Before this Alternative Break trip, I was honestly pretty nervous. I didn’t know many of the SF Hillel people in our group, I was traveling alone, and I didn’t know what to expect. I ended the trip not only with experience working in the community, but with great new friends. I gained a new sense of self on this trip and learned to love people even more.
I had many favorite moments throughout this trip. Some of these included the Civil Rights tour throughout the city, the workshop with Free Minds, and serving with Books Through Bars and Reading Partners. Reading Partners is a very structured program that teaches children to read, and it was just incredible to be a part of that. I also really enjoyed volunteering in a food pantry and soup kitchen. Flyering about SNAP benefits took us through some really interesting neighborhoods of Brooklyn. We also stayed at the East Midwood Jewish Center, which was an absolutely beautiful building. A particular highlight was learning that the Torah commands us to care for the stranger.
Even though we were busy volunteering during the day, we managed to have plenty of free time. Seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island was really incredible. I also loved trying new foods. At one point during the trip, a few of us got lost on the subway and we had the best time making jokes. We also found a cat shelter that allowed us to play with the cats. (I am still not a cat person.)
I am leaving with a deeper appreciation and consideration for others. Now that I’ve bonded with the group, I’m looking forward to getting more involved with SF Hillel. I was so inspired by the non-profits with which we served and the talks we shared. This trip gave me an understanding of community organizing and involvement that most people don’t have the opportunity to experience. I felt such a strong sense of community among the organizations in Brooklyn. Best of all, I learned of ways to get involved in my own community now and in the future.