Over the year Shir Hadash has worked with some of the finest and most impressive Hesed oriented organizations (and individuals) in Jerusalem. Below, please find a list of some of our favorites and consider getting in touch with them to see how you might be able to contribute your time and energy to help them fulfill their mission – and in the process, help improve Israeli social society in general.
If you are someone looking for a specific project to volunteer for, and are not sure where to begin, contact Shir Hadash directly and we’d be glad to suggest an appropriate match and put you in touch with the relevant person within the organization.
The world gemach is an acronym for the Jewish term Gemilut chasidim (acts of loving kindness). A gemach in the classical sense is a free loan society, but in truth can be anytype of ‘recycling’ agency serving as a repository of useful items that people may borrow and then return. To get an idea of the types of gemachs in operation, check out this linkshowing gemachs listed in the Har Nof phonebook … and then consider alleviating a need in your community by starting a gemach of your own.
The Israel Free Loan Association (IFLA) has extended over $82 million in interest-free loans to more than 32,000 new immigrants and their families from the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Ethiopia, and to Israeli families in need. The IFLA makes about 350 loans every month! (And it would would make even more if it had more funds).
Yad Sarah is the leading volunteer-staffed organization in Israel. With the assistance of over 6,000 volunteers in more than 100 locations, Yad Sarah provides help to over 380,000 people every year, addressing the home care needs of the frail and the disabled, as well as victims of terror, children with special needs, and homebound older adults. Services include day rehabilitation centers, a geriatric dental clinic, home repair services, laundry services, meals and meals-on-wheels programming, transportion for the disabled, oxygen service and personal alarm systems. BUT Yad Sarah is best known for its lending medical equipment service. Over 320,000 items of medical and rehabilitative equipment are lent out every year, from the most basic (such as crutches) to the most sophisticated (such as cardiac apnea monitors).
Ezrat Avot Senior Citizen and Community Center aims to relieve the poverty and loneliness of Jerusalem’s needy elders by empowering them with basic tools of self-advocacy and encouraging them to maintain self-sufficiency. Ezrat Avot helps seniors to “age-in-place” in dignity, within a supportive community structure. Their senior citizen center provides food, clothing, enrichment classes and vital social services in a warm, culturally distinct environment. Recognizing the value of involving the entire community, Ezrat Avot’s secondary goal is to bridge the generation gap, reconnecting Israeli youth with the elderly through “A Living Connection,” an intergenerational school program and national resource center.
Yad Lakashish (Lifeline for the Old) is a voluntary community organization that offers work opportunities, support services and intergenerational programs for several hundred men and women, needy elderly and disabled in Jerusalem. Thousands of visitors from around the world come to meet the elderly at work and learn about Lifeline’s Tzedaka message … and to shop for Judaica in their amazing gift shop where all the items are made by the senior participants in the program. When looking for your next gift, visit Yad Lakashish first.
At Beit Frankforter Day Care Center for the Elderly, participants are offered regular care not only from dentists and opthomolgists, but also from hairdressers, reflexologists, manicurists and yog instructors. Many activities are offered, including lectures, computer courses, English and Hebrew lessons and daily exercises. Especially valuable is a new program – the Savtas of Beit Frankforter – in which the seniors make morning sandwiches for children in the neighborhood whose parents cannot, or do not have the money, to prepare this basic snack for their child. To learn more, volunteer your talents, or donate funds, call 02-671-4848.
Simcha LaYeled seeks to help children in Israel overcome illness, injury or disability by enabling them to go on trips, play sports and participate in everyday activities that might otherwise appear too daunting. Simcha LaYeled runs activity centers in hospitals for outpatients undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments to help relieve the parents who are watching them. Simcha LaYeled also provides entertainment and excitement to sick children and their families in hospitals through the use of clowns, magicians and musicians. Family getaway programs and retreats offer children and their families much needed rest and relaxation. Simcha LaYeled also coordinates a motivated group of young volunteers who make all the above activities possible. Check out their youtube promotional video here.
Shalva provies comprehensive programs for special needs children around the clock seven days a week – enabling parents of such children to revive their physical and emotional strength to contineu caring for their children at home; providing the child with independent living skills and helping him/her reach full potential; providing professional advice and support to individuals and communal and social organizations; educating the young generation of volunteers to teh values of giving and tolerance.
Mercaz Harmony is an educational organization through which children with disabilities and their typical peers grow and learn together. In addition to operating Gan Harmony (an integrated nursery school), Mercaz Harmony offers a variety of programs dedicated to individuals with special needs and their families, opportunities and activities towards better inclusion in school, society and life in general.
Kids for Kids works to enrich the lives of Israeli children who have been direct victims of terrorism. Kids for Kids encourages Jewish youth all over the world to get involved in helping to relieve the suffering of their Israeli counterparts.
Here’s a U.S. based organization that might be of interest to some: Songs of Love is a network of songwriters and performers who write individual, personalized songs for children with life-threatening illnesses.
HUNGER & POVERTY
Shachen Tov, or the Good Neighbor Association, collects food from local grocery stores, creates packages consisting of basic necessities and then distributes them via neighborhood volunteers to more than 400 needy families. For more information or to volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or be in touch with Shir Hadash’s Shachen Tov coordinator Malka Zeisel Harati at malkalh @ yahoo.com.
The Chicken Lady is Mrs. Clara Hammer, a one-woman 90 year old + hesed machine who provides Shabbat and Holiday meals for more than 200 needy families. Read more about Clara’s amazing story here, and then consider helping her effort by either volunteering your time or donating funds. Her phone is 02-581-6141; her address is 4 Mishmar HaGvul Street / Ramat Eshkol Jerusalem. Also, you can donate via the internet by visiting this link and indicating your interest in making a donation to Clara (of which, 100% will make it to her).
UPDATE: Mrs. Hammer recently passed away at age 100. The fund continues at the same address run now by her granddaughter.
Rabbanit Bracha Kapach is a Jerusalem institution. Among some of her many hesed projects, she provides food packages to over 5,000 families for Passover, runs a wedding dress gemach for needy brides and organizes a summer camp for poor children. Read more about her here, or call her at 02-624-9296 to offer to volunteer or donate to her non-profit organization, Keren Segulat Naomi.
Yad Eliezer takes advantage of nearly 10,000 volunteers to provide food and social services to over 9,000 needy families on a weekly or monthly basis. Some of Yad Eliezer’s programs include: a fund for Israel’s neediest couples to help with wedding expenses, a fund that distributes baby formula to over 1,400 babies, a poultry program designed to distribute chickens for Yom Tov, Meals on Wheels for elderly and disabled, a Big Brother mentoring program, an orphan’s fund and a Job Training program.
Carmei Ha’ir is a ‘restaurant’ that feeds hungry Jerusalemites. Volunteer chefs and professional cooks prepare tasty dishes, while high school and university students (and others of course) volunteer as ‘waiters.’ Patrons may deposit whatever amount they choose into a box as payment (or nothing at all). The restaurant is also open on Shabbat and Yom Tov to provide a festive experience for those without families to go to or means to provide for themselves. Additionally, Carmei Ha’ir volunteers prepare and distribute sandwiches for children whose parents cannot afford bread in time for the 10 AM school break.