Returning Volunteer, New Experiences

Posted on January 8, 2020

Christmas and Chanukah at Hebrew University Of Jerusalem

After my first Skilled Volunteer experience in 2016, I said that my days as a “regular” tourist in Israel were over. Today I believe that even more than I did then. I can’t imagine spending my annual winter vacation in Israel just as a consumer. By the same token, I can’t imagine not having opportunities for new adventures. And that’s what I love about being a Skilled Volunteer. While I am able to make a small mark on, to contribute in some slight way to, and to use a little of my “skill” for the betterment of Israeli society, I don’t punch a clock and so am free to spend time exploring and re-exploring my second home.

 

Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive

I have been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful organizations for the past three years. In fact, I was thrilled to be able to return for a second year to a very worthwhile organization which, unfortunately, had to close its doors recently. However, Terry Hendin, my long-time friend and mentor as a volunteer knows me very well and found an absolutely amazing placement for me this year. I am volunteering at the Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archives located on the Mount Scopuscampus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Har Hatsofim). I spend 5 to 6 hours three to four days a week helping to catalogue their tens of thousands of films. In addition to the entertainment and educational value of this experience, I have had to dust off my rusty French and concentrate on my ever-growing Hebrew vocabulary in order to be able to write summaries of the films.

En Route to Work

Believe it or not, my commute – 45 minutes on the #34 bus in the morning and afternoon – is something else I enjoy. I notice something new each day as the bus winds its way through a variety of neighborhoods – most days under very blue and clear skies. And the commuters can be interesting to observe and listen to as well.

View From Mount Scopus

Once I’m off the bus, I’m in a very high point in Jerusalem. On a clear day, you can see the Dead Sea from Mount Scopus. The campus has changed tremendously since the first time I was there as a college junior. I won’t tell you the year but it was a LONG time ago. The amphitheater was there although the view from it was far more barren. I have fond memories of that magnificent structure.

But I think my favorite part of this assignment is the staff. Just a director, a librarian, and a technician run the whole show. These are three of the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet. From the moment I started, I felt like part of the family and that feeling has grown each day. I will miss them.

Although I still have about a week left before I head back to the cold and snow and ice that will greet me in Chicago, I am already counting the days until I can return for my fifth experience as a Skilled Volunteer for Israel.