Bnei Akiva Club Gives Back on International Good Deeds Day
On April 2, Yeshiva University’s Bnei Akiva club participated in Good Deeds Day, an international day of volunteering. The group spent the day volunteering and giving back to the Murray Hill community.
This is the second year that the Bnei Akiva club has joined in on Good Deeds Day. This year 30 students from both Stern College and Yeshiva College volunteered for the organization DOROT, whose mission statement explains that “DOROT alleviates social isolation among the elderly and provides services to help them live independently as valued members of the community.”
The students delivered Passover food packages and visited the homebound elderly of the Murray Hill area. The group met at the Central Synagogue on the Upper East Side for an orientation run by the DOROT staff. They watched a video and then the volunteers split into groups of two’s and three’s and were assigned to a senior to visit. The volunteers then picked up their packages and were on their way.
Many of the students came back from the event feeling happy and fulfilled with the day’s work. “We went to visit an old lady in her home and before we went in we were slightly nervous it would be awkward,” said Ilana Leggiere, a junior at Stern College. “But when we got there she was the most outgoing and interesting woman we had ever met. We spoke about family and politics and it was amazing how much we had in common,” she continued.
The students were able to see the direct effect they were having on their beneficiaries. “Good Deeds Day was a great experience,” said Eli Goldberg, a senior at Yeshiva College. “I brought food for Pesach to a beautiful elderly man and spent some time talking to him. He told me he loves Pesach and he was super happy that we brought him food, because he would not have been able to do it himself. And when we asked for a picture he even suggested we take a selfie, it was a great moment,” he said.
Not all students, however, were so successful. Some seniors were not expecting them or did not want a visit. “I wasn't sure what to expect from our visit to our senior,” said Shira Krinsky, a junior at Stern College. “And I was a little bit nervous but also excited to talk to someone who could probably teach me a lot. When we showed up, however, she took the package from us but did not invite us in as she only had a small apartment. I'm glad we still got to deliver a package for Pesach to her so I hope she appreciated that,” she continued.
Ilana Sherizen, one of the coordinators of the event said, “the event was fantastic. The event had a great turnout, the volunteers were amazing, and tons of chesed was given. Not only were the participants able to take part in the global movement of Good Deeds Day and be a part of something much greater, we were able to make an impact within our own community. Our volunteers spent time interacting, bringing joy, and learning from amazing Jewish senior citizens that have seen and experienced so much throughout their lives.”
Good Deeds Day was started in 2007 by Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison. Its goal is to bring people together from around the world to volunteer and give back to their community.
Bnei Akiva is a worldwide organization that teaches leadership, Zionism, and the idea of Torah V’Avodah (Torah and labor). “Bnei Akiva of the US & Canada provides high quality religious Zionist education and programs for North American Jewish youth along with their families and communities. Basing ourselves on the principles of Torah v’Avodah, we encourage aliyah, love of the Jewish people, and love of Israel,” says the mission statement on Bnei Akiva US and Canada’s website.
The Bnei Akiva club looks to emulate that mission in every event that they organize. “Bnei Akiva focuses on fostering a love of Torah, Israel and the Jewish people, and included in that framework is the responsibility to do chessed,” said Maia Wiesenfeld, president of the Bnei Akiva club at YU. “We thought that Good Deeds Day, which was started in Israel and has now expanded to become a global movement, would be a great opportunity to help those in need. It was meaningful to see the difference we made even in just a few hours!”
Photo credit: bneiakiva.org