Posted on June 25, 2015 by Eliezah Hoffman
While at Pardes, the fellows and Rav Meesh continually stressed how volunteering was the pinnacle of our studies; that by volunteering and giving back to our community, we were practicing the Torah we were engaging in all week long. This idea stuck with me as I created and executed my volunteering projects over the course of the year.
Most of the projects that Pardes had arranged for us, while very interesting and fulfilling, did not meet my needs in terms of volunteering. I was looking for something that I could do on my own time, that allowed me to impact people, and that gave me genuine professional experience in the Jewish world to prepare me for my future career path. So, I created my own projects.
It was extremely important for me to do something that I was passionate about. Otherwise, why would I do it? I was not interested in just checking off a box on a list. Because I found what I was working on to be interesting, when it came time to engage others, I had a much easier time with it.
So, what did I do, exactly? During two different fundraising events, I raised almost 5,000 shekels amongst the Pardes community for people that needed it most. I learned about planning an event, delegating, advocating for myself and my needs, and persuading other people to support a worthy cause. And, I provided Pardes students and staff an entertaining and easy way to give tzedakah,
In the end, I feel that I made the right choice to put in the extra effort to develop my own volunteer projects. I made a fool of myself playing the part of auctioneer at the Purim live auction, but I was able to help Pardes students seeking financial aid and victims of sex trafficking. I put in hours of effort into the trivia night, but the payoff (pun intended) was that the roots of the Turkish Jewish community were further strengthened with a donation from Pardes when some of our students visited. I only wish I could have stayed at Pardes for another year so that I could continue to have the experience again!