Going to Israel for free is the most amazing opportunity that I have received. And all I needed was a Jewish grandparent! I felt so fortunate and grateful for this trip, and I was even more so when I found out that we had a chance to give back to Israel during our time there.
Towards the end of our trip, we visited Pantry Packers in Jerusalem. Pantry Packers is a “food distribution project of Tzedakah Central/Colel Chabad, the oldest continuously operating network of social services in Israel – established in 1788.” They work towards a better Israel by providing food to families in need. They rely on volunteers who come and package food to be shipped. My Birthright Israel: Amazing Israel trip was specifically the Edible Israel trip, so being able to give back in the food industry was perfect. When we arrived, we watched a brief video of the history of Pantry Packers, and what they do for the community. We then geared up in aprons, gloves, and hairnets. We went into the packaging area, and were taught the skills needed to operate the machinery. There were multiple jobs on the assembly of bags of couscous we were making. First, the bags needed labels. Then the bags were filed using a loading machine that was refilled from the top by a large container of couscous. After the bag was filled, it was sent through a heat sealer. The final step was stacking these bags into boxes and getting them ready for shipment. Our labels included special stickers that identified our birthright groups as he packers for the product. That means that all of the families who receive this food, know exactly who helped get it to them.
Birthright Israel: Amazing Israel and Pantry Packers were both transparent about the fact that this does not solve all of Israel’s hunger, and that there are bigger overlying issues. However, this is one step towards the improvement of life for many families in Israel. I am glad and thankful that my trip included this opportunity.
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