Connecting to Ashkelon through Volunteering


Howard Goldstein and his wife Sally first travelled to Israel in the late 70’s, visiting a family member who had made aliya years before.

Having taken a ten-year hiatus, they began to visit more frequently, not at all deterred by the political climate and unrest at that time.

“We were in Israel during the first Intifada in 1987 (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza) and that’s when I first felt a very visceral connection and knew that I wanted to be there as much as possible,” Howard shared.

Over the years, the Goldsteins and their family travelled back and forth to Israel, immersing themselves in Israeli culture, history and language. A few years ago, they purchased an apartment in Ashkelon, Baltimore’s partner city, spending time in the summers with their two younger children.

“The growth and development and education and culture that is going on in Ashkelon is fantastic,” said Howard. “People in Ashkelon are very interesting. They are very understated and dedicated to Israel. Almost everyone I met had underwent large self-sacrifice to move there and made a life and contribution to the country.”

Howard’s desire to interact with more Israelis and give back to a country he loves, led him to volunteer work in the city of Ashkelon. A self-proclaimed “handy man”, Howard volunteered doing carpentry at a nearby school and spent time engaging with people of all ages.

For one week this past summer, Howard volunteered at a day school camp, joining the kids in their activities and helping the teacher in class as needed. During his second week volunteering, Howard worked at the Halperin Elderly Home.

“Howard came and joined our activities in the art room. He helped the elderly with their crafts and during that time had a chance to have long conversations with them. Despite the short time, some of our residents really got attached to him,” said Rivkah, volunteer coordinator at Halperin.

“I try and help the community, help the people, help the country in whatever small way I’m able. I am very proud of all Israel accomplishes and the benefit Israel provides to all Jews,” explained Howard. “Volunteering allows me to express my gratitude and allows me to give something back. I hope to do much more in the future as well.”

Howard will be returning to volunteer in Ashkelon later this month.

If you are interested in learning about the impact you can make through volunteering with the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership, contact Marisa at mobuchowski@associated.org.

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