Monday, October 11, 2010

Why We Volunteer

Ilene Cohen is our Volunteer Coordinator.

People volunteer for many reasons. As the Volunteer Coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland it is my job to understand why, and to keep them motivated to do so.

In response to this question on our volunteer application, some of the most popular replies are “to give back to the Jewish community,” “to interact with others and develop friendships,” and “to make a difference.”

Some of the volunteers who truly make a difference, in the lives of our visitors, are our

docents. The docents are those who act as guides in our two historic synagogues and exhibit galleries.

Sometimes when leading an “Introduction to Judaism” tour to public school youngsters they might initially field questions like, “do all Jews have blue eyes?” By the end each tour they have built such a rapport with the students and are sorry to see them leave.

A number of groups send letters following their tours and I’d like to share some that we have received.

A youth fellowship group visiting from Israel noted: Our visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland was very interesting, and the tour was a great way to start off our trip…the history of the Jewish community in Baltimore is instrumental in understanding the history of the Jewish community of the United States.

A third grader at the Talmudical Academy wrote: I appreciate your being such a good guide on our trip. He listed all of the things he liked that he saw, and finished with… I liked the part when you knew my father!

Another young visitor explained: My favorite part was when I got to learn about the Jewish hat (yarmulke), and the Bible (Torah scrolls), and the church (synagogue)…

Some include pictures on their notes, one such also said: …thank you for giving us an educational tour of the synagogue…I noticed that the Torah is very important to you…

Our very favorites are the ones that include: p.s. I can’t wait to come back!

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