|Dafna Meir ah and Achuzat Sarah
|by Judy Lash Balint
I\\'ve been writing for Emunah Magazine for years. Emunah runs a network of residential homes and educational facilities for disadvantaged kids that change lives.
Dafna Meir, the mother of 6 murdered earlier this week by a 15 year-old Arab terror-teen, came from a difficult home background and spent part of her childhood in Emunah\\'s Achuzat Sarah Children’s Home in Bnei Brak.
Achuzat Sara is an oasis of order and stability in a rundown neighborhood peopled almost exclusively by poor, ultra-orthodox families. What\\'s most striking about Achuzat Sara is not its fancy building--it was built in the early 1960s--but the quiet dedication of its leadership and staff. Shmuel Ron, director of the home, moved his wife Ita and their four kids into the grounds when he started working there, back in the 1980s.
I interviewed Shmuel several years ago, and he told me, \\"My first job is to make the children feel comfortable here, to be a better place than the homes they came from. We give them a home that looks a lot like a house, not an institution,\\" he explained as he proudly showed me around the tidy, cluster-style accommodations, each headed by a Torah observant young couple.
\\"Our next goal is to take them as they are, and to help them go as far as possible,\\" Shmuel added.
As we walked around the immaculate campus where thousands of needy and traumatized Israeli kids have found a refuge over the years, Shmuel told me that most institutions steer away from the really difficult and most needy kids. \\"Here we see them as a mission. That\\'s what drives me; to do whatever we can to heal the wounds.\\"
Dafna became a nurse, a wife, a mother and foster mother, an advisor and teacher on halachic issues regarding fertility and a pillar of her community, Otniel.
I\\'d say Dafna, Shmuel and Emunah fulfilled their mission.
|Congregation Ahavath Torah and Emunah Solidarity Mission to Israel
|New York, New Jersey, July 27th, 2014
Congregation Ahavath Torah and EMUNAH of America arrive in Israel on a Solidarity Mission.
A group of 80 members from Congregation Ahavath Torah, the Englewood synagogue led by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, together with leaders and members of EMUNAH of America, arrived in Israel on Sunday July 27th. The group – who declared “We care and we are going,” -- will spend a week traveling through the country to express their solidarity during this challenging time in the Nation’s history. \\"We are here to help, encourage and support in any way we can,” said Rabbi Goldin.
They will visit with soldiers, stop at hospitals to visit wounded soldiers, and make shiva visits to bereaved parents of fallen soldiers. A visit to an Iron Dome installation is on the itinerary, as well as stops at two of EMUNAH’s children’s homes which have been severely impacted by the rockets. They will meet the staff of the EMUNAH Sderot counseling center, one of Emunah’s 13 centers which have seen a tremendous increase in the amount of people seeking treatment for trauma. .
\\"We all feel a personal responsibility to share just some of what the people in Israel are experiencing right now. Hopefully, with Rabbi Goldin as our leader, our presence and support, and whatever help we can provide, we can bring some comfort and a sense of support to our brothers and sisters under attack,” remarked Fran Hirmes, EMUNAH Chairman of the Board.
|Emunah in Israel is in urgent need of our help
We are at war and war calls for immediate action! Responding to a crisis is what EMUNAH is all about. Today, we are writing to you to ask for your help, right now.
Our leadership in Israel is urgently requesting funds for the following immediate needs:
• Our 13 counseling centers are providing services 24/7 throughout the country. The need is enormous and additional counselors must be hired. In Sderot, the situation is completely overwhelming
• EMUNAH has established a Hot Line that is receiving hundreds of calls every day from families requesting assistance. We need to increase the staff working the Hot Line, and give them funds so they can respond to requests for immediate emergency help.
• The children’s homes need to hire additional night counselors who are ready to rush the children to shelters and deal with their increased emotional needs. The Neve Landy Children’s Home in Even Shmuel—located right next to Ashkelon—is home to our most difficult and emotionally disabled children. They can’t be evacuated due to their special needs. In each children’s home we need at least 4 such counselors.
• We need a minimum of 3 extra caregivers in each of the day care centers in the center and the south of the country. We have 40 day care centers in these locations that are opened and closed according to the instructions of the Home Command. The costs each day keep adding up as the war progresses.
• New toys for the children in these day care centers and in the children’s homes would bring them some joy in this difficult situation. We have 2,000 children directly in the line of fire, and if we buy just one modest toy at a cost of $10 for each child, this already comes to $20,000.
These are extraordinary circumstances! Your donations now will enable us to pay for these additional costs.
Pease help our children and families in Israel now so we can provide them the comfort and security they need today. May Hashem bring peace to Israel quickly!
