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DOROT Westchester


Rabbi Martin Cooper – University Without Walls

Rabbi Martin Cooper DOROT volunteer since: 2000

How did you get involved with DOROT?

The Board of Rabbis informed everyone that DOROT was doing the University Without Walls program. I did something similar about 30 years ago. I used to be the Director of Jewish Education in relation to media, so this sounded very interesting to me. I thought it was an excellent idea.

What type of volunteer activities do you do?

I used to teach Hebrew over the phone, as well as programs on Jewish festivals, folk stories connected with the festivals, Jewish current events, and sometimes I would give the sermon that I would regularly give during my service.

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

Whenever you do something new, you have to look at things you might not normally look at. Everything requires preparation. I had to research stories for my classes that I would not have ever looked at on my own time. It really broadens your mind. You are required to think about the things you are doing as opposed to just doing it.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

The participants are very interested and engaged in the sessions. They really enjoy it. They are also very interesting people. The seniors make really great comments. The participants are from all different places and they bring a diversity of experiences and stories about how they used to celebrate the festivals when they were younger. Our sessions also give them a chance to celebrate the festivals even though they are homebound.

Most memorable volunteer moment?

I can’t recall a specific moment; the experience is very satisfying overall. I learned about one participant’s relative who was an expert on the Holocaust and he ended up coming to speak at one of my services as a result of knowing his family through our telephone classes. Doing the phone conferences also gives the opportunity to be creative.

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

Most people have a skill they can pass on. It doesn’t matter what it is but that someone can learn from it. It’s always good to hear from someone who is enthusiastic about their subject. Participants receive enthusiasm really well. I enjoy volunteering with University Without Walls. It’s not a question of, “Is this something I have to do?” but it’s more like, “I want to do this, I’m excited to do this!”

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