Opportunities to Volunteer
Several of the projects The Matzevah Foundation coordinates in Poland each summer provide an opportunity for volunteers to join us in the work. It provides a great way to involve yourself in the important work we do in the Jewish cemeteries as well as a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the Polish culture. While the work is hard, we have a lot of fun!
Our tasks in the Jewish cemeteries consist of clearing of brush, grass, small trees, and other vegetation. Heavy lifting is often involved, though not required for all participants. There may also be opportunities for the use of equipment such as loppers, weed eaters, and hedge trimmers.
All levels of strength and expertise are needed. Our best teams consist of people who arrive with a willing heart and flexible spirit to help accomplish whatever task we might have to do. Some of our most effective work comes from visiting with local citizens and playing with children as well as using equipment to clear brush or collecting broken matzevah (headstone) fragments.
There is a spot for everyone!
Note: Applications for summer 2019 have closed. Stay tuned for info for 2020!
Scroll through these pictures to get a look at the different type of work we do during a cemetery restoration project
As the schedule allows, time is allotted for cultural activities, discussions on Jewish culture and history in Poland, and sight seeing in the local area. We have visited local museums, historical sites of significance to Poland and Jewish history, concentration camp museums and memorials.
To express interest in a project for the upcoming year or to request more information, please fill out the Volunteer Application . We also require two personal references and those can be filled out with the Volunteer Reference form.
What is the application process to apply to be a volunteer?
The first step is to complete our online application form. Once received and reviewed, The Matzevah Foundation (TMF) will contact you with further steps. We typically ask for three (3) personal references and will provide a timeline for those to be submitted. TMF will also set up a phone or Skype interview time with you. This call would be 30-60 minutes in length and is meant to provide a chance to get to know you better. It’s also a great opportunity for you to ask more about the project, about TMF, and our work in Poland. The call will be conducted by the project leader and may include additional TMF board members.
After the interview process, the Board of TMF will then determine whether the volunteer is a good fit for the project.
When do trips usually occur?
The majority of our cemetery restoration projects occur between May and September each year. There might be an occasional project that falls at a different time of the year but historically our work has occurred during the summer months.
How many days does a project take?
The number of work days we spend on a cemetery restoration project will vary. The majority of our projects are 5 days in length (Monday - Friday). The schedule could alter depending on national or religious holidays. We do recommend that you arrive in Poland 1-2 days before the start of a project. This will help you adjust to jet lag and the time change should you be traveling from a far distance. We also like to recommend that if you are able that you spend a day or two either prior or after a project exploring Poland… it’s a beautiful country!
What is the cost of the trip?
The cost will vary by project, however, the average cost is typically $1,000 USD + airfare. (From the USA, trips are generally between $2,200-$2,500 USD).
What expenses do my costs cover?
Volunteer expenses paid to The Matzevah Foundation will cover:
Lodging and meals during the time of the project
Transportation during the time of the project
Is a deposit required?
Yes. A deposit of $300 is required. The deposit will be due to The Matzevah Foundation within 2 weeks after you receive confirmation of application approval
Are my payments refundable?
Should you need to cancel your trip with The Matzevah Foundation, please notify the project leader as soon as possible. At that time your balance will be calculated and returned to you. Balance equals deposited funds minus expenses incurred and minus non-refundable fees. If you cancel within 30 days of the project, your $300 deposit will not be refundable.
We highly recommend you purchase travel insurance to help cover any unexpected needs.
Is there travel insurance available?
The Matzevah Foundation does not offer travel insurance. For US participants we require travel insurance to be purchased and for others we highly recommend it. Some popular insurance companies to purchase from are:
AIG Travel Guard
Allianz Global Assistance
Who makes the travel arrangements for flights and in-country transportation?
The volunteer is responsible for booking travel to and from Poland (plane, train, etc.). The volunteer is also responsible for any in-country transportation prior to or after the project. The Matzevah Foundation will arrange in-country transportation during the time of the project.
Who makes the lodging arrangements for the time in Poland?
The volunteer is responsible for arranging lodging needs prior to and after a project. The Matzevah Foundation will set up all lodging needs during the time of the project.
What type of lodging is there during a project?
Lodging will be dependent on where the project is and what is available in the area. We generally look for hotels, agro-tourism homes, and conference centers to stay in.
What skills are required to participate in a project?
A willing heart and a flexible spirit are a must! We do require volunteers to be in good health.
Cemetery restoration projects include physical tasks such as a lot of walking, dragging and carrying cut branches, brush, and small trees, using equipment such as hand shears, loppers, rakes. Those who are able and have experience with, can use heavier tools such as bush hogs and string trimmers.
This work is hard at times and you will be tired at the end of each day, but you will feel a gratifying sense of accomplishment, too!
Are there any vaccines that are required for travel to Poland?
Not at this time. The Matzevah Foundation does request that your tetanus shot is up to date.
Is a passport or Visa required?
A passport is required for travel to Poland. Please check with your country to see if any additional documentation is needed. For US residents, only a passport is required.
Is there a minimum age requirement?
Adults over the age of 18 are welcomed. Children 15 and up must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
These FAQ's apply to individual volunteer applicants. If you are bringing a group to a project, details will be coordinated with the TMF project leader. For more information, please email email@example.com.