Two New York City educators have launched an effort to support children in Israel by tutoring them over Zoom at a time when they can’t get to school.
Tamar Lindenfeld, a teacher and tutor, got the idea after realizing her nieces and nephews in Israel were missing class.
“I realized, you know, this is totally my wheelhouse. I can absolutely support with this,” she said.
She fired off some emails to friends and colleagues she thought might be interested. The response was overwhelming.
“The emails, I don't know how they spiraled the way that they did. But from my 30 emails, we've received over 700 responses. And it's been, it's been wild,” she said.
Her friend Jamie Meltsner, a tutor and former teacher, dove in to help her run the effort, organizing a color-coded spreadsheet of tutors and clients who need help.
“At this point, Tamar and I are scheduling over 55 students with three to four different sessions with 150 tutors. So it's been a lot, but it's really good work and we love doing it,” Meltsner said.
So far, more than 500 tutors have signed up -- including Ashley Grossman, who held a recent session with a young boy.
“How’s your Wednesday going so far?” she asked him.
On the other end of this Zoom call, thousands of miles away in Israel, the little boy answered: not so good. He explains why.
“Because they are sending so many rockets,” he said.
“You can feel a little bit helpless. What can I do? How can I help?” Grossman said. “And so I just couldn't think of anything that I would rather do more than spend some time with these kids and their families.”
Many of the volunteers are working odd hours to overcome the time difference.
“The number of people that are willing to wake up at five to do a session, that are willing to do 5:30 to 6:30, I mean there are people that are willing to do the middle of the night, which is astounding to me because most teachers by nine o'clock like can’t keep their eyes open,” Lindenfeld said.