Oct 26, 2023 By David Pollack Category: Blueprint Negev,
Israeli Youth Come Together Volunteering
Yesterday I returned to the olive grove to continue helping the local farmer Noam harvest his crop and was delighted to see many young students volunteering their time to help him. I spoke with a number of them and learned that they were all 18 years old and will soon enter the IDF, but do not want to wait until their formal induction.
They decided to perform some early “national service" to help farmers and protect Israel’s food security. They are well aware of the threat facing the State of Israel and showed remarkable courage and commitment to do whatever is necessary to help their country. It was inspiring to experience the Zionist vision through the eyes of these wonderful young people.
Israeli society had never been more divided, perhaps, than it was prior to October 7. But on that day, the anger and mistrust between religious and secular, right-wing and left-wing, Ashkenazi and Sephardi all seemed to vanish as the people united with one common goal, to thwart an existential threat that did not distinguish among them. I have seen this play out all over Israel during my visit and it was very evident here in the olive grove where secular and religious young boys and girls worked side-by-side in harmony and with a singular purpose, to help a local farmer save his crop.
Our small group of adult volunteers included one very Orthodox and one very secular woman who previously might not have had much, if anything, to do with each other. But today, they bonded together over several hours, helping each other, talking about their families and their children, sharing their stories and working as one.
There is a growing hope in Israel that once this war is over, the bitterness that divided us on October 6 will remain in the past as we move forward in harmony and peace together. Sadly, Noam was unexpectedly called back to his unit near Gaza and our time with him in the olive grove came to an end. This experience, however, has given me more insight into, and a deeper appreciation for all of the amazing work that JNF–USA performs in Israel helping to build, maintain and protect the Land of Israel and the Zionist dream.
Thank you to David Pollack, a civilian volunteer from New York, for sharing his experiences in Israel this past week.