National Volunteer Week: Local Volunteers in Israel Share Their Why


Israeli-Flag.jpgWhen Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the Greater Philadelphia community was stunned and horrified. Deep sorrow and helplessness invaded the community in the following weeks and months.

Despite this collective grief, there were, and continue to be, so many from the community who have dropped everything to go to Israel and help provide emergency aid during this crisis.

Through the Jewish Federation’s emergency solidarity missions, congregation initiatives and other independent volunteer opportunities, Greater Philadelphia has shown up for Israel to deliver aid packages, offer support to victims and soldiers, and care for evacuees.

In honor of the recent National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, we spoke to some of these generous community members, asking them why they volunteered and what it meant to them to be able to do so.

Andrew Yaffe

“After volunteering this past January, it is more clear than ever that our support is welcomed and needed. I am proud of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for being an organization that can mobilize so quickly and provide critical resources.”

— Andrew Yaffe, member of the Jewish Federation’s board of directors who volunteered with the Israel Defense Security Forum




Beth Razin

“What was amazing about volunteering in Israel was meeting people from all over the world. I picked clementines and cherry tomatoes with people from Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, London, Texas and New York. Every place I volunteered, there was an international mix of people — people were inspired to come to Israel from all over the world, just wanting to help.”

— Beth Razin, Jewish Federation’s associate director of Jewish life who volunteered with Leket Israel, Israel’s national food bank and a grantee of the Jewish Federation



Rabbi Shawn Simon Hazani

“As a dual American-Israeli citizen who has a child serving as a lone soldier in the IDF — and was myself a lone soldier many years ago — it was very difficult to be so far from Israel at a time of such great need. I knew I needed to go and lend a hand in any way I could. The experience was both devastating and uplifting at the same time. People from all walks of life were doing everything they could to help and to overcome all obstacles. I could not help but feel part of something a little bit miraculous.”

— Rabbi Shawn SimonHazani, Har Zion Temple’s director of lifelong learning who volunteered with Thank Israeli Soldiers to deliver donated supplies to IDF soldiers


Lisa Richman

“Volunteering is the least I can do for the country to which I am so committed. I always leave Israel planning my next trip there. If I didn’t love my work here, I would have stayed straight through. There is simply so much to be done.”

— Lisa Richman, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s education director who volunteered with a number of organizations to provide educational activities for children evacuees, deliver medical supplies to the IDF and make food for reservists


Rabbi Eric Yanoff

“I have been to Israel dozens of times, but this was unlike any other time in Israel. The sense of peoplehood and needing one another was palpable. We spoke of Jewish strength and feelings of vulnerability, on both sides of the ocean — as incredibly, even in this fraught time in Israel, Israelis asked us about how we were coping with the rise in antisemitism in America. That sense of areivut — interconnectedness – fostered a strong sense of responsibility and appreciation, one for another.”

— Rabbi Eric Yanoff of Adath Israel who volunteered on community missions visiting hospitals, working in agriculture and meeting with the families of victims and displaced persons


To learn more about how the Jewish Federation is supporting Israel during this crisis, visit

To find local volunteer opportunities, visit


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