The People of 7,000 Books

More years than I can count – I think it’s got to be around 7 years…maybe 8, we started this amazing Book Swap thing. It’s really very simple. What happens is this. We collect books which people donate for free. And then people come and take them and give a donation to charity in their place.

I can’t remember how many books we collected the first time. We were pretty overwhelmed. There were about 6 or 8 tables. People crowded in and when we were done, we’d collected close to 4,000 NIS (plus another gift got us up to just under 5,000 NIS. The next time we did it, we topped 8,000.

A bit over a year ago, our community rallied together and raised almost 25,000 NIS in just days for Tzvika Cohen, who was seriously injured in a terror attack in the local mall.

We’re about to hold another one of these Book Swaps and I’ll admit to being a bit overwhelmed. We’ve collected close to 7,000 books in just over a week. We have picked four charities for this event – the first two will be local…two funds to help needy families in our city. The other two, like each of our events, will go to other charities.

Keren Yosef in memory of two boys from Beit Shemesh who died recently in a horrible traffic accident (Eitan Palmer, z”l and Brachyahu Sosolovitch, z”l) and Ten Gav, which is an internet crowd-funding platform that matches donors to individuals and families with modest needs.

The lessons I have learned as I have helped co-coordinate these events are very simple but also very important to remember and apply at every level. It is something I fail at more than succeed, but still I try. What are those lessons:

  • Ask for help and take it when it is offered – I tend to push myself until I break. I’m trying so hard to learn to sit back and accept that it is okay for me to sit when others are working just as when I work, others can sit. Today, I realized I was getting overwhelmed. In just under an hour, two women will come help me pack the hundreds of books that were donated today.
  • Have faith that if you build it, they will come – for years I have looked at the mounting pile of books and wondered what would happen and then sat back in wonder when the crowds arrived. The night after we closed the book swap for Zvika Cohen and I understood that we had raised almost 25,000 NIS (24,600 and change), I sat down and had the good cry I had promised myself. Have faith.
  • Just because things look right, never underestimate the amount of work it took to get there – in two nights, a few hundred people will come to the social hall and start looking through the books we have collected. Our Google chart says we are at 6581 books, but I know that there are still many more to come. It will take almost 20 people more than 2 hours to sort the books by genre and as you can see in the picture, there will be too many books and so under the tables we will place cartons more. As people buy, the tables will be restocked by more volunteers.
  • Believe in the impossible – 7,000 books. Wow.

The Maale Adumim Book Swap is an act of love that is successful because huge numbers of people are involved. Dozens of volunteers, over 100 donors and hundreds of people who attend.

Date: December 6 and 7

Location: Pnei Shmuel Social Hall, 100 Mitzpe Nevo Street, Maale Adumim

Egged bus #174 from Binyanei haUma
“Park Mitzpe Nevo” stop announced by automated system


Wednesday: 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

All proceeds go to charity.


Paula R. Stern

Paula R. Stern is the CEO of WritePoint Ltd, a leading technical writing company in Israel. She is also a popular blogger with her work appearing on her own sites, A Soldier's Mother and PaulaSays, as well as IsraellyCool and a number of other Jewish and Israeli sites.

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