Judith Colp Rubin

Desperate to volunteer

Every day in the past week I’ve been consumed by one single thought: What can I do today to help Israel? I scroll my WhatsApp feeds and Facebook searching for volunteering gigs suitable for a 61-year-old woman living in Tel Aviv who doesn’t drive, has minimal practical skills and few connections.

I’ve donated all my old clothes for people in the South and all my non-perishable food items to be sent to army bases, distributed food packages in Soroka Hospital, picked kohlrabi in the fields of Rishon LeZion, and, of course, donated money and urged American Jews abroad to donate money. But it doesn’t feel anywhere near enough.

I see the faces of the murdered/kidnapped women and children and soldiers marching into battle, and I feel terrible drinking my morning cappuccino, reading a book or going to the gym. I feel terrible doing pretty much anything except trying in my small way to make sure these terrible events never happen again. So, I donate more money and again scour Facebook and my WhatsApp feeds for volunteer possibilities.

Someone posts that they are looking for baked goods to send to bases. That I can do! I excitedly prepare to buy the ingredients to churn out massive numbers of chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. But within a few hours, I’m told that they are inundated with items and don’t need mine. Same with helping to prepare food for the soldiers or sort through clothes.

“We have too many volunteers,” I’m told.

Too many volunteers. What a beautiful phrase that attests to the unity that has overtaken this country overnight. The stories of what people have done and are doing to help wow me. And make me feel wholly inadequate.

“You’re a writer,” one friend says. “Go write something.”

 I roll my eyes.  Do we really need more words?

And during those moments when I’m at a loss, I tell myself maybe it’s enough to just be here now living in Israel. That sounds nice. For a few minutes. Then I go back to looking for volunteer options.

About the Author
Former journalist -- The Washington Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Women's International Net -- among others. Co-author -- Arafat: A Political Biography (Oxford, 2001), Hating America (Oxford, 2003). Completed the Masters in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan.