This paragraph is taken from my diary. Two years after the trip to Poland, I find myself writing again in the same diary I wrote in during the long bus rides between the concentration camps and ghettos in Poland. It's the same diary my mother wrote in when she went on the same journey as a teacher several years earlier.
And today, almost like a natural sequence, in the pages of this diary I write and document the story of Moshe Hamelstein, a Holocaust survivor living alone in Bat Yam, with whom I meet regularly once a week.
How did I even get to Moshe? It's a long story. On September 1 I moved to Bat Yam together with another 12 scouts graduates, as part of one of the community service year programs offered by the scouts movement – the Atid group.
The Atid group focuses on a connection with the Diaspora and Jewish identity. As part of my community service year in Bat Yam, I volunteer in different places: An elementary school, a home for young girls in distress, the Elem association for youth in distress, and weekly meetings with Moshe.
In addition to the different volunteering activities, together with all my commune members, we are connected to an annual program of Jewish American and British teens who come to Israel for a nine-month period to study and volunteer here. We escort them in different activities and help them get to know the Israeli society.
I began the meetings with Moshe in December. After the initial acclimation period and after understanding the daily routine in Bat Yam, I wanted to start another volunteering activity, which would be different from dealing with children and youth.
My desire to volunteer with a Holocaust survivor stemmed from my great interest in World War II and the Holocaust. The trip to Poland I went on at the end of the 10th grade only increased my interest in the subject and made me want to learn and hear more.
It hurt me to read in the paper about the bad treatment of Holocaust survivors in Israel, and I decided I was interesting in acting differently. I turned to six or seven different associations who help Holocaust survivors and eventually, the Generation to Generations association connected me to Moshe's daughter.
I didn't really know what to expect ahead of my first meeting with Moshe. I arrived at his home one Monday evening, excited and fearful, with nothing more than a newspaper in my hand. I introduced myself and began reading a little of that day's paper to him.
We began talking and I got to meet an amazing and fascinating person. This is how the connection began between Moshe, 91, who was born in Poland and has been living in Bat Yam for about 65 years, and me, Noa, 18.5, from Givatayim.
Despite the age difference and all other differences, we found a common language. I find myself many times telling him about myself and listening to the stories of his life from the past and present.
In spite of the busy schedule, I like our meetings. I enjoy coming to his house and simply talking to a person with knowledge resulting from actual experience, which leads to admiration. The smile that appears on his face every time I arrive gives me a sense of satisfaction and comfort.
At the end of every weekly meeting, despite his old age and difficulties, Moshe always shakes my hand strongly and thanks me for coming. He doesn't know how much these meetings mean to me too.
Good Deeds Day – help needed
The Scouts Movement's Atid group, which Noa belongs to, is organizing a special happening in Bat Yam ahead of Good Deeds Day, which will be held on April 5.
For this purpose, the service year members are trying to recruit commercial companies and fashion stores.
Want to donate? Contact Noa by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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