Last March, Northeastern sophomore Marisa Palace was on a service trip in Israel just as COVID-19 was shutting down the world.
Funded by CJP, the annual Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip brings 20 undergraduates to Israel to participate in service projects. With help from the Boston-Haifa Connection and Shorashim, students have volunteered thousands of hours at, for example, the Nirim School and Yemin Orde Youth Village.
During her trip in March, Palace helped sort clothes and food boxes for hunger-relief efforts. She made chocolate at a kibbutz and painted a ceramic hamsa at a nonprofit for at-risk youth in Jerusalem. Each day, the group visited two nonprofits and learned about social issues tied to those organizations’ work.
Just two months before ASB, Palace was on a Birthright Israel trip with her sister. Although she did not travel with her Northeastern campus community, Palace most definitely came back with a lot of enthusiasm and ideas for next steps.
“I didn’t really know much about Judaism,” said Palace. “We dropped out of the temple after my bat mitzvah. So, through Birthright and then ASB, I have a lot more of an appreciation for being Jewish now.”
Before COVID-19 canceled all programs in Israel, Palace was preparing for a summer Onward Israel internship funded by CJP. Due to the pandemic, Onward Israel arranged a remote internship for Palace with the nonprofit OneDay Social Volunteering.
Based in Tel Aviv, OneDay Social Volunteering facilitates one-day volunteer projects for adults, similar to how CJP has worked with Boston Cares to organize one-day service projects for students in Dorchester and Roxbury.
“I wrote blog posts for the organization’s website and also helped make sure the site’s translation into English was done without the mistakes that translation apps make,” said Palace. “I also interviewed a lot of the volunteers and wrote about volunteerism in Israel.”
At Northeastern, Palace is a business administration major and active in Hillel. Connected to her business skills, she is involved in the campus Tamid chapter, where students learn about investing in Israel and take on consulting projects. In the months ahead, she will manage logistics for the chapter’s professional events, virtual or otherwise.
An affiliation that Palace has had for years is with Spoon University, through which she’s written about food culture online and cultivated community among the writers. Long before COVID-19, she was organizing Zoom hangouts for writers based in many cities, as well as organizing a seminar in New York.
In Boston, Palace also attends the large intercampus gatherings organized by CJP, including Campus Cares Day and Get Back to Israel Night. To help other students find their way on campus, she volunteers for Northeastern Hillel’s “Fresh Fest” orientation series.
“I do it because I can tell other people how great all of this has been for me,” said Palace.