by Yohai Gross
“In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” — Jacques Barzun
Six years ago I was working for an amazing organization in Israel called ELEM. This nonprofit was developed by American Jews and Israelis to try and help at-risk youth in Israel. The work approach is different; almost all of the people that were working are volunteers and the field of work is on the streets and in the parks during the night.
I was working three nights a week with groups of volunteers from different ages 25 to 65, all of them giving one night a week from 8 p.m. to 3 o’clock in the morning. Our job was to create a bond of trust with kids who were dealing with drugs, crime, and life on the streets—all of this outside of any educational structure.
Years later, I got a call from a person I didn’t know. “Hi,” he said. “Did you work for ELEM six years ago at the Meir park? We are having a goodbye party for the kids as there is no more need for us here, and we wanted to invite you.”
I have to admit that I was shocked. I didn’t believe that they remembered me. I asked him how they were doing, and he told me that some are doing very well and are going to join the army soon. I was so happy to hear that especially after this last Sunday.
On Sunday evening, February 19, I was attending for the first time to “A Night to Honor Israel” at Victory Christian Church. It was a beautiful event and at the end of it, $15,000 was donated to a farm for at-risk kids in Israel, kids just like those I had worked with in the past.
Most of the time you will never find out if what you did in the process of education worked or had any effect. This week I was fortunate, once because I was involved with the beautiful event of Tulsa Christians and Jews together helping youth in distress in Israel, and secondly, because I was fortunate to find out that some of the work I was a part of in the past had some positive results.