Exceptional dedication deserves to be acknowledged, and Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Jeremy Issacharoff, felt that no one is more deserving of such recognition than the dedicated volunteers who left country, home and friends to care for the most vulnerable members of Israeli society, the residents and students of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran.
With original plans for a ceremony of tribute at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin modified due to continuing social distancing regulations, volunteers Silke Kampmann, Nathalie Weinstock, and Frederik and Laura Pans found themselves guests of honor at a larger, international ZOOM conference event. Participants included Ambassador Issacharoff, Major-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, chairman and founder of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, TOS supporters Jobst and Charlotte Bittner, Heinz Russ and Anne Möller, and Michal Shani and Adi Furman, village volunteer coordinators. Fittingly, the change enabled volunteer Silke Kampmann, still at the village caring for residents, to join in as well.
The volunteers spoke of their experiences in the village, emphasizing how much they were influenced by the residents. “When I tell people that I worked with people with disabilities for half a year, they can’t really understand why I found the experience so meaningful,” commented Nathalie Weinstock. Doron Almog expounded on that thought, explaining how his son Eran influenced his outlook and became the inspiration behind his unremitting activism for disability rights and inclusion. The ongoing volunteerism of German citizens at ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, continued Almog, is a gesture of atonement for the crimes of the Nazi regime and a sign of how far our society has evolved.
Ambassador Issacharoff commended the four volunteers, citing their day-to-day caregiving activities and praising them for their decision to stay in Israel despite the outbreak of COVID-19. The decision to remain at ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran and continue caring for the village’s immunocompromised residents exemplified and strengthened the friendship between Germany and Israel. Against the background of increasing anti-Semitism in Germany, continued Ambassador Issacharoff, the actions of these dedicated volunteers prove that there are Germans who are ready and willing to stand by Jews and the State of Israel.
The ZOOM ceremony ended on a cheerful note with a short question and answer period, after which participants wished each other a happy and healthy New Year, expressing hopes that they will soon be able to leave their masks behind and meet in person.