.
We invite all those who eager to make a difference, and allow more Jews from all over the world to return to their people and their land to join us in this important mission.