fetch (slurp) wrote in ontd_political,

'Pay it forward' program takes Israel by storm

Young women doing national service grant wishes to groups who in turn volunteer for community

The young women, who belong to the Bat Ami Organization, have hired a bus to take them all over Israel as part of the program.

Mazal Sahala, a resident of Netanya, said she and her friends from the community's leadership program wanted to take a sightseeing flight over Israel. "We knew we didn't have the means to make this come true by ourselves," she said.

The group asked for the flight in exchange for renovating an old synagogue in their neighborhood. "We came smiling and excited and began to whitewash the walls," said Leah Balai, also of the group. "For many hours we cleaned, painted, and repaired things, and it's not easy to miss the change."

Sahala said they never would have had the motivation for the project had it not been for Bat Ami. "But the work is far from over," Sahala said. "There is still a lot more to do in the coming months, like redoing the floors and finding proper benches for prayer."

Further south, in Ofakim, Bat Ami granted the wish of a group of special needs children and held a bat mitzvah for one of them, a girl suffering from mild retardation. All involved – including the photographer, hall managers, and hair stylist – volunteered their time. In exchange, the children agreed to prepare gift baskets for children at Soroka Hospital's Oncology ward.

In addition, senior citizens in Jerusalem received a day of spa and cosmetic treatments in exchange for preparing hot meals for the city's needy population.

CEO of Bat Ami, Yedaiah Levin, said the project had been a success. "Many additional circles of volunteers were formed and other volunteer organizations became involved in the project. I hope this becomes a tradition," he said.

Personally I did national service for two years, and loved it. I would have done another if I could
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