23rd of July 2014 / Serving Oregon & Southwest Washington since 1959

VOLUNTEERS visit children during an AJWS study tour to India. At right, Portlanders Jay Moskowitz and Gloria Halper, help their Ugandan hosts during a January 2008 American Jewish World Service program.

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BOB BROWN

Volun-tourism combines service, sightseeing

By POLINA OLSEN

article created on: 2009-01-01T00:00:00

Repair the world while you travel with Jewish organizations

Retired, new graduate, ready for a change? Or, just looking for that adventure vacation? How about volun-tourism as it’s known within the trade; travel that combines service with sightseeing?

Jewish organizations offer opportunities throughout the world. Here’s a few ideas, the Jewish Review checked out:

Jewish Coalition for Service: This clearinghouse for Jewish voluntary service lists national and international opportunities for all ages and schedules. It includes foundations, institutions and organizations such as the Tanzania Construction Volunteer Project, Green Apprenticeship and Young Judaea. Visit www.jewishservice.org.

American Jewish World Service: Dedicated to Tikkum Olam, or repairing the world, AJWS provides grants to small non-government organizations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Volunteers, from teenagers to seniors, work on one-week to one-year assignments that promote health, education and social change.

One volunteer in Chiang Mai, Thailand, spent 10 months teaching English to Burmese women. Another in Ahmadabad, India, ran a campaign publicizing health and safety issues.

Last January, 10 members from Havurah Shalom of Portland spent two weeks building an educational facility in a Ugandan village.

“We made friends old and young, but, most important, we began to understand the poverty that accompanies subsistence living,” participant Nathan Cogan told the Jewish Review.

Not ready to get out your shovel and dig? How about an AJWS study tour?  According to Public Relations Director Kimberly Greiner, “Study Tours are not volun-tourism ; they’re the grown up sister.” Here, 12 to 14 people from around the United States see AJWS programs up close while living in five-star style.

During a recent India tour, they visited the Society for Rural, Urban and Tribal Initiative and the Integrated Rural Development and Training Institute. An upcoming South African tour will include meeting HIV/AIDs activists and a visit with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. AJWS arranges optional sightseeing before or after the program. Visit www.ajws.org  and select the gray volunteer button along the right sidebar.

Jewish Agency for Israel: Multiple opportunities listed on the Jewish Agency Web site offer insight into Israeli life. Livnot U’lehibanot targets unaffiliated Jews who want to explore their Jewish heritage while performing community service. Volunteers help with archaeological digs, clothing distribution, soup kitchens and other projects. Israel-Sarel offers two-week to four-month programs that combine cultural and educational activities with assignments in nursing homes and Israeli Defense Force warehouses. Visit www.jewishagency.org and enter volunteer in the top right text box.

Joint Distribution Committee Jewish Service Corps: As the overseas arm of the America Jewish federation system, the JDC has provided rescue, relief, renewal and support for Jewish communities around the globe for 94 years. Volunteers on one-year assignments serve in Austria, Belarus, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine. While most volunteers promote Jewish identity and community, some work with non-sectarian relief organizations.

JDC-JSC volunteers developed a Jewish education curriculum for Sunday schools in Bulgaria and started a Jewish family camp in Russia. Following the deadly 2004 tsunami, they helped rebuild playgrounds and schools in Sri Lanka. Visit www.jdc.org, select How You Can Help on the top gray menu, and then select Get Involved on the left red sidebar.

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