«Jewish Observer»
August 2002
5762 Elul

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It is the fifth time that Kiev Institute of Social and Community workers has held a regional seminar of volunteers of kheseds from central and western Ukraine. And every time, as it was admitted with satisfaction, the themes enlightened during the seminar, forms and methods of volunteers' work become more efficient, the number of volunteers grows.

It is important that during 3 days (from August 2 till August 4) at the Victory sanatorium in Vorzel the seminar participants did not only listen to reports, but gave talks about their kheseds, their problems, about people under their wardship always awaiting volunteers and confident in their help.

The seminar program was unusual. All the participants (there were about 140 people from 13 regions of Ukraine) were split into 24 groups, which consisted of volunteers involved in similar activities. Precisely in these small groups people learned each other better. And when the time came to introduce individual volunteers, the participants heard not self-introductions but their group-mates' assessments.

There is another, so to say, small detail. The fashion is more and more often set by young people. A lot of them have become volunteers. They have brought with them endless energy, creativity, particularly to the work with children.

There were very interesting meetings in creative workshops of volunteers. Here each of them managed to show what they do to work effectively. It is here that their character, devotion and creativity were revealed. They had one aim - the final result. And the only thing they lacked when they talked about the methods they used was time that was limited by the program. But there were more important things - their colleagues' intent attention, a torrent of questions and interesting suggestions.

The slogan "Nobody has been forgotten, nothing has been forgotten" seems to be unshakeable and clear. Yet, up to now in Europe there are neglected places where Jews were exterminated on a mass scale during the Holocaust. The young volunteer from the ancient town of Bibrka in Lviv Region Igor Vald discovered what seemed to be a well-known place where the Jewish residents of his town had been shot. Yes, everybody knew about it. But the ditches where people had been shot had got overgrown with shrubbery. It was necessary to put an end to forgetfulness.

Igor Vald didn't remain indifferent to it. Together with his father he stubbed the shrubbery in the burial place and asked his friend to design a monument. He involved the Lviv khesed and Holocaust center into it, raised money and spent his own. And he did what he intended.

In the self-made clip he had brought the volunteers saw a moving scene - hundreds of Bibrka residents gathered at the ceremony of the opening of the monument to the victims of the Holocaust. Justice triumphed 60 years later. The young volunteer of Lviv khesed Igor Vald restored it.

The author of this article also spoke about commemorating the Holocaust victims in the Volyn region. There was a lot to say. In this region there are monuments in 47 places of mass extermination of Jews in 1942. Besides, dozens of survivors who have scattered round the world, as if they had vanished into thin air, were given assistance in their search of relatives and intimates, people who had saved their lives during the war, in preserving monuments and in putting the places of sorrow to rights.

Other volunteers who spoke about what they did were Grigory Sterlin from Chernigov, Natalia Gerasimenko from Khmelnitsky, Mikhail Marmontov from Ternopol, Tanya Alekseeva from Lviv.

As the organizers had planned, the seminar was dominated by two themes, namely "How can khesed assist volunteers?" and "How can volunteers assist khesed?" With all my respect to the organizers I believe the questions to be illogical. Can there be kheseds without volunteers? Yes, if they use their staff. Can volunteers do without a khesed? Yes, they can. They are the people who generously share their knowledge, experience and skills with others, who are always ready to help. They help gratis. And if they join a khesed, it will work more efficiently.

So let there be fewer indifferent people!


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