NAHARIYA, ISRAEL - Some on-the-spot images of the national "Good Deeds Day 2013," held at Nahariya's seaside "Tapuz" Mercaz Klita absorption center, in cooperation with The Jewish Agency for Israel, the northern city's Department of Education, and two grades of the Nofar and Schakim Junior High School.
"Caring and giving was in the air," said organizers of Tuesday's fun, which included park inflatables, painting, popcorn and dancing. More than anything else, however, the teachers' parting words, spoken from the bottom of their hearts, characterized the event: "Thank you. Your merits have enabled us to do something for others."
The municipality of the 52,000-resident city is actively involved in assisting and contributing to the successful absorption of new immigrants. The city has a hospital, culture and sports center, as well as all the services of a thriving municipality.
Elsewhere, the Agency's flagship ConnecTLV program for linking 18-to-35 year old Jews from around the world to Israel, will play a strong part in an extended, week-long version of the Good Deeds Day project.
The project, launched in 2007 by Israeli billionaire Shari Arison, offers a multitude of opportunities for direct assistance to hundreds of non-profit organizations, as listed on Arison's Ruach Tova database.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis take part in the annual event, held at locations across the country, including absorbtion centers like Tapuz, community centers, schools, army bases, and rural communitiies.
ConnecTLV Director Shay Shenkman says that they "view volunteering as one of the most important connections between olim (new immigrants) and Israel, and a central part of their absorption into Israeli society."
ConnecTLV is liaising between new immigrants and non-profit groups playing a role in Good Deeds Day. In addition, ConnecTLV is organizing a used clothes and books drive to be donated to ALUT – The Israeli Society for Autistic Children.
Speaking with eJewish Philanthropy during last year's event. Arison said she believes that "in order make a difference in the world and to make the world a better place for all of us, we need a critical mass of people who think good and do good. If we join together we can really make a difference."
"Encouraging the spirit of volunteerism in Israel," according to her Arison Group, "takes the form of offering readily available and accessible information on volunteerism, as well as matching and connecting people who want to volunteer – according to their skills and abilities – with volunteer organizations, public bodies and people in need of assistance throughout the country."
And, since one good turn deserves another, Shenkman says "We decided to expand 'Good Deeds' to an entire week in order to allow as many olim as possible to take part in 'Good Deeds Day,' together with tens of thousands of other volunteers from all over the country, and provide them with the stage and opportunity to give of themselves to others."
Connect Israel is an initiative of The Jewish Agency for Israel that utilizes social networking to connect young Jews living in or visiting Israel to life in Israel’s urban centers. In 2011, ConnecTLV served 2,000 participants through its broad range of events and programs, which are carried out in full and growing cooperation with Israeli municipalities.