Taking part in GIFT.
(photo credit: COURTESY GIFT ISRAEL)
Family vacations are all about giving to your kids.
Parents plan amazing activities, take the kids out to eat and even spoil them with souvenirs. A vacation in Israel adds another dimension to the average family trip. Take this special opportunity to teach your kids a lesson about how important it is to give back to the community at the same time. Finding a fun activity that involves volunteering or supporting a special cause is easy in Jerusalem.
Through my role at Fun In Jerusalem, I have been blessed with meeting some very special people who spend their careers involved in charities and social causes. Here are some of my favorite places that can be enjoyed by locals and tourists throughout the year and will give your family a hands-on experience in the art of giving.
Ohr Meir & Bracha – Terror Victims Support Center One of our most requested activities is food packing at Ohr Meir & Bracha. The organization, based in the Arzei Habira neighborhood, packs Shabbat food for families who have been victims of terrorism. Volunteers are invited to come and help pack the food.
When you arrive you will see large crates of vegetables, fruit, halla and other necessities. Each person is given a specific food to pack into the signature blue baskets.
The atmosphere is fantastic as you see adults and kids of all ages packing up food baskets, knowing they will help needy families. Look out for Liora, the founder of Ohr Meir & Bracha, and hear the story of the founding of this incredible charity. The packing takes place every Thursday, with special packing days before the holidays.
3/1 Yakim Street, (02) 582-4630, office@terror-victims.
org.il, www.terror-victims.org.il Susan’s House – empowering teens at risk Do your kids enjoy arts and crafts? Looking for something that can entertain a mix of ages? Want to spend a fun morning or afternoon in an art workshop specializing in glass jewelry, 3D wood puzzles and ceramics or watch the art of glassblowing? Susan’s House is a unique nonprofit organization in Talpiot, empowering at-risk teens with the skills to find their place in society. Teens are given the opportunity to learn artistic techniques to produce beautiful merchandise, be exposed to the business aspects of selling the merchandise and running the gift shop, and they even take responsibility for cooking the group lunch on rotation.
Run by Avital Goel, the organization opens its doors to visitors, kids and adults, to experience art workshops led by the teens. Goel has devoted his life to helping teens find their potential and learn skills to get them out of their troubled lives to become productive members of the community.
Through these fun and instructive workshops Avital has brought the community into Susan’s House. Families are invited to come in for an hour session and kids are given a chance to choose which art activity they want to do. At the end of the workshop you can take a walk through the factory store, where you will find unique gifts and souvenirs at amazing prices.
As one of our Fun In Jerusalem readers told us, “What a fantastic afternoon we had at Susan’s House…. We learned different artistic techniques and then learned about the amazing place that teaches them…. It felt great to give the kids a fun day at an establishment that is essential to the community. We will be back!” 19 Yad Harutzim Street, third floor; (02) 672-5069; avital@ kys.org.il, susanshouse.org.il GIFT camp and GIFT bar/bat mitzva programs Seeing the need to give kids access to charitable activities, Hannah Cohn, a local Katamon mom, started the GIFT camp. GIFT began as an English charity looking to inspire and educate people to give charity and to give their time to local causes. The concept was brought to Israel this past year.
This summer GIFT Israel ran a seven-day camp called Everyday GIFT Heroes, where the campers visited a different charity or organization each day. Campers heard about the wonderful work that the organizations do and then volunteered at the charity, which gave the kids a different perspective on Fun in Jerusalem. The camp included arts and craft activities, each of which was donated to a different organization or to the underprivileged.
Campers came from all over Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
During the year GIFT Israel creates charity programming for schools, local children’s youth groups and private bar/bat mitzva groups, providing them with special activities and connecting them to local charities.
Contact GIFT if you are a tourist who is looking for a fun volunteer activity to add to your itinerary, or if you are a local and would like to incorporate GIFT into your next simha or school curriculum.
email@example.com, www.jgift.org Haboydem – secondhand clothing store During the summer I stopped in at Haboydem, the social secondhand clothing store in Talpiot run by Guy and Eris Avihod. It’s a dynamic place, set up to help people with disabilities gain work skills and get back into community life.
I was so surprised to see the great clothing available at the store. The children and teen sections of the store have some special clothes to offer, including designer brands and clothes that are in very good condition. It inspired me to go home and sort through my kids’ closets with them and create a donation pile together.
Haboydem encourages families to bring in their lightly used clothing in good condition, while at the same time encouraging families to come and shop. This year Haboydem hosted a special bat mitzva program in conjunction with Matan. Girls and their mothers were invited into the store to help sort out the clothes.
There are three great ways to get your kids involved in the Haboydem experience: donate clothes with them, purchase secondhand clothes or ask about volunteering to sort the clothes.
15 Tzeret Street, (02) 579-8567 Next time you are looking for a fun and meaningful activity in Jerusalem, make sure to check out the Fun In Jerusalem list of volunteer activities: www.funinjerusalem.com/volunteer- activities/ The writer is the founder and FUN Expert at Fun In Jerusalem (www.funinjerusalem.com). She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and three kids. firstname.lastname@example.org. •