Spirit of volunteering

Israel Trakeniski

Some volunteers come and go whilst others are constant.....It started fifteen years ago when Liz, who worked for ESRA, suggested to her husband Israel, an economist at Bank Leumi, that he commence his volunteer experience at ESRA's new Techushon in Herzliya.  The afternoon activity for special needs children badly needed male role models and strong ones at that.  Israel was perfect for the job.  The first meeting was a disaster when an overly active child punched, slapped and spat at the intimidated six foot new volunteer. Undeterred Israel went back each week, received training and supervision – he had found his niche. (By the way, several years later this same youngster was a guest in the Trakeniski’s home together with the scout group he belonged to ... and he was perfectly behaved!)  Israel's patience, warmth and ability to reach out to each child soon saw him in demand also at other ESRA Techushons in different towns - Rosh Ha'ayin, Netanya, Jaffa, Ramat Hasharon - so that he was volunteering two to three times a week.  Within a few years Israel became quite expert in understanding the specific needs of each child and supporting other volunteers in the Techushons.  Fifteen years on and he continues to be dedicated to the Techushon on Thursdays. But he now admits to having been affected by the volunteer bug.  He volunteers on ambulance teams and teaches for Magen David Adom, teaches scuba diving to youth at risk, and sets off for a month each year for reserve duty with the army's volunteers division.  Israel claims that his volunteering is a purely selfish act as he receives so much more than he gives. Maybe so but ESRA and many others value his expertise, his caring, his reassuring smile, his humor and his reliability. 

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About the author

Merle Guttmann

Merle Guttmann was born and educated in Zimbabwe and immigrated to Israel in 1962. She is well-known in Israeli Anglophone circles and Israel’s social and volunteer fields. A social planner, ...
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