Karen Spitalnick Fran Hirmes
National President Chairman of the Board
|EMUNAH battles successfully for first female Kashrut supervisors in Israel
|For first time, women take Chief Rabbinate’s exam to become kashrut inspectors
Nine women take test; those who passed are eligible for hire by religious councils.
By Yair Ettinger | May 8, 2014 |
For the first time ever, women on Wednesday took the Chief Rabbinate’s exams to become kashrut inspectors. Chief Rabbi David Lau approved the move over the objections of council members. Emunah, the Orthodox women’s movement, which waged the battle to end the ban on women, called it “an achievement of historic significance.”
Nine women took the examination, and the rabbinate announced that any who passed the exam “would be eligible to be hired as kashrut inspectors by the religious councils across Israel.” The women, all graduates of Emunah’s kashrut supervision course, were tested in a separate room at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, next to a hall in which 200 men took the same exam.
The rabbinate’s exam board opened up the field to women not of its own initiative but rather in the wake of a 2013 High Court of Justice petition filed by Emunah. The court requested the rabbinate to allow 16 female graduates of Emunah’s course to be officially examined for licensing, with the prospect of working as kashrut inspectors in the religious councils.
About two weeks ago, a number of months after the rabbinate announced it was allowing women to take the exam, the court ruled that the matter had been resolved, and that “there is nothing left to prevent women, such as these, from serving as kashrut inspectors.”
The chief rabbinic council has debated the issue for over a year, going back to the tenure of the previous chief rabbi, Yona Metzger. The main opponent was Be’er Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri, who viewed authorizing women for the role as a “breach.” The chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, said he saw a “danger” if the army had to open kashrut inspection jobs to female soldiers.
However, Emunah was given a good chance of winning its case, especially since the petitioners had noted that the Oral Law deems women trustworthy in matters of kashrut, so nothing prevented them from doing the job. Lau adopted this petition at the beginning of the year, saying publicly in February: “There is a source in halakha that women can be kashrut inspectors.”
Avivit Ravia, a graduate of Emunah’s course who put her name on the petition, sat for the exam even though she already functions as a kashrut inspector for an alternative, private kashrut organization, where she plans to continue working even if she passes the rabbinate exam.
“They didn’t make it especially hard for us,” Ravia told Haaretz after the test. “On the contrary, rabbinate officials were very pleasant, friendly and smiling, and tried to help whoever was struggling.” She said the women received the same exam as the one given the men, as far as she could tell.
She added that the women taking the test ran the gamut of the religious spectrum, from women working in Haredi seminaries to Bar-Ilan University lecturers
|EMUNAH receives Honorary Doctorate from Bar Ilan University
|Bar-Ilan University to Award Honorary Doctorates to Nine Outstanding Individuals and Emunah
Emunah, National Religious Women\\'s Organization, winner of the Israel Prize, is being honored for its role in supporting youth education, advancing the status of women and strengthening the Jewish family. Since its establishment Emunah has developed into a movement which establishes kindergartens, day care centers, schools and children’s homes. Tens of thousands of religious youth are educated in its daycare centers, boarding schools and ulpanot. Many young adults serve within the Bat Ami National Service framework, while hundreds of women study at Emunah midrashot and training programs for qualifying family counselors. Thousands benefit from its counseling centers.
|Torah and Arts High School welcomes addition of Lillian Grossman Science Laboratory
|It was a moving experience as Dr. Larry Eisenberg, together with his daughter Elisheva, took part in the Dedication of the Lillian Grossman Science Laboratory that he established together with his wife, Maureen, and their family, in memory of Maureen’s mother. It was also a momentous occasion for this high school, a shining star in the EMUNAH educational network.
The award-winning Torah and Arts high school provides excellence in education in both Judaic studies, the arts, and secular studies. However, it was lacking a state of the art science facility. Now, due to the generosity of the Eisenberg family, the new Lillian Grossman Science Laboratory will allow the students to have the tools, technology and infrastructure they need to excel in the increasingly important world of science and technology.
Lillian Grossman was a Holocaust survivor, and knew only too well the importance of education. Dr. Eisenberg recalled a quote from his late mother-in-law, “Education-they can’t take that away from you.”
|A Surprise Dedication at the EMUNAH Appleman College.
There was a big surprise in store for Myrna Zisman during the Leadership Mission in February. At a stop at the EMUNAH Appleman College of Art, the group unveiled a new plaque announcing the generous dedication of the Myrna and Leibel a”h Zisman Center for Torah and Art Study, named for Myrna and her late husband. This dedication accurately reflects the heart and soul of the Zisman couