As the Year 7 students embark on the final leg of their B’nei Mitzvah journey, the tikkun olam (repairing the world) component, they were privileged to hear from a panel of experts who have made tikkun olam part of their daily lives. As this unit of the B’nei Mitzvah program will see the students go out into the greater community to volunteer their time and energy to those in need, it was fitting to have an introduction by four speakers who have made a huge difference to their chosen causes.
First up was Jesse Burns from the Sea Shepherd organisation. Jesse is a volunteer for Sea Shepherd and has been heavily involved in campaigns to save whales in the southern ocean. He spoke about how, as a volunteer, one has to change their mindset from thinking about themselves to trying to make a difference. Jesse spent a year out at sea and said that during the tougher moments, he always had remember why he was there and the difference he was making.
Debra Korman spoke next and told the students, “Do everything with love and kindness and it comes back to you a thousand times over.”
Debra is involved in feeding homeless and disadvantaged people from a food van in Port Melbourne, has taught English and served food at a school in a slum in Mumbai and has also adopted a 20-year-old Iranian asylum seeker. She said that by by making a difference to one life, she has gained so much herself.
Adele Stowe-Lindner spoke about growing up with a family culture of helping others, initiated by her grandmother. She shared her experience of working at a 24-hour homeless hostel and spoke to the students about her current work for Ardoch, an organisation that helps 11,000 disadvantaged students a year.
The final speaker for the day was Nat Gabriel, who began as a volunteer but now works for Flying Fox, which runs camps and weekend getaways for kids with special needs.
The panel provided information that is crucial to the students’ understanding of tikkun olam and we are grateful that these wonderful guests were able to make time to share their poignant, life-changing experiences.
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