Once I returned to Beer Sheva, we began our training for our volunteering opportunities in the near future. Representatives from an organization called Atidim provided several training seminars. Atidim is an organization that works to help strong motivated students in poorer cities gain admission to the prestigious universities. For more information on Atidim, see this website [http://www.ujc.org/page.html?ArticleID=91392]. Since students must speak English to enter the universities, the focus of Atidim is pushing the students to develop a stronger grasp on English.
Just before we left for Jerusalem to observe Yom Kippur, we set up a carnival for the children in the new immigrant absorption center where we live. There were games, prizes, candy, and activities for the children. The children, as well as all the Otzmanikim, truly enjoyed it.
The OTZMA group spent Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. I attended services there and made my way to the Kotel on the holiest day of the year. During Yom Kippur the streets had no cars running, instead everyone dressed in white was walking in the streets, children were riding bicycles and skateboards, and not a single store was open, it was truly a sight to behold. Never has a Yom Kippur been so meaningful to me as my first in Jerusalem.
I am so extremely thankful to all of the donors to the Federation system who are allowing me to be here and experience this. I hope that all of you feel that your contributions are going to a worthy cause, since those contributions are what is allowing me to be here in Israel today. Just as you have contributed your hard earned money to make this trip possible to me, I hope to contribute my time and effort to beautify Israel, to provide aid to those less fortunate, and to live up to the Jewish ideals.