”To Be Appreicated!’ by Joan Hulkower – Comments by Clare Figler

Greetings from CAARI 2012!
The reccurent theme at the hospital has been ” You mean that you pay to come here to volunteer?” This year is the 5th year that I’ve come to Ichilov Hospitals Rehab dept. What has struck me the most and what keeps me from coming back year after year is how much they appreciate us.
What exactly is it that we do? The patients are there for rehab following orhtopedic surgery or other orthopedic problems. They are either in a wheelchair or use walkers. They come to a central dinning room for their meals.We don’t know who serves them breakfast when we are not there but when we are there we are it. The food comes up in bulk and our job is to dish it out, either scrambled eggs (chavita ) or hard boiled eggs, salad, olives ,hot cereal (usually too cold and needs to be rewarmed in micro) bread (women like it toasted) and a slice of cheese. Coffee or tea. Word was out that Clare and I have spoiled them, because we actually ask them what they want before we give them the tray. We communicate in sign language, some kitchen Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Spanish and even English. A smile, a thank you or even a kiss on the hand is the best. Miriam, a very heavy set Israeli -Arab woman, is the dishwasher and over the month she became our friend and tried to learn a few English words. After breakfast and the clean up we help the staff by changing the bed linen.The floor holds 34 patients and some days wemade as many as 9-12 beds each. Then of course is coffee break time.
Nitza the secretary a wonderful sweet young woman who has been there for 12 years bought us new mugs for our own use in anticipation of our arrival. In the staff coffee room they still have a picture on the bulletin board that I took 5 years ago with Nettie and Maish.
Today, our last day there and Nitza’s birthday was a celebration. Nitza baked a cake, and all the staff and doctors came in to thank us for coming and hoping we would come again and for a longer period of time. We exchanged emails. It’s good to be apreciated.
Joan (Port Washington, NY)

Comment by Clare Figler (Boston):
To all the recipients of this wonderful email from Joan, my hospital mentor and friend, I could not have said anything better than how Joan has put it. Any friend of Joan’s is a friend of mine. How lucky I am to be here (now my second year) in Israel. Never has so little honest work in the serving, kibbutzing, bed-making, setting up, getting this little or that little thing or need met given soooo much pleasure. Beyond being appreciated, I am re-born each day with pure enjoyment of this little community service.
Pay to volunteer? A pittance.
Clare Figler

The Canadian American Active Retirees in Israel, CAARI, offers active seniors a unique opportunity to experience Israel. The program is designed to explore the biblical landscapes, follow the footsteps of the early pioneers, and envision the future of our Homeland. The CAARI Program includes community service, toursa speakers forum and the camaraderie of the CAARI Family. The Program is designed for to feel, touch, hear and see Israel from the mountains to the desert, from sea to sea, and from ancient to modern.

Contact Us at: [email protected]
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Links: Jewish National Fund USA : https://www.jnf.org/