It was the best volunteer experience since I began doing this kind of trip.
Skilled Volunteers for Israel, the program I used was efficient, caring and very supportive. They provided three venues for me to work with, although one was eliminated because I got sick and could not complete the numbers of days required to make it worthwhile. Terry, my Israeli contact was a g-d sent when I got sick. It was like having my sister hovering over me to make sure I was on the road to recovery.
I also worked at a second location which was a Hebrew speaking Senior Center called Moadon Avivim. At the Moadon, I taught Tai Chi and engaged the seniors in a knitting project to create Twiddlemuffs. Check out this link to similar Twiddlemuff projects.
I stayed at an Air BnB in a Abu Tor, a successful neigborhood that includes Israelis and Arabs. My apartment was within walking distance of both work sites and the Old City. Although I could use the buses, I choose to walk each day.
The couple that I stayed with were excellent hosts. They hosted a Friday Shabbat dinner every week with friends and some paying guests that wanted to experience a Friday shabbat dinner with an Israeli family.
I learned where to get the correct buses, walked through the German Colony, took leisurely walks through the old city along a beautifully groomed trail that was 4 blocks from my residence. Imagine that I was able to practice my Tai Chi overlooking the Dome of the Rock and the Old City.
In addition, I went to a concert honoring Shlomo Carlbach on the anniversary of his death. It was so moving to listen to his music, to watch the observant men dance to honor Hashem. So many of the people attending were very familiar with his teaching and music.
I went to services at a local community center where I had the pleasure of being invited to a Shabbat luncheon, where I met Peter who had been at another Saturday luncheon at a friend’s house. It seems I met people wherever I went in Jerusalem, whether at a learning session or Friday night services.
I had a truly memorable 3 weeks and I felt as if I were home, with people who were inclusive, caring and very hospitable. I did miss my family and friends, but I could not have asked for a better way to spend 3 weeks.