Zippy, our new JVN summer intern, gives her time to volunteering

I would like you all to meet Zippy Lerner, our new intern here at JVN.  Last Monday, Zippy and I participated at a programme held at Hasmonean Girls School. Here is her report.  Over to you Zippy!

On Monday the 27th of June Leonie and I went into Hasmonean Girls School to attend as part of an enrichment programme for Year 9 girls, which was this week led by yours truly!

Our primary focus was to get the 15 girls really inspired and really understanding what volunteering is about.  Leonie began by using the children’s book ‘The Giving Tree’ to illustrate the point of what it means ‘to give’.  The title of the book in Hebrew is ‘Ha’etz Hanadiv’ – with the word Hanadev based on the word Lahitnadev “to volunteer” – instead of being Haetz Hanoten, which also means ‘the giving tree’, but where Lanoten is the traditional for giving in the general sense.

Zippy and the girls

So we asked the girls, why use the word Hanadiv – when it is more closely connected to the word volunteering, not giving?

The answer is a bit of a grammar moment and a meaningful moment.  The verb Lahitnadev is reflexive, just like in the French verbs like se lever (to get up) or se souvenir (to remember) where the action is transformative – not just to the world or other people, but to the person doing it as well!  So it actually makes far more sense to use the reflexive verb in this case, because volunteering impacts the person giving as much as does the person or organisation being given to.  A volunteer is giving their time and a part of themselves too. The girls really took this to heart, finding it extremely thought-provoking even if accompanied by the odd fit of giggles!  

I then went on to discuss with the girls the connection and difference between the mitzvah (commandment) of tzedakah and the wider category of mitzvoth that it belongs to – Gemilut Hasadim (loving kindness).  My main goal was to show the girls that Tzedakah is a specific mitzvah and is focused on raising or giving money to the poor.  But added to that, Gemilut Hasadim is a category for many different mitzvahs to do with loving kindness and there is great variety out there to do, including the giving of time through volunteering.  So when you dedicate your time to a cause, when you volunteer, you can truly have this double effect that we were discussing with the young girls: one of transforming another’s life, and also personal growth.

It was a really successful morning and – as an Intern – a great opportunity to try out some of my presentation skills. We were truly impressed not only with the amount of volunteering the girls had taken upon themselves during this academic year, but also with the willingness and the enthusiasm of the girls and how they truly took the message to heart.  There is, of course, is no better ending, than saying thank you and giving out our very own JVN pens and bookmarks, hopefully to get them signed up to the JVN website!



Categories: Leonie's View


Hi, I'm Mike, JVN's Youth Co-ordinator and blogger. I'll be blogging about all sorts of issues affecting the volunteering community, with a particular focus on how recent developments might affect the UK Jewish community's volunteers. I'm always interested to read the comments you make. If you have something you want to see in the JVN blog, e-mail me at and I'll be happy to talk. And if you're inspired by any of my blogs to volunteer, log on to and register to find your perfect volunteering opportunity.


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