Updates from Volunteer Mission to Israel

Tags: Federation, Israel, Volunteer

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Participants on the Jewish Federation of Cleveland Volunteer Mission to Israel are participating in hands-on volunteer projects that meet pressing needs, and experiencing how Cleveland supports Israel in times of peace and war. Read about their experience below:

Day 1 
by Allison Wuliger, Volunteer Mission co-chair

Yesterday I began my volunteer mission in Israel, six months after Hamas’ terror attack. We began our day in Rishon LeTsiyon harvesting kohlrabi for Leket Israel, a food rescue organization. From there we went to Dizengoff Square, a memorial that was created to remember those who lost their lives on October 7 and after. We also went to Hostage Square, purposefully not a permanent display, as we pray everyday all the remaining hostages will be released.

It is a strange feeling being back in the Jewish homeland. Life here continues, but yet everything feels different. There is a heaviness and sadness that I can feel in my heart.

Day 2
by Laura Wolf, Volunteer Mission co-chair

It is quite challenging to sum up my experience in Israel thus far.

I have cried, I have smiled, I have hugged, I have raked, I have harvested, I have listened, I have witnessed. There is so much more to do.

Seeing the site of the Nova Music Festival is nothing short of gut wrenching. Witnessing hostage square or the makeshift memorial at Dizengoff reminds you this is no longer the Israel I have visited frequently over the past 20 years, and is forever changed.

Yet it is the personal stories that will leave an indelible mark on my heart for the rest of my life.

It is the story of a resident from Kibbutz Kissufim in the Gaza Envelope who watched while terrorists surrounded his home, looked one square in the eye, and miraculously survived despite his injuries. Now all he wants is the ability to return to his home with his family who are currently displaced at a hotel.

It is the story of a 27 year old Cleveland lone soldier who lead his unit into Gaza, saw death first hand for the first time in his military career, and said he still jumps every time he hears a motorcycle. He was released from duty a week before his new daughter was born and now awaits when he will be called back.

It is watching a father light a memorial candle at the tree he planted for his son who died at the Nova music festival, who did not say a word, but watching his tears flow told a story there are no words for.

It is sharing dinner in Tel Aviv with a group of Jewish professionals from St. Petersburg, Russia who are working tireless for their Jewish community.

Each story unique, gut wrenching, heroic and stories that both need to be told and need to be heard.

Check back soon for more blog posts from the Volunteer Mission to Israel.

Learn More: Federation, Israel, Volunteer