GIFT take Aish Genesis students on social action journey to Ukraine with JRoots

24/04/19GIFT take Aish Genesis students on social action journey to Ukraine with JRoots

GIFT in a brand new initiative, took a group of Aish Genesis students on a social action journey to Ukraine. GIFT, Aish and JRoots, are all members of the Jewish Futures Family of educational organisations and joined together to create the first ever GIFT led journey, which was coordinated by JRoots, who organise inspiring, meaningful and educational Jewish journeys in Europe. The group of students who attend the Aish Genesis programme on campuses across the UK, focused their efforts on the trip on impactful volunteering visiting underprivileged communities, schools and orphanages in order to see how they could make a lasting impact. 

The students started their trip in Kiev, with a visit to Babi Yar, the memorial of the largest single massacre of the Jews. The group went on to visit the local Jewish primary school for the Kiev community where they played games and did arts and craft activities with the year 4 children. The students where then joined by a group of some older Jewish Ukrainian students for the GIFT supermarket challenge, where they were split into teams and given the equivalent of £20 in Ukrainian hryvnia currency. The students had to buy enough food to feed a family for an entire week for only £20, this food was then delivered by the students to elderly people in need from the Kiev Jewish community.

Before departing to Zhytomyr for Shabbat, the group went back to the primary school to have a Shabbat party with the nursery, reception, year 1 and 2 children. GIFT gave out games and sweets they had collecting from the post Purim Mishloach Manot drive to all the children. The students final stop was at Hesed Centre for the elderly, an old age home where they sang with and spoke to the elderly residents.

In Zhytomyr the group stayed at a Jewish orphanage, setting up a salon before Shabbat with beauty products brought from London, to help get the girls of the orphanage ready by doing their hair and nails. After spending Shabbat together, the group went with some of older children from the orphanage to the local bowling alley and arcades.

The final day was spent balloon modelling with the children in the orphanage before the final stop in Anatevka where the students visited the local synagogue and met with the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine. To end their trip, the students planted fruit trees outside of the synagogue to represent their visit but also to leave lasting impact in the hopes of providing for the community.   

Rabbi Zeidman, Senior Educator for Gift commented on the first ever GIFT led trip to the Ukraine: “GIFT’s first social action trip to the Ukraine represents taking our mission of creating givers to the next level, and with the help of JRoots we were able to provide an incredible action packed trip combining Jewish heritage, social action and inspiration for the Aish Genesis students. Through visiting and volunteering at schools, elderly members of the Kiev community and orphanages it was clear that through all their various acts of giving over the course of the trip, the students each left with a greater sense of purpose to keep giving through impactful volunteering and helping those in need.”

Maddy Assor Birmingham University student said:The trip to Ukraine with Genesis and GIFT was truly inspirational. I was able to see with my own eyes how life is like for Jews in third world countries that are seriously struggling as a result of political turmoil and financial crises. Seeing first-hand the children in Or Avner orphanage in Zhytomyr and running activities for them or simply just hanging out was so rewarding and taught me so much. The trip enabled us to give in a way that we hadn’t before, and I hope that we impacted the kids just as much as they had an impact on us.”

Erin Klein Birmingham University students said: “I had the most amazing experience in Ukraine. I volunteered in two orphanages and learnt about the history of Jews in a region of the world that is not well known. I am very grateful for the opportunity through GIFT and Genesis. This trip has been very moving and has made me want to do more for less fortunate people.”

JRoots organises inspiring, meaningful and educational Jewish journeys through our heritage, looking at the past, the present and the future.

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