It is of primary importance to the Midrasha that students spend their year not only receiving, but learning the true meaning and value of chessed as they give to the community-at-large. One afternoon a week, Midrasha students volunteer in programs throughout the Jerusalem area. Volunteering options are varied, spanning from helping children with special needs, to medical clowning or working with the elderly and infirm. Time and consideration are dedicated to creating the best "shidduch" between students and placements, with periodic evaluation of both student and volunteer organization satisfaction. Where possible, placements are "tailor-made" according to student interests. To cite a few examples, one student with a particular interest in environmental issues was able to assist the JNF with reforestation issues. Another helped sift through the rubble from the ruins of Har HaBayit, and was delighted to help in the discovery of pottery shards that contributed to archaeological work in the area.
Students see great value in being able to give to the community with no expectation of receiving in return, and are inspired to continue volunteering after leaving the program. Many students develop bonds with volunteer organizations or recipients that go well beyond the framework of the Midrasha, and remain in contact, creating extended relationships.
Past volunteer placements have included:
- working with mentally and physically challenged children and youth at the Aleh residential facility and Shalva afternoon respite program
- food packaging for Yad Eliezer, a food-help organization that brings packages to over 100,000 families a week
- visiting the elderly - with referrals from the AACI (Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel) girls bring cheer to isolated elderly who are "often skipped over" by social service agencies
- medical clowning - after attending a course giving by the Kedma organization, students visit hospital pediatric and oncology wards, bringing smiles to patients and parents alike
- providing respite for needy families with many children
- assisting families with small children in the Old City of Jerusalem
- serving as Big Sisters through the Jerusalem Big Brother/Sister program with girls from underprivileged backgrounds including Ethiopian youth
- participating in swimming therapy with mentally challenged girls
- preparing food and helping arrange events for the needy, including wedding celebrations, britot, bridal showers, sheva brachot through Faigie Levine, a well-known Jerusalem chessed woman, and her organization, HaEzra
Students' response to volunteering is extremely positive, as is feedback from the organizations with whom our students volunteer.