Giving and receiving: The circle of life

It’s a simple law of the universe: for every act of giving, there’s receiving on the other end.

But what I’ve learned as the Executive Director of Friends of Yad Sarah, representing Israel’s largest volunteer-led social support organization, is that the circle of life turns givers into receivers.

For this year’s milestone of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel’s independence, the stories of the young nation’s builders are especially poignant for me. These are hundreds of thousands of individuals who devoted their lives to shaping and strengthening their homeland: soldiers, farmers, rabbis, nurses, teachers, engineers, and various other types of professionals. They built Israel and transformed the country into a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, a mere seven decades into the modern state’s existence. They were the quintessential givers.

But the script was turned on its head. These givers suddenly needed to be receivers.

Zeev, a pilot and logistics expert, put his problem-solving prowess to work for Israel’s military in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and 1982 First Lebanon War. But in 2012, he suffered a stroke that severely limited his physical abilities. He now needs the logistics—the detailed organization and implementation of complex operations—he once provided to others. At a Yad Sarah branch, he benefits from speech therapy, lectures, counseling, a hot meal, and socialization.

Melany, an electrical engineer and educator, helped train an entire generation of Israeli high-tech workers just when the global IT industry was poised for exponential growth. But she’s been wheelchair-bound for the past 12 years due to multiple sclerosis. Her career fulfilled her because it allowed her to give deeply and personally to so many students, to shape their lives. Now at Yad Sarah, where she participates in drawing classes and works with a physiotherapist, she feels the same sense of emotional security—that someone is always there for her.

In my work, I meet countless other givers-turned-receivers like Zeev and Melany. What inspires me is how Yad Sarah enables Israeli society to give back to its greatest givers. I’m proud to represent the only organization in Israel whose primary mission is to care for the nation’s caretakers—to build up Israel’s builders and enable them to live as independently as possible, engaged with family and community. We provide social services to 420,000 people annually – Israelis, Arabs, Jews, Christians, Druze – including 320,000 medical equipment loans and 55,000 visits to homebound individuals. I’m humbled by the energetic and persistent giving of our 6,000 volunteers, who staff 100+ branches.

And life will come full circle again. Yad Sarah’s volunteers are today’s givers. Inevitably, some of them will be tomorrow’s receivers, and we’ll have a new generation of givers ready and eager to assist them.

On this Giving Tuesday, let’s appreciate our capacity to be givers. Because we never know when we might need to be receivers.

-Adele Goldberg, Executive Director – Friends of Yad Sarah

About the Author
Adele Goldberg is the Executive Director of Friends of Yad Sarah, which raises much-needed funds to support the work of the Yad Sarah organization and its dedicated corps of volunteers in Israel.