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DOROT Westchester


Lee Slavutin — University Without Walls

DOROT volunteer since: 1998

Shontay Alston How did you get involved with DOROT?

I don’t remember exactly, but I think it may have been through Congregation Rodeph Sholom, which I was affiliated with at the time.

What type of volunteer activities do you do?

I volunteer for the University Without Walls (UWW) teleconference program. This program enables seniors to participate in lively, stimulating classes — all over the telephone.

I facilitate 3 Judaic Studies conference calls for 6 — 8 seniors weekly.

I teach lessons from the Torah that connect people with the weekly Torah portion.

In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?

It is a very important experience, and a big mitzvah, for me to share my knowledge of Torah with other people. These classes on the phone are fantastic for those that can’t get out of the house.

This experience is very rewarding because over the years I have been able to meet many people. Some become regulars in my classes. Once they feel comfortable enough to be more vocal and willing to ask questions and participate in a greater way, the more satisfaction I have — I know that they are learning something.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

The importance of sharing and learning Torah with other people and also the joint satisfaction of the participants that are learning something. It is a fabulous experience.

Most memorable volunteer moment:

Each week, I like to remind participants of the date and time of year we are in, according to the Jewish calendar. Now, one of my regular participants has taken it upon herself to be responsible for telling the class what the Hebrew date is.

Another memorable moment was when a woman who used to just listen and be very shy about speaking up and asking questions now feels comfortable doing so. English is not her first language, but she now has courage and persistence and will not let anything go by if she doesn’t fully understand. She will ask until she is sure. This gives me tremendous satisfaction.

What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?

For UWW volunteers, facilitating courses is a fantastic volunteer experience.

Volunteers should know that you can give SO much knowledge to people that may not have access to it any other way.

It is important to prepare lessons and provide meaningful content. During the lesson, it’s important to treat everyone with respect and dignity. When you do, they become more comfortable and excited. It is also very important to be enthusiastic. When you convey sincere enthusiasm, they will want to learn more. Finally, it is important to keep doing it. The more you do it, the more people will come back — and before you know it, you have become friends.

It is such a big mitzvah, I would encourage people to do it.

Anything else you would like to share?

Whoever thought of UWW deserves a gold medal and tremendous recognition. It is a wonderful program for those who are unable to leave their home.

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