Four people from Indiana, Rita and Keith Pitzele, Marcy Ekhaus and Michael Kleinman, recently returned from Israel after performing two weeks of volunteer work on an Israeli army base through Volunteers for Israel. They lived in relatively spartan conditions, in barrack rooms that were built to house three bunk beds, but were only occupied by two volunteers. They worked side-by-side with Israeli soldiers and civilians, lived among the soldiers during the workweek, and spent the weekend enjoying Jerusalem.
They performed routine maintenance duties on radio communication mounting frames. The frames weigh about 15 pounds. Duties included disassembling the frames, cleaning and painting them, and then putting them back together with new ground wires. Training was provided by the soldiers.
For Keith, Rita and Marcy, this was their first experience with Volunteers for Israel. Keith noted, “Being a Volunteer for Israel was a very meaningful experience for me. It provided my wife, Rita and me the opportunity to meet young soldiers in the IDF and appreciate just a little bit what their lives are like during their term in the service. In addition, to experiencing this wonderful opportunity, hopefully we were able to provide some service to the State of Israel by spending our days working in one of their shops. We also had the opportunity to spend this time with a wonderful group of fellow volunteers from the United States and Canada, with whom we all seem to share the same goals.”
Rita said, “I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be a Sar El volunteer, living and working on the army base in Israel. Meeting some of the young soldiers and the reservists who visited was an experience I wouldn’t want to have missed. Sharing the experience with Keith, Marcy and Michael made it even more special, and getting to know the other volunteers in our group was a lot of fun. It was that much more so because of the camaraderie we all felt in our shared wish to do something for Israel and to let the soldiers know that we stand beside them.”
Marcy stated, “It was a very interesting experience, exposing me to an aspect of Israeli life I would never be able to experience otherwise.”
For Michael it was his sixth experience. He mentioned, “I really enjoy working with the Israeli soldiers, and letting them know that there are people outside of Israel who love the country of Israel and want to help.”For more information on the Volunteers for Israel program, please see the website www.vfi-usa.org.