It is said that in pre-modern society, barter was the way that the economy was conducted: you give me X and I'll give you Y. But once we emerged into the modern world, money replaced this give-and-take economics. For ESRA's Modiin Branch, however, barter has now become the new "currency".
In 2021, the Modiin municipality gave its Disabled Veterans a physical headquarters, to enable the organization to better provide services to the more than 1200 disabled veterans residing in Modiin and the surrounding area. About 300 members of the Disabled Veterans Clubhouse participate in a variety of programs on weekdays and evenings in the group's former kindergarten facility in Modiin's Buchman neighborhood.
But what to do with the facility during the hours that the group doesn't have activities? Here is where groups helping groups resort to barter.
In addition to their volunteer work with ESRA, Bob and Judy Golub are members of the Modiin Lions Club. Judy is the chairperson for ESRA Modiin. One of the members of the Lions, and a past president of the Hebrew-speaking community service group, is Simcha Shidlowski, who is also the manager and director of the Disabled Veterans Center.
Hearing the Golubs speak about the lack of a meeting space for ESRA Modiin, Simcha proposed that the Disabled Veterans clubhouse might answer ESRA's physical needs during the hours that the facility was not in use by the veterans. There, ESRA could organize classes and lectures — all this without costing ESRA a shekel. But how?
When asked what ESRA could do in return for the generosity of the Disabled Veterans who did not want monetary payment, Shidlowski proposed barter: we'll provide the clubhouse, you provide tutoring services for our members. That is how ESRA Modiin came to organize English classes to Modiin's disabled veterans in exchange for room rental.
An initial 10-week program was proposed, and ESRA volunteers have been happily offering their services. The program has been running for some weeks now with a small number of students eagerly attending each week.
Additionally, in honor of Disabled Veterans Month (December) and to celebrate Chanukah, ESRA Modiin's knitting circle has been making wool hats for the veterans. The nimble knitters, helped by a group of knitters in Harish, created a large selection of hats which were eagerly accepted by the vets.
It seems that bartering is still in practice and everyone benefits.