Angelina Doherty writes about the importance of volunteering and her work for Eco Synagogue and West London Synagogue
For some, volunteering is a part of life these days. Simply an idea or a short dedication of personal time can change a life for the better or make waves in helping make the world a better place. Small, thoughtful actions make for happy ripples and sometimes it’s just nice to be nice.
Synagogues are an important hub for volunteering opportunities and are pivotal in reaching out to members, especially during difficult times which concern everyone. With restrictions relaxing and then becoing tighter and a sense of not knowing what to do, people need someone to rely on. Looking to synagogues for ways to volunteer is a good start but putting together new ideas and getting people involved is equally as important.
At West London Synagogue, an admirable effort is being made to ensure consistent social care is in place including providing support to older or vulnerable members and helping groups in the wider society such as asylum seekers or the homeless. The synagogue’s well-organised and friendly approach is a great example of how fulfilling it is to commit personal time to the efforts of a synagogue.
When lockdown came, the synagogue put together a very organised plan to support the many vulnerable members. Volunteers took time every week to call members, deliver groceries and medicine, help with small errands, offer a bit of hope or put a smile on their faces. It’s a remarkable example of pulling together when being kept apart. Strangers became part of one-another’s lives. There were journeys to be shared and stories to be heard and the only reward was honest gratitude.
Volunteering can be about helping people one-to-one but it can also involve contributing any skill or expertise to a project that needs enthusiastic people to make it a success. It’s ideal for retired people or those going through a transition period.
Eco Synagogue is a wonderful and relevant effort by the Board of Deputies in making positive change to the world: a real example of Tikkun Olam and a productive and motivating opportunity for a very worthy cause, turning words into action. Eco Synagogue is ever mindful of environmental concerns and offers ways to bring about positive change to the world through synagogues, members and community, at home and locally, while still bringing awareness of how global these problems are and how everyone can help play their part in making a difference. Helping make synagogues greener across the UK is a step in the right direction and synagogues can apply to become an Eco Synagogue by visiting their website and filling out their survey. Members can become part of this effort by volunteering as part of a “green team” or by encouraging their synagogue to apply.
There is a lot to accomplish in volunteering that can’t easily be achieved elsewhere. It’s a beneficial and also enjoyable way to be part of the community. Not all good deeds come with a reward but offering time to help do the right thing is a priceless experience.