Eight Pittsburghers returned this week from a Mission to Israel coordinated by the Jewish Federation Volunteer Center.
The weeklong mission revolved around volunteering in Karmiel and the Misgav region, Pittsburgh’s sister communities in the Partnership2Gether project (P2G). Pittsburgh is in its 18th year of collaboration with Karmiel/Misgav in a wide range of educational, cultural and economic development initiatives, which benefit all three communities.
The Volunteer Center, which was launched last year to offer a network of meaningful opportunities to volunteers and the people and organizations that need them, worked with P2G to create an itinerary that would engage mission participants in several volunteer opportunities.
“Our objective was, not just to enable Pittsburghers to visit our beautiful region in Israel,” Ronna Harris Askin, mission group leader, said in a prepared statement. “We aimed to give participants the insights and understanding you can get only from being welcomed into the homes of the Israelis and immersing yourself in the places that make up the community.”
Pittsburgh volunteers worked at several sites during the mission, undertaking the following tasks.
• Nitzanim (afternoon club for children with special needs): “making over” an after-school facility by planting bushes and flowers, painting and assembling outdoor furniture.
• Karmiel Agricultural Farm: volunteering with school-age children as they learned about planting and growing vegetables.
• AKIM (employment center for adults with special needs): working with clients in sheltered workshops and at a crafts center.
• Pitchon Lev (helping disadvantaged families): preparing food baskets and items of clothing, house wares, toys, books, and more for distribution.
• Mishol (housing clusters in low-income neighborhoods): working on community gardens and beautification projects.
In addition, the Pittsburgh volunteers toured Karmiel and the Misgav region with Israeli leaders in the P2G program; visited the nearby town of Sfed, an artist colony and the home of mysticism in Israel; toured Kishorit, a working community for adults with disabilities; participated in a Lag B’Omer event with Israeli families and enjoyed home hospitality.
The P2G program offers many options for members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community to connect with Israelis and our sister cities — from leadership development for local and Israeli teens, to collaborative Jewish learning with Israelis via teleconference, to joining in local programming for visiting Israeli delegations.
The Jewish Federation Volunteer Center provides volunteer options for individuals, families and groups, including one-time and ongoing volunteer opportunities. Contact Coordinator Jenny Jones at 412-992-5209 or visit the
Volunteer Center website at jfedvolunteer.org for information.