I may make some people feel uncomfortable with this column, but I need to vent, so here goes. It’s just that I have reached a critical frustration point and I would like to invite those that use social media to have a dialogue. Perhaps it will even provide me with some therapeutic relief or advice.
Recently (June 29 – An Israeli in the Galut – Why I Must Volunteer for Israel) I wrote about the Emergency Volunteers Project (www.evp.org.il) and why I felt compelled to sign up myself, as well as spread the word. Since that time, I have posted on my Facebook page, emailed and continued to talk it up to anyone that would listen. The most amazing thing has happened…
While I love that my friends have been liking, emailing, posting comments about my family’s recent vacation travels and the beautiful scenic pictures, very few people have addressed the calls that I have posted for Israel’s need for actual, on-the-ground volunteers. Doesn’t that deserve boatloads of “likes” or comments?
And we are not talking about serving on the front-line. When I undergo training at the end of October, yes, I will (finally) learn some basic emergency preparedness skills. Which by the way, will allow me to also be FEMA certified so that the next time a hurricane hits South Florida, I can also help. But for the most part I will be trained and assigned to take on basic responsibilities, should I be deployed. Giving out water, helping in bomb shelters, wherever there is a gap in much needed manpower because the other people are off on the front line, I will be trained and ready to fill that need.
I truly appreciate what Jewish federations and other organizations do for Israel. Their support and fund-raising are vital for helping Israel in her time of need. The fact that I know many people who will stop what they are doing to go to pro-Israel rallies is inspiring and heartwarming. They all love Israel and want to show their dedication.
But where is the love to actually do something concrete?? Is it a well-meaning, but neutral American-Jewish mindset that has caused my pleas for volunteers to go relatively unanswered?
When I first heard about EVP, I knew immediately that the personal frustration I feel when Israel is in crisis could be solved. That I didn’t have to feel useless living so far away from my adopted homeland. I could help in a meaningful, needed way. I just assumed that the majority of folks living in my community would also feel the same way.
But the relative quiet has been unsettling.
Yes, we are slowly registering people for the first south Florida EVP training scheduled to take place the end of October and I hope that we will make our goal of 100 registrants. But I really had thought that given all the pro-Israel rhetoric in my community, that we would be flooded with interested participants.
So what is it? Time? I don’t have a lot of free time, but I will make time. And I know of a lot of other people (mostly women) who don’t work full time like I do, so why can’t they make a day and a half commitment to get trained with EVP and stand ready to help Israel?
Money? I don’t have the money to easily lay out for a ticket to head to Israel on a moment’s notice (FYI, the EVP training course costs $140 to cover the costs of bringing personnel over from Israel. If a deployment notice comes, I would need to raise money to cover the cost of my flight. Everything else, lodging, food, transportation will be covered once I land in Israel). If I can take on this financial challenge then I dare say many others in my community can do it too…many probably more easily then I will be able to handle.
So, back to my initial question…why? And if there is an answer, then the next question is, how do we change the mindset, get American Jewry more fired up to not just “talk”…but also “do?”
I don’t like feeling angry and frustrated. This isn’t the time for that. This is a time to unite together and help. So, social media devotees…you are on. Thoughts? Suggestions? Please help.