Volunteering in Israel

Tupelo to Israel: Longtime teacher sees dreams come true through trips abroad

 
More news
Open letter to volunteers and organizations
iVolunteer-Omprakash Partnership
iVolunteer is on Twitter
Join our Facebook group
More news
Volunteer unit trains for river rescue
Post army service, 23 Israelis volunteer in Mumbai school
Vacation with a purpose
Seniors crochet colorful gifts for Staten Island cancer patients
Whoever saves one life saves the entire world
The Health Benefits of Volunteering During Retirement Years
Mitzvah Magic volunteers circle celebrates 10th anniversary
Volunteer to Help Others and Yourself
Volunteering keeps older minds sharp
Fall is the time for teens to volunteer and reconnect
Can A Great-Grandmother Serve In The IDF?
TBM volunteers train for disaster relief in Israel
Volunteering with seniors can be fun
Living to serve: Conference shows how to do Jewish by helping others
Women and Men Give Differently, Even during Retirement
Toronto's Seniors with Skills offers older adults a place to volunteer
Veterans and PTSD: How Volunteering Can Bring Healing
Bridging divides in Israel
TELFED CELEBRATES 70TH ANNIVERSARY WITH ISRAEL
3 Amazing Perks Retirees Can Get at Their Volunteer Jobs
New Jerusalem neighborhood of Guatemala rises from ashes
Four ways to prevent loneliness from wrecking your retirement
Making the world a better place, for everyone
News at ten: More Mitzvah Day good deeds than ever
Giving creates love
Leading By Example
Israeli Druze teens learn first aid, visit elders weekly
Presiding over World,WIZO, a network of 800 projects serving children, yout
Thousands of North American teens gather in Israel for NCSY mega-event
'HOPE AND INSPIRATION': CAMP KOBY ALLOWS KIDS TO HEAL
Jewish teens enlisted to fight anti-Semitism in Germanys schools
The US firefighters volunteering to protect Israel's south
As part of Jewish Community Centers service day, volunteers help out around DC
Jewish Volunteer Center in West Palm recruits volunteers for service projects
Holocaust Survivors Unexpected Mitzvah
Jewish-run summer camps a welcome respite for refugee children
The organizations that help the IDF's 6,500 lone soldiers
After founding health care in pre-state Israel, Hadassah continues to innovate
IFCJ VOLUNTEERS: THE EXTRA NESHAMA OF ALL WE DO
American students get firsthand experience in Israel, MDA-style
Saving Lives Regardless: The Diverse Volunteers of Israels United Hatzalah
Volunteers For Israel Starts New Program
Shomrim NW London Volunteers Honored by Police
DETROIT TEENS VOLUNTEER TO FIGHT POVERTY IN ISRAEL
Bat Ami: Healing Hands
Rank and File: A Veteran Volunteer Is Honored
Melbourne Jewish Care Celebrates Excellence Staff & Volunteer Awards
Volunteers From Jewish center Help Spruce Up Deserted Village
How the Jewish community is helping refugees integrate in Britain
WIZO WAS ISRAELS FIRST SOCIAL START-UP, SAYS ORGANIZATION'S OUTGOING PRESIDENT
CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS IN ISRAEL
A gap year dedicated to learning and volunteerism
ISRAID sends US dentists to treat refugees in Kenya
Friends deliver knockout donation for Jewish befriending service
THE JAFFA INSTITUTE HELPS DISADVANTAGED ISRAELI CHILDREN
Mitzvah Mania youth community Volunteers Help Spruce Up Deserted Village
Child heart surgery NGO first Israeli charity to win UN Population Award
london anaesthetist and Hatzola doctor wins prestigious award
JDC SEES JEWISH VOLUNTEERING BLOOM IN EUROPE AND FSU
In nations capital, Jewish teens with disabilities offer summer help to homeless, hungry, seniors
Rank and File: Volunteers Clean 2,250 Pounds of Trash at Jaffa Beach
Changemakers shine
A staff member observes A Birthright's Special Needs trips
MDA Volunteers Celebrate 38 Years Of Paramedic Training
Chabads CTeen Cares Program spreads community kindness
Volunteer dedicates his life to Jewish community
Redbridge Jewish Community Centre volunteers recognised at MIKE awards
Jewish Federation director a tireless humanitarian
Knesset honors Israels outstanding Anglos
PRESIDENT RIVLIN HONORS NATIONAL SERVICE VOLUNTEERS
Why People Love Volunteering in Israel
Jewish Pet Rescuers Find a Heartfelt Calling
Judaism on Kindness to Animals
A special day made this sick boy's dream come true
Holocaust survivors share their stories over meals with volunteers in an expanding circle of support
Ezer Mizion Highlighted at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC.
Why Volunteering Is Good For Your Career As Well As Your Soul
Volunteers, Locals Join Forces to Fight Arson Attacks from Gaza
Volunteers for Israel dig into new program starting this fall
Prime Minister honours mother of terror victim for volunteering venture
Mission to Israel strengthens Chicago Jewish womens connection to Israel
The Volunteers Who Hug Babies Abandoned in Israel's Hospitals
Israelis join week-long operation to rescue 12 boys trapped in Thailand cave
How volunteering became outreach for millennials distanced from the Jewish community
New website centralizes Jewish volunteer opportunities
Meet the refugees who sought sanctuary with Jewish volunteers
Rank and File: 40 Young Immigrants Arrive in Israel, Ready to Serve in the Army
Rank and File: Volunteering Is Good for Your Health, Says ESRA
Volunteers honored for service and inspiration
Tomorrows Jewish doers and leaders
A Jersey teen wins national award from Hadassah
Jewish Pavilion volunteers bring joy to senior residents
Daughter of Nazis awarded for saving lives in Israel
2 MILLION ISRAELIS TO VOLUNTEER IN THE 12TH ANNUAL GOOD DEEDS DAY
Israeli backpackers volunteer in Rios slums to remember a friend
SPOTLIGHT: A CHANCE TO GIVE BACK
Yes we kendo! Volunteer martial artists teach kids with cancer to fight the pain
IDF RECRUITS YOUTHS WITH DISABILITIES TO SERVE AS MILITARY DOG-HANDLERS
That Time That a Group of Druze Teenagers Set an Example For the Rest of Israel
A SHARED JOURNEY TO UPLIFT RESCUED DOGS AND THEIR TRAINERS
Watch: The Israeli-Arab Santa who volunteers at children's hospitals
WORLD JEWRY MARKS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
HUNDREDS OF JEWS ATTEND FIRST-EVER LIMMUD EVENT IN VENEZUELA
More news

