Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Can a Holocaust Survivor Count on You?

As you may have guessed from my long absences, things are quite busy with me. My job hunting has finally stopped, as I now plan to attend seminary for a year, starting this fall. Another thing keeping me busy is helping Holocaust Survivors! I have been working with an organization called iVolunteer NY, and I volunteered to create and run a fundraiser for our work. I hope you'll take the time to read about our campaign: Providing Holocaust Survivors with a Friend to Count On.
(Monetary donations are always welcomed, but if you're not in the position to do that, there are many other ways you can support our work. First and foremost, help us get the word out about this campaign! Help us tweet it, Facebook it, Tumblr it, and email it!) 

Have you thought about our Survivors lately?

Summer is a difficult time for Holocaust Survivors. Higher temperatures keep many senior citizens from leaving their homes for socializing or errands. A regular visitor, a friend to count on, can be a life-saver for those vulnerable to heat-related illnesses.

Unfortunately, 88 percent of the Survivors we serve do not have children. When Survivors lack family, iVolunteer fills that void. One of our 800 volunteers may be their only regular visitor. Through these one-on-one visits, we are able to cater to the special needs of each Survivor.

“John has been a true gem and source of solace an inspiration to me.
He takes me on walks and escorts me to the bank when he comes over.
I wouldn’t leave the house if not for his encouragement and assistance.”
- Issac K., Survivor 
This month, iVolunteer celebrated our 12,000th home visit! Through these weekly visits, our volunteers build rewarding and enduring friendships with Survivors. They are given the privilege of hearing extraordinary stories, and inter-generational bonds inevitably form to ensure the experience of the Holocaust will not be forgotten. 

We always say that we could write a book filled with the many acts of selfless kindness our volunteers have done for the Survivors they visit. No challenge is too daunting when it comes to serving a precious part of our community, so we hope to raise $10,000 over the next 23 days to continue our home visits, social programs, and home delivery programs. With your generous support today, we will expand our direct assistance program to provide individual support for Survivors, such as air conditioners, small home repairs, wigs, private car fares for doctor visits, and other one-time financial needs.

In the New York summer heat, a broken air conditioner is a health hazard, and the repair is a small price to pay for a Survivor.

Don’t delay! Click Providing Holocaust Survivors with a Friend to Count On and make a donation to increase Survivors’ independence and dignity this summer!

Our success is only possible because of the donations of time and money from supporters like you. Join me today in supporting the emotional and physical needs of Survivors. iVolunteer NY is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Your donation of $18, $50, $100, or more will make an immediate difference in the life of a Survivor:
  • $18 delivers 2 holiday packages to a Survivor 
  • $100 covers the cost of training 4 new volunteers 
  • $500 purchases a laptop computer or 2 air conditioners 
  • $1800 covers the cost of a proper Jewish burial for a Survivor who cannot afford one 
If you would rather make a gift over time (for example, $25 per month) instead of a one-time gift today, please contact us and we will be glad to arrange that! You can reach us at or (646) 461-7748.

Thank you for supporting our work to improve the lives of Survivors!

P.S. - In return for your generosity, different “perks” are available for your donation, including an autographed book by a Survivor, tickets to our 3rd Annual Gala this winter, and a Survivor-led tour of the Met for you and four friends!

iVolunteer NY is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Can Yirat Shamayim Make You Neurotic?

This is an honest question. Can the "fear/awe of heaven" make you act in a neurotic way? My gut says yes, when we internalize certain mitzvot in a OCD fashion. 

Not sure what this question even means? Let me give you an example from my own life.

I've realized that I don't use hot water during the week. It doesn't even occur to me to turn on the hot water tap. Not on yontif, and not on any day ending in Y. (Minus the two obvious uses: washing the dishes and taking a shower.)

I'd been living this way for at least two years before I really realized what I was doing. And the reason came immediately: I don't use hot water because I'm afraid I'll automatically turn it on during Shabbat. I know that I am a creature of habit and that I operate on autopilot for many common actions during the day. Flipping the bathroom light switch on Shabbat while still half-asleep is still a serious concern for me, but you can't NOT turn on the bathroom light all week. But hot water? You can do almost everything without it. So my brain decided to tackle this problem independent of my conscious mind.

I suppose there's no harm in it?