Looking for a new mitzvah to take on, while making a difference in the lives of Israeli teens? Consider joining Israel Connect, a program where local adult volunteers connect, one-on-one via Zoom, with Israeli high school students who want to improve their English conversation and reading skills. The program starts on Oct. 15 and is organized by Chabad Richmond, in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Education. It entails a commitment of 60 minutes once a week.
There are currently 24 local volunteers participating in Israel Connect as tutors/mentors, and Chabad Richmond is looking to increase that number, since the need in Israel continues to grow.
“We’re looking for volunteer retirees, seniors or any adults who have some free time to join the Israel Connect program. No previous tutoring or teaching experience is necessary and the curriculum is provided,” said Shelley Civkin, local program coordinator. “If you’re an adult fluent English speaker, you have basic computer skills, and you own a computer with a camera, that’s all you need.”
Volunteers do not need to speak Hebrew and can tutor from home. Basic training and technical support are available. Time preferences of volunteer tutors/mentors will be coordinated beforehand and sessions take place in the morning between 7 and 11 a.m. Vancouver time, any day between Sunday to Thursday.
“Israel Connect asks for a minimum commitment of one school year, in order to ensure consistency for the students,” said Civkin.
“It’s a very practical way for community members to support Israel and build bridges between diaspora Jews and Israelis,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad Richmond. “You’ll be doing a mitzvah, while investing in Israel and its young people. Plus, proficiency in English will give them an advantage in accessing post-secondary education and getting better jobs.”
Israel Connect is one of the largest external providers of services to Israel’s Ministry of Education, slowly removing the most significant barrier to social and economic mobility. Partnering with the Israeli Ministry of Education, the program targets teens from less advantaged neighbourhoods in Israel.
“Most volunteers really enjoy helping their Israeli students and develop a lasting bond with them. It often goes beyond simply tutoring the curriculum, and turns into friendship and mentorship,” said Civkin. “This kind of one-on-one tutoring makes a huge difference in their lives, both educationally and personally. It gives them a feeling of confidence that they can converse in English without being judged or marked. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that you’re doing something concrete to help Israeli students better their lives.”
The curriculum consists mainly of a tour of Israel, focusing on the wealth of historical, cultural and biblically significant cities and sites. It’s not uncommon for both the students and the tutors to learn something new about Israel at each lesson.
Civkin said several tutors have visited their students on trips to Israel and keep in touch beyond the school year. “Life is all about building relationships and Israel Connect is the perfect way to do that,” she said.
To volunteer, or for more information, contact Civkin at 604-789-5806 or [email protected]. For anyone who can’t participate as a tutor, Chabad Richmond welcomes financial support for Israel Connect, which covers overhead costs like technical support, staffing and other administrative costs. To support the program, call Chabad Richmond at 604-277-6427 or email [email protected].
– Courtesy Chabad Richmond