Just do…….something


The Gals and I volunteering ....

Wends, Gina, Sue and I get into the spirit of volunteering....


As Olim Chadashim (new immigrants) we are faced with many challenges on a daily basis. One of the greatest, is how we try to integrate into a society that is extremely diverse, fast paced and at times, intimidating! We try to master the language and if you are anything like me, you are prone to many mistakes, have days when you can speak and others when brain and mouth just will not engage! Attempting to utter a coherent sentence in Hebrew, often results in an indulgent but perplexed facial expression from the people you are speaking to. I am still convinced I will be extradited back to South Africa for “crimes against the language”. Just navigating the various systems here feels like it may be easier to broker peace in the Middle East than understand how things work! When you are new to a country, sometimes just surviving the day is an achievement. And here, subtitles and United Nations culture handbooks are not included.


One of the greatest tips that I can give Olim, especially those that are not of the age when they can serve in the Army, is get involved with some kind of volunteer organisation. Those of us who do not serve for whatever reason, really miss out on an important facet of Israeli life. It is not just about serving the country but also about getting to understand the culture. I strongly advocate joining a volunteer organisation. You will be wonderfully surprised at how quickly this becomes an unexpected support system and helps with the integration process. You also get to make new friends which in a new country can be quite difficult.  For me, the organisation of choice is WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation). I was a member in South Africa and have been afforded many opportunities through the organisation and have proudly continued this in Israel. From this, I am privileged to include some superb women as my friends, role models and I have at least three Israeli mommy’s or “shalosh ima’ot Israeli’ot, clucking around me like mother hens, dispensing with much needed hugs, concerned phone calls and advice. Being Jewish, naturally there is no shortage of food! Mama Jay, Tova and Tricia this one is for you!


So where am I going with all of this? The point I am trying to make is that when you are new (or relatively new like me) you look for ways to integrate and hopefully give back to the country.  Immigration to Israel does have its perks and the country is unique in that it was established to welcome and absorb Jewish immigrants from all over the world. The systems are in place to make your landing a little softer. For me, it is important that I give back to the country that has given me so much, not just as an Olah, but also as a person. A wise person once said that you make a living by what you earn but you make a life by what you give. There are so many opportunities in Israel to get involved in helping and giving back. Whether you want to help new Olim , or like me, volunteer for WIZO whose credo is working for an improved Israeli society and women’s rights. Do something special for the men and women in defense of the country or Holocaust survivors. If going green turns you on, or you want to work with animals, go on, just do something!! There is no shortage of way to get involved and doing. You will be amazed at not how much pleasure you get from giving but your growth as a person and realizing things about yourself that you never knew is astounding.


Come on, just do…….something!


4 thoughts on “Just do…….something

  1. I found that one of the main problems in getting “absorbed” is that along with the language barrier comes a natural tendency to seek out people that tend to speak your native tongue. Although this has many advantages at first, it severely limits one’s opportunity to get to know the real Israel. Sure, there are many Israelis who know some English and many who are wise enough not to correct your new immigrant grammatical butchery of Hebrew(although many sabras do that well enough themselves), the way to get to know the people and the way of the land is to get down and dirty and absolutely, as Rolene writes, volunteer. Get involved with an organization, a museum, a hospital gift shop. something where you will have to speak Hebrew, learn the way things are done and yes, it will be frustrating, annoying, you will get mad as hell, you will curse(hopefully in Hebrew) and wonder why the heck you came here in the first place. But all that aside, just step out your doorway, look up at that beautiful blue and white flag with the Magen David flying high and proud in the breeze, take a deep breath and remember how blessed you are to be here.


  2. You are a star. I want to shout your shout from the roof tops. Your message is so important, so apt. I agree with you. I, too, feel blessed and thanks Israel for bringing me smiles, and WIZO for giving me wings and I know that all those with WIZO and Israel in their hearts will always adore you and never, ever see you as anything but a complete asset and lovely. lovely woman.

    Your ‘mummys’ will never stop clucking around their flame-haired chick!


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