25 Jun Uniting as Jews to do Good
While many Jewish millennials are interested in volunteer work, only a small percentage do so through Jewish organizations. The Jewish Agency’s Project TEN is a global volunteering program for young Jewish adults, giving them opportunities to serve in vulnerable communities while exploring their Jewish identity
“With Jews from around the world distancing themselves from Israel, and Israelis not understanding the Jewish Diaspora mindset, one thing that can bring them together is an amazing cultural experience,” says Martine, Chair of Project TEN’s Advisory Committee.
The South Africa-born Martine has volunteered for causes dedicated to the Jewish community since emigrating to the United States in the 1980s. As a committee member on The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors, Martine realized she wanted to help guide a younger generation into meaningful service.
“I loved the idea of young Jews doing good with their peers, coming together in a program that allows them to really interact and be an ‘Or Lagoyim,’ a Light Unto the Nations, by making the world a better place,” says Martine. “This work is so important for both individuals and communities, and in the process, we’re creating a standard for volunteerism and participation.”
With Jews from around the world distancing themselves from Israel, and Israelis not understanding the Jewish Diaspora mindset, one thing that can bring them together is an amazing cultural experience.
Volunteers work on humanitarian projects that promote education, public health and agriculture, while learning more about international development and local and Jewish culture and identity. There are Project TEN centers in Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda, and plans to open new centers in Puerto Rico, Greece and more locations in Israel within the year.
Through mentoring a young generation of volunteers, Martine has personally witnessed how Jewish people from all corners of the world are connected by their very identity of being Jewish. One of her most poignant memories is from a Friday night in Israel as the sun set. Sitting in a circle, volunteers shared what Shabbat meant to them.
One American spoke about the religious aspect of the day, while another shared that the Sabbath was about lighting candles before going out to dinner as a family. An Israeli participant shared that he spends Saturdays at a beach in Tel Aviv as his day of rest after work-filled weekdays.
By working alongside volunteers, Martine has seen firsthand how Project TEN strengthens the Jewish nation and our connection to and understanding of each other, while allowing us to do our part to make the world a better place through Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).
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