February 26, 2015
Judi Kloper, a Kulanu volunteer from Corvallis, Oregon, traveled to India in November for a wedding, and made plans to stay and visit with the Bene Ephraim community (BEC) located in the Andhra Pradesh region of India. Prior to her arrival, Judi communicated with some of the community members about how she could help; they requested Jewish books and other Judaica, including mezuzot and a Zohar. Impressively, Judi was able to collect two suitcases full of items contributed by her Jewish community: Hebrew and Jewish Studies books; many siddurim and Tanach; books she used to teach English; Havdallah candles (which brought great joy to the community); many kippot; and two tallitot. She also brought a few CDs of Jewish music. The request for the Zohar and mezuzot came too late for Judi to fulfill, but plans for this are in the works.
In addition, while visiting the Bene Ephraim, Judi found that they were eager to learn more Jewish music and prayers, so she has begun collecting CDs and requesting files to share with the community, and is looking for a laptop that the community can use to listen to, download, and burn CDs of Jewish music and prayers. Already her childhood synagogue, Temple Israel of Natick, MA, and her rabbi at Beit Am have sent her some Jewish music online. ”All of us” are amazed and grateful for the wonderful effort that Judi and her Jewish community put forth in support of the BEC!
Judi organized the entire “donation drive” herself, from requesting contributions to coordinating the pick-up and drop-off of the donated items (some of the books had already been donated to Kulanu, and were being stored by another volunteer in Maryland who shipped them to Oregon for Judi to bring to India – great teamwork!). Judi said she simply put a note out to her Jewish community’s list-serve, and the response was heartwarmingly generous. “It’s amazing… what people will donate if we put it out there to them.” She has now started requesting mezuzot for the BEC in the hope that she can bring them with her on her next trip (hopefully in a few months)!
Judi wrote of her Corvallis congregation, Beit Am, “We are not a large Jewish community, but a tight-knit one with Jews of every persuasion. So many people responded, and one family donated $300 which was great since I was also charged extra [at the airport] for the two fifty-pound suitcases.” When she arrived in India, she was met by one of the community members who happened to be in Delhi at the same time, and he was able to bring one of the suitcases back home with him. She sent the other suitcase to the community via courier (another expense she covered herself), since she had some traveling planned before visiting the Bene Ephraim community.
Judi tells us that members of her congregation have started telling their friends and relatives about her trip, inspired by her dedication and her experiences. You can read about Judi Kloper’s volunteer-visit to the Bene Ephraim community of India in the fall issue of our magazine, KulanuNews (see kulanu.org/magazines). Many thanks to Judi Kloper, and to the Beit Am Mid-Willamette Valley Jewish Community of Corvallis, OR, for their generosity and dedication to Jews across the globe!