This week the MaraTani – Chain of Giving, an award-winning voluntary tutoring project, marks its 10th year with a special event on June 28 at 4:30 p.m. at the Museum of Natural History in the German Colony.The MaraTani, the flagship volunteer project of the Ginot Ha’ir Community Council, is a community-based tutoring program for the high school matriculation exam (bagrut). It has provided thousands of hours of free lessons in math, English, Hebrew language, civics and history to more than 1,000 Jerusalem teens.While the lessons are free, students are expected to “pay” for their tutoring by volunteering in the community, thus creating a chain of giving. Today, some 80 percent of the youth volunteering through Ginot Ha’ir originated in the MaraTani.With an annual budget of under NIS 80,000, the MaraTani is built upon an all-volunteer staff of tutors (high school and university teachers, school principals and university students) and one half-time paid coordinator.In 2005, the MaraTani was awarded the Jerusalem Mayor’s Award for Volunteer Projects.The MaraTani was established in the memory of Netanel (Tani) Goodman, who died in an accident in 2002 at age 17.“After Tani’s death, we learned from his friends that Tani did not study for exams but taught the material to others in order to learn it himself,” relates Jerry Goodman, Tani’s father. “The family, together with the International Cultural and Community Center [the forerunner of Ginot Ha’ir)], decided to continue Tani’s legacy of giving to and teaching others.” The MaraTani is open to any Jerusalem high school student studying for matriculation exams, irrespective of socioeconomic standing or neighborhood of residence. The MaraTani tries to accommodate special needs teens as well.A three-year grant of seed money from the Jewish Agency helped to launch the project. Today, it is supported by the Goodman and Posnick families, Ginot Ha’ir, the Tani Fund and friends.“The MaraTani shows that a program with very little money can successfully provide education and the idea of volunteering and community activism. It can create a circle of giving that results in better education and community awareness,” says Goodman.“We support the MaraTani because it is a marvelous community project,” says Shaike El-Ami, executive director of Ginot Ha’ir.“You have a family that turned their personal grief into a wonderful initiative that answers a real need. The project goes beyond preparation for the matriculation. It develops the spirit of community service.”When it first started, the MaraTani provided marathon study sessions (hence the name) for students in the days preceding the matriculation exams. In its first year, more than 400 students came for tutoring and an equal number of teachers volunteered their time.“Those who came did much better on their exams than theirpeers who did not attend our sessions,” explains Maggie Goodman, Tani’s mother, who is an English teacher and in charge of the MaraTani English tutoring sessions. “We knew then that this was a needed and immensely appreciated service.”After three years, it was decided to provide sessions throughout the school year. The program now has two 10-week sessions – one in the winter and one in the spring - as well as the marathon matriculation preparation. The idea for the chain of giving came from Tani’s scout group, Shevet Masuot. The scouts asked their members taking part in the MaraTani to volunteer helping neighborhood kids with their homework.Those who attend tutoring sessions during the year volunteer through Ginot Ha’ir projects dealing with ecology, social issues and neighborhood renovations. Those attending the matriculation sessions help organize an annual event.During the 2010-11 year, there were 75 students studying on a weekly basis. The spring marathon sessions drew some 150 teens.“We are not a school but rather a community,” explains Maggie Goodman. “We teach in small informal groups in a relaxed atmosphere. Our teachers are star quality, dedicated and willing to provide extra lessons when students need them.This is what attracts the kids. The students also form social ties. We work with the students’ strengths and provide tools for independent learning. This is good not only for the matriculation but also for life.”The MaraTani chain of giving has led to former students giving back to the project years after finishing. Hodaya Zaken, now 21 and a student at Lifschitz College, attended the MaraTani from 10th to 12th grades. She has just finished a documentary on the project as part of her film studies, which will be screened at the June 28 event.“English was very difficult for me,” she recalls. “My teacher told me about the MaraTani. From the minute I started, it felt like family. Because of the MaraTani, I was able to do the fourpoint matriculation and finish with an 83. The personal attention and the feeling of excitement as I succeeded and progressed both on my part and that of my teacher made the difference.Without the MaraTani, I probably would have had to settle for a three-point matriculation. That’s why I made the documentary.”This year’s event organized by MaraTani students is a funfair for the children and volunteers of the Big Brother/Big Sister program in Jerusalem – a program for children from single-parent families.“The MaraTani students decide what kinds of activities to have and then they run them,” says Maggie Goodman. “This year we will have a giant inflatable jumper, mask making, fortune telling, face painting, bowling, sports, a petting zoo and more. MaraTani students and grads are welcome to attend and help out in the organization and running of the day,” she says.