Aviva In Poland

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Wonders of Warsaw!

Dearest Family, Friends and Readers

Yesterday officially marked 3 months since I arrived in Warsaw and the past weeks have been so incredible and energizing!

I have been writing for a long time about Mitzvah Week, which took place in the 7 communities that the Social Welfare System works in, was run by the volunteer centre(my office that I share with my wonderful boss) and the idea was to create a program in each community to thank and show volunteer appreciation, promote our work, unite communities and bring everyone together. Our centre created special gifts and diplomas for all volunteers. We sent material about Mitzvot and encouraged the Social Workers to include as much of the community as possible. Events took place on different days throughout the week and I was fortunate to travel to Krakow and Gdansk for their events.

In Krakow the event took place at the senior club, volunteers, seniors, members of the community, the Rabbi and Youth leadership all came. The Social Worker made a presentation, the Rabbi spoke addressing the importance of the work and everyone had a wonderful time.
I returned to Warsaw and left Friday morning to spend Shabbat in Gdansk. Gdansk has a small and truely lovely Jewish Community. Volunteers, seniors and members of the community gathered for Shabbat Dinner. The President of the community addressed the volunteers and expressed gratitude for their work, the Social Worker made a short presentation and I made a speech about the week and the importance of what we do. I even managed a few sentences in Polish! At that dinner which had about 30 people I really felt like I was surrounded by a wonderful family.

I got back to Warsaw late Saturday night and on Sunday we were having the final Mizvah Day program that we had worked very hard on. I was so nervous about numbers, the program, the food-you name it and it went so well. The idea was to bring our volunteers, their clients, the youth, the day school kids, the community leadership and members of the community together for an afternoon to celebrate...and thats just what happened! We had over 50 people, our volunteers brought their clients, the Youth Club kids performed, the Lauder School students sang, the community President Spoke, the Lauder School Director spoke, my boss( the volunteer centre director) presented our volunteers with diplomas and gifts and everyone had a wonderful time. People remained for a long time and enjoyed the wonderful food and company. I felt so inspired by the event. So many different people came together to celebrate doing Mitzvot and so many different people were touched and inspired by the event. I now know that these events are possible. Uniting communites is so important and it is embraced when it is done. There are so many different people, different Jews with different stories, ubringings and values and they are connected to eachother, their Judaism and their roots. Their Jewish lives, past, present and futures are important and embraced and I was fortunate enough to see this first hand and experience the energy and warmth in different communities around Poland.

Sooo that was what I did-this week I took a mini vacation with my friends to Berlin, which was soo much fun. Its wonderful when it only takes 5 hours to get there! Now I am back at work and we are working on plans, for Chanukah, Im going to be attending and planning a training seminar for young counselors(a differnt JDC department-but Im here to do anything) and are making some long term plans and goals for the New Year.
If you are still reading-thank you!
I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Shabbat Shalom!
Sending lots of love and inspiration from Warsaw


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