We began our day with tefillah in the Sephardi Bet Knesset in the kibbutz. J.Z., Zach, and Sophia led our service. Elana, Hana, Rafi and Alana had the opportunity to read from the Sefer Torah that was “standing” on the bima. We feel lucky to have these opportunities.
As we know, it is a mitzvah to give Tzedakah, or charity. Today, we expressed that knowledge by volunteering at a place called Leket Nahalal. This is a non-profit organization that picks crops for families in need. For example, when farmers don’t want or need a crop anymore, they send workers and volunteers there to pick it and give to the hungry, instead of wasting all of it. They even have their own fields on land donated to this cause. This is where we went to help pick as many beets as possible and met up with Karen and Assaf, our former emissaries. Since everybody likes a little competition, the boys and girls decided to see who could pick more in the time we were there. It was so fun competing and knowing that this is going to people who really need it! Doing this good deed felt so amazing. We found out at the end that the girls did indeed win, but that wasn’t the most important part. The most important part, was that all of us together collected 600 kilos, which feeds 200 families! Everyone was so shocked that in such short time, we could make such a difference in people’s lives.
After picking the beets, we took a short bus ride to the supermarket to buy food for our picnic with our pen pals. Each group had a chaperone and a list of things to buy. Once we chose everything and paid, we headed over to Sachne, a beautiful lagoon. Once we got there and unloaded our groceries, we met our pen pals and Amit, our emissary from last year. At first it was awkward for some of us but eventually we got to know them and became friends. We then went swimming in the refreshing water. There were many different places to swim: a water cave, a waterfall, and a small water tunnel. While the kids were swimming, the adults were making our lunch with what we bought at the grocery store. After swimming for a while, we were kicked out for lunch and played some activities with our new friends. They then had to go back to school (haha ‘school’) and we had a little more time to swim. It was such an amazing experience to meet new people whom some of us have been “talking” with for such a long time.
After having a really fun time with new friends, we continued our theme of charity by going to the Emunah Center in Afula. The Emunah Center is a place where at-risk children from the ages of 5-18 go to have housing and food, or just afterschool care. When we arrived, we met our guide, Ellin Yassky. We went into the library and she told us that she was also an Ezra parent! Her two children were Ezra students and now serve in the Israeli army and study in University in Israel. After explaining her connection with us, she explained the mission of the center. She told us that it was a residential place and an afterschool care center. They are able to care for 200 children at each branch of the center, of which there are five. At the one in Afula, they house 110 children, and care for 90 afterschool. There, the children are fed and kept safe from their guardians who are potential threats to them. There are many kids from different countries like Russia, Ethiopia, Israel, France and more. While our class was there, we got a short tour of the facility. We saw the dorms, the art center, Bet Knesset and their basketball/soccer court. While the girls got the tour, the boys were playing soccer against some of their boys! In the end, we lost 2-4. However, the boys got the tour while the girls were playing and we won 1-0! The kids were really good! After we had our fun, it was time to bake cookies! Everyone had a child in between them around two tables, and got to put the cookie dough on the cookie sheet. We were excited that we got to talk to them in Hebrew! After that it was time to go, but we were so glad that we got to make the children happy.
Because everybody played soccer, we were all so hungry! For dinner, we went to an amazing falafel place called Falafel Golani. When we told them what we wanted, they started throwing the falafel balls in the air and caught them inside the pita! We were all so amazed how they could throw it and catch them so fast. They also put fries in the falafel and it was soooo good. Anat and Matan Weiner, former Ezra family, joined us for dinner and so did Lisa, another former emissary! After that, we got back on the bus and headed to Ashdot Ya’akov, the kibbutz. We had a tiring basketball game followed by relaxing in the hammocks… Parents beware – many of us are planning on having our own hammocks!
Rafi, Ally, Skylar, Marcy, Amalya and 8th graders