Hillel Goes to India

Published: July 15th 2010
in News » World

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A group of 10 Hillel student activists, 5 each from Toronto and Israel, have recently embarked on on a philanthropic journey from Israel to Dharamsala, India for a one month Olamot (Hebrew for “worlds”) volunteer program.


India has always yielded a sense of mystical, exotic appeal in terms of a volunteer location. As far as humanitarian work is concerned, what better way to embrace your own culture, than by working together to improve the lives of others?


Financially supported by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, Olamot (under the patronage of IsraAid: The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid) is a unique program that brings together Israeli and Jewish students to volunteer on behalf of Dharamsala’s largely Tibetan population. 


Participation in last year’s Olamot pilot project successfully exposed Hillel students to the realities of the refugee Tibetan community, its culture and its traditions. This year, according to Hillel, the program has a similar turnout in terms of numbers, but with an older, primarily graduate level contingency, especially compared to other Hillel events.


“It is through such unique immersive programs that our students will stay committed to ongoing social justice initiatives,” said Zac Kaye, Executive Director for Hillel of Greater Toronto.


The group will initially spend 3 days in Delhi, then head north to Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and India’s most concentrated Tibetan population.


The group’s volunteer placements will vary, including organizations like Tibet Charity, which aims to provide a better future for marginalized Tibetans by developing their social environment, and giving them access to basic and advanced education. The organization also provides free medical services.


Some volunteers will also work with the Louisiana Himalaya Association, founded as a grassroots organization in 1997. It is dedicated to helping Tibetan refugees who have fled their country to escape persecution.


Volunteers may also be placed with organizations that deal with AIDS, literacy, and preservation of Tibetan identity.


Said Ted Sokolsky, President and CEO of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, “We are deeply proud of the humanitarian work that IsraAID provides around the world and now, once again, our Hillel students can join IsraAid in helping to shape a world rooted in the values of social justice.”

Related articles: (India, Hillel, Olamot, UJA)
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