TUPELO Allen Cayson has been a school teacher and coach for the past 28 years. He loves his work, but hes long had two dreams that both seemed out of reach until recently: to be in the military, and to travel to Israel.

Now hes figured out a way to realize both dreams at once.

The 52-year-old Cayson is just back from his third summer trip to Israel, where he served as a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) through Volunteer For Israel (VFI). The program places volunteers from all over the world in Israeli military bases for one-to-three week intervals throughout the year.

Cayson sports a weathered, olive-green IDF shirt with Hebrew lettering on the chest pocket and shoulders. Tan, fit, and upright, with a shaved head and fighter-pilot glasses, he could pass for an Israeli soldier. He said his experience with VFI was one of the best of his life.

Other than seeing my children be born, its one of the greatest things Ive ever experienced. Ive been three times and Im already signed up for next year, he said.

Cayson said the trip combined his lifelong fascination with the military and a love for Israel, instilled in him by his father, who was a Baptist minister.

I always loved the military and planes as a kid. My uncles were in the military, and my dad volunteered for Vietnam but he failed the physical. He became a Baptist preacher, and he always said Israel is the apple of Gods eye, he said.

According to the VFI website, the trips offer an insiders view of Israel. Volunteers must pay for their own travel expenses, but once in country, the program provides three kosher meals a day, as well as housing on base and in off-site hostels at no charge in exchange for labor.

Volunteers wear the IDF uniform and work alongside soldiers and other volunteers, performing non-combat duties such as maintenance, packing medical supplies, and repairing machinery. At night, IDF staff teach the groups the basic of the Hebrew language, as well as Jewish military history and cultural customs.

Cayson explained that since the Jewish Sabbath begins Friday evening and ends on Saturday night, VFI participants work from Sunday morning through Wednesday evening, giving them the rest of the week off-base to go sightseeing and relax. While he enjoyed his volunteer work with the Israeli military, it was seeing the holy sites hed heard about since childhood that proved so powerful.

I cried like a baby when I walked into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I went to the Sea of Galilee; I stood on the Temple Mount. I stayed in a hostel in Jaffa overlooking the seaport Jonah left from the oldest port city in the world. The wood for Solomons Temple came through that port. Alexander landed there, as did Napoleon, but his men came down with a stomach virus, so they packed up and went on to Haifa, where they got defeated, he said.

Cayson said while Israel is a small country surrounded by powerful enemies, its military is a force to be reckoned with, at least in part because every able-bodied Israeli citizen is required to serve.

All Israelis men and women must serve in the military. Its a mandatory two years for girls and three years for boys. They can stay in or leave after that, but every citizen is in the reserves until theyre much older, and they can be called up at any time, he said.

As the cradle of the worlds three Abrahamic faiths, day-to-day life in Israel is often affected by warring religious ideologies. On his trip last year, Cayson visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 13, just one day before a group of three terrorists at that site opened fire on a group of Israeli policemen, killing two before being gunned down. Yet Cayson said he never felt anxious about his own safety.

I felt safer there than I would in most American cities. Most of the hostility is toward the army, not ordinary citizens. You can go out on the beach at midnight in Tel Aviv, and therell be people Arabs and Israelis swimming and cooking out on the same beach, he said.

Cayson said the camaraderie between volunteers is instant and lasting.

You work and eat and travel and hang out with people from all over the world. You learn from each other and become instant friends. I had a guy from Norway come stay with me in Tupelo just a couple of weeks ago, and he invited me to come visit him in Norway, he said.

Cayson said volunteers with VFI not only create lasting bonds with one another, but also with members of the Israeli military.

When we show up it lifts their morale. They cant get over the fact that we pay to come do this. It blows their minds. When you grab them and tell them, I love you and Im praying that the God of Israel will protect you, some of them will just break down and cry, he said.

Now that Cayson has figured out how to live out two lifelong dreams, he said he wants others to have the same experience.



Responses Submit response
There are no responses for that item.
Designed By Bee Creative