‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” – the famous Hillel quote from ethics of our father 1:14. As we are living in unprecedented times, where social interactions is all but forbidden, yet the need for social responsibility could not be more important, I couldn’t help but think of this quote.
By staying at home and self-isolating, we are protecting ourselves from the Covid-19 pandemic; The very epitome of ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’ But what about the rest of our community? What about those less able to fend for themselves in crisis? How do we stop our friends and neighbours from also struggling? As the spread of Covid-19 leads to the closing of institutions the most vulnerable rely on, the time is now for us, as young Jews, to volunteer.
But if I am only for myself, who am I?
The importance of community, and more specifically looking after the most at risk in our society, is a duty bestowed on the Jewish people. We’re encouraged to give at least 10% of our income to the needy, always remembering to assist the less fortunate. This practice has been a Jewish onus since biblical times. However, Jewish responsibility to the needy is not limited to just monetary donations. For example, Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness) are seen as further-reaching and more impactful than finical aid. Gemilut Chasadim is all encompassing and can be as simple as donating time, personal services or resources to help another. With our charitable responsibility as Jews in mind, it is unquestionable that we should practice Gemilut Chasadim and volunteer amid this medical pandemic.
If not now, when?
With universities closing and social arrangements cancelled for the foreseeable future, many Jewish students are finding themselves with more free time on their hands. This therefore provides the perfect chance to volunteer. Telephoning a Mencap member or writing to a resident of The Feinmann Trust Care Home is a productive way to spend the new found free time Quarantine has granted us. Furthermore, as the Covid-19 situation develops, charities are in greater need of volunteers and the impact a person can make is more powerful ever before.
Throughout the next week, UJS will be posting different volunteering options to inform Jewish Students of the opportunities available to them. Also have a look at the infographic below for some inspiration. If you have any questions then please email Georgia