Volunteer

Yad LaKashish depends on the help and energy of our wonderful volunteers. If you’re spending a few months in Jerusalem, please do consider volunteering with us.

Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Workshops: Working side-by-side with the elderly artisans and helping the workshop leaders with the needs of the workshop.
  • Tour Guiding: Help share the message of Yad LaKashish with the public by showing visitors around the workshops and introducing them to our elderly! (Sunday through Thursday, morning hours only.)
  • Gift Shop: Help organize and sell the beautiful handmade products in the gift shop (Sunday-Thursday, 9am-4pm and Friday, 9am-1pm) 

Contact us to find out more about both short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities!

A Volunteer Speaks: Peter Rabinowitz

Lawyer Peter Rabinowitz originally heard of us after his son visited Yad LaKashish, but he himself had never ventured beyond the gift shop. Yet this didn’t stop him from volunteering to spend countless hours during his sabbatical year in Israel helping us. Peter worked in the carpentry, the gift shop and with the groups, and brought many friends to see our program in action.

 

"Volunteering at Yad LaKashish was a thoroughly enjoyable and transformative experience, not only in being able to support and assist one of the most wonderful human services organizations in the world, with a 50+ year track record of success improving the lives of the poor elderly of Jerusalem, but especially because of the terrific people I got to know.

Yad LaKashish's professional staff is so talented and committed to the mission and values of the organization and took special efforts to ensure that I was warmly welcomed, made to feel part of the family, and always busy with meaningful work.

The other volunteers with whom I worked ranged in age from their 20's to their 90's and each had a unique and compelling story of what brought them to Israel and to Yad LaKashish. One day over tea and cookies at break, four of my volunteer colleagues shared with me how they escaped from Europe just before the Holocaust. Their stories resonated since these survivors were now my friends and colleagues and they entrusted me with preserving their memories. The volunteers and staff truly cared about each other, helped each other (I got so many nice invitations for Passover seder!) and took pride and pleasure in their meaningful volunteer work, plus everyone so nicely tried to help me improve my Hebrew!

The visitors to Yad LaKashish to whom I gave tours or who I assisted in the gift shop all came with a purpose and their eyes lit up when they met the talented senior artisans and saw the beautiful artworks in the shop. I will always remember the laughter, hugs and tears of joy when members of a Birthright Group from Russia spoke in Russian with many of the senior artisans and they exchanged stories about the old country, It was as if these young folks were visiting their proud grandparents who they hadn't seen in a while.

While volunteering at Yad LaKashish there was always a chance for playing "Jewish geography" when I would ask our visitors where they were from and we'd invariably know people in common -- one couple from Denver turned out to be close friends of my cousins and we had all been at a family Bat Mitzvah together! The visiting church groups were also a pleasure to host and asked such good questions. And the visiting camp groups were much fun too -- one day there was both a group from the Philadelphia where I lived and one from the city where I went to college -- the kids were thrilled that I knew their favorite pizza places back home and was able to help them pick-out beautiful souvenirs of Israel for their parents and siblings. That's just how our family got hooked on Yad LaKashish when my son's NFTY Israel Trip group visited about 8 years ago and he came back home with the most beautiful and meaningful souvenirs - true works of art - which we still cherish! And our Yad LaKashish challah cover is now ever more sentimental for me since I sold similar ones when I volunteered in the shop and also was responsible for doing their inventory!

Two purchases I assisted with in the gift shop will always stand-out: a man who bought a beautifully crafted Torah breastplate, hand-cut by the senior men in the metal shop, to adorn a sefer Torah that his elderly father had commissioned for their synagogue. The son was about to leave for a flight home to the U.S. to say goodbye to his father who in the hospital and he wanted him to see the breast plate on the Torah before he passed away. The other was a young girl who came into the shop just before closing time with her parents to buy a Talit for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah: she was a violinist and within five minutes we found for her a a gorgeous silk talit hand-painted with musical instruments including a violin: beshert! She was so happy and I know she will always cherish the Talit not just because of its beauty and its association with her Bat mitzvah but also because buying it was an act of Tikun Olam, helping to support the poor elderly of Jerusalem and to give added purpose and joy to their lives through their work at Yad LaKashish."

Meet a Volunteer: Nurit Benrey

Brandeis University student Nurit Benrey first visited Yad LaKashish with San Diego Jewish Academy as part of the AlexanderMussHigh School in Israel program. Several years later, Nurit returned, this time as an intern with Onward Israel. She spent the summer leading groups around the workshops, helping out in the textiles and ceramics studios, and assisting in our gift shop.

“Yad LaKashish creates positive inspiring energy by providing a purpose to those in need. Volunteering at Yad LaKashish was a life changing experience! Thank you!”

Meet a Volunteer: Lisa Leff

Lisa Leff remembers visiting Yad LaKashish ten years ago with a Women’s League group. When she returned this summer as a volunteer, it was to give groups of all ages that same experience. After heading back home to Philadelphia, it was only a few weeks before Lisa was volunteering for us again, this time helping out at the Yad LaKashish booth at the Women’s League Convention.

“The smiling faces of the elderly who wished me "boker tov" each morning reinforced what I already knew - that we are all part of the same family regardless of our nationality, language, or place in life.  I can't wait to be back at Yad LaKashish next Spring.”

Meet Our Volunteers: Becky and Jenny Koshner

Sisters Becky and Jenny Koshner have been to Yad LaKashish several times; most recently with their mother Rabbi Lynn Goldstein and a group from Moses Montifiore Temple of Bloomington, IL. Becky and Chaya were inspired to spend some of their summer helping out in the ceramics and paper-mache studios, and got to know how we work behind the scenes.

"For Becky and me, volunteering at Yad Lakashish was an incredible experience not only because of the connections we formed with those employed, but because we had the chance to see how great of an impact Yad Lakashish makes on their lives.”

Photography & Oral History Project

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This winter, Yad LaKashish volunteer Elena Mukhortova from Russia embarked on a photography and oral history project, interviewing several of the artisans and photographing many more.

All of the elderly artisans at Yad LaKashish are immigrants to Israel, having experienced their own personal "Exodus" from persecution to freedom. A great many are Holocaust survivors from the Former Soviet Union who fled Nazi terror, and then suffered persecution under Communist rule. Others are from Ethiopia and undertook the perilious journey to Israel, only to find themselves ill-equipped to integrate into Israel's modern society. Wherever they come from, through the financial aid and support services of Yad LaKashish, these elderly immigrants are economically and socially empowered to become integrated into Israeli society as equal members.

This winter, Yad LaKashish was proud to facilitate a unique photography and oral history project. Elena Mukhortova from Russia spent several months at Yad LaKashish photographing and recording the stories of some of our elderly artisans. You can read a couple of extracts from the project on our Life Stories page, plus many more profiles of the elderly.

Profile of a Volunteer - Avi Aharoni

 

Avi Aharoni of Minneapolis, MN volunteered this past spring in the metal workshop of Yad LaKashish. Avi's program Aardvark is one of many volunteer programs that partner with Yad LaKashish. He made a wonderful connection with one of the elderly artisans from Russia, Anatoli. Together, they shared their most-loved music – both American and Russian – over headphones as they worked.

"I loved volunteering at Yad LaKashish, I really did. Walking in to the place the first time, I immediately felt the amazing energy of the place. I know all the elderly I worked with during my time each had a story to tell, and that was probably my favorite part of working with them. Everybody there has already lead a full life, an interesting life, and now they are working communally together for a greater goal. The staff was also very welcoming and nice when I first arrived, while the elderly took me in like a baby animal in a pack. I became good friends with one man especially, Anatoli, who sat at my table. We got to the point where we got so close, we would go out for Shwarma every Thursday after work. It was truly amazing. And the best part was, we didn't even share a common language. That's the sort of connection a place like Yad LaKashish creates. I truly believe you do amazing work.

Thank you guys for everything!" - Avi

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein-Closing Thoughts of a Special Volunteer

Yad LaKashish was honored to have a very special volunteer this past year. Rabbi Elyse  Goldstein describes her experience at Yad LaKashish:

"It's generally understood that volunteering is a good thing. Rabbis spend a lot of time encouraging people to do it, but how special when the Rabbi herself gets to commit a full year to a cause she has gotten others to support for so many years.

This year I was privileged to devote one day a week of my sabbatical to Yad LaKashish. I helped out doing P.R. and leading tours through the workshops, and also developed new skills of cash register and store management!

There is only one word I can use to describe my experience: humbling. When I felt I was facing a challenge of language, or acclimating, or adjusting to Israeli life, I thought of the immigrants at Yad LaKashish who came in their 70's and 80's, learned a new skill, learned a new language, made friends, and engaged in meaningful work. When I felt there was nothing one person could do in this world, I sat down with one of the elderly artisans and started a conversation and saw how it brightened their day. When I worried about how young kids treat their elders, I watched a family tour group interact with the oldest artisans and make them laugh. Being at Yad LaKashish meant being available to the staff for suggestions and even questions of Jewish content, being part of the life of the artisans, and getting to know the amazing other volunteers. Sharing my passion with the groups and individuals who came to see Yad LaKashish at work made me feel even more passionate. Just sitting in the beautiful courtyard would lift my spirits every week. In fact, I would call my volunteering at Yad LaKashish a spiritual experience.

Even though everyone at Yad LaKashish thanked me for my time, it is I who thank them for letting me into their lives and their hearts, and giving me the unique opportunity to make a small contribution to a very grand cause."

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein

Sentiments from a Former Volunteer

"My friends at Yad Lakashish,

I've been home for 2 weeks now and have had some time to do a lot of thinking and reflecting on the life changing summer I spent with you all. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to help with the wonderful contribution you have made to the elderly community in Jerusalem. Even after helping out for two months, I was still in shock every morning when I arrived to see these people creating such beautiful products. It is truly a very unique organization that has completely touched my heart. Send all of my love to my friends in the Cartonage! Really, thank you so much for an amazing summer.

Lots of love from North Carolina,

Jayme Watral"

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Every day, more than 300 elderly and disabled Jerusalem residents depend on Yad LaKashish to make their Golden Years shine.

 

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