Ten Texas Baptist Men volunteers took their expertise in mass feeding to Israel recently to learn how to provide those services in a culturally appropriate manner in Israel.
Two results emerged — more kosher-trained volunteers and a readiness to move to a second phase in the Israeli-TBM partnership. After the latest TBM trip to Israel, more than 100 TBM volunteers are trained now for emergency food distribution in the country, said John-Travis Smith, TBM associate executive director and liaison with Israeli leadership. Several hundred trained volunteers are needed.
The effort is part of a TBM partnership with Emergency Volunteers Program in Israel to provide meals after crises such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Willing to adapt
Israeli leaders reported the training experience has been “fabulous,” Smith said. They affirm how TBM has been willing to adapt to the particular kosher requirements in Israel.
“I think it went wonderfully,” said Gary Finley, team leader. “We went over there to learn from them how to prepare meals based on their culture and traditions, and I think we showed them that we’re able to do this.”
The team “did whatever needed to be done, and I believe our Israeli hosts were impressed by the professionalism TBM brought to the table,” Finley said. “We showed we could prepare meals efficiently and in the way they need them to be prepared. We were willing to work.”
Team member Jackie Grey said: “Everything was amazing — fabulous people. I learned loads.”
Now, both Israel and TBM are ready to expand the effort, which is preparing for “any kind of emergency,” Smith said. “Israel is overdue for a 100-year earthquake.” And terrorist attacks and forest fires pose threats, as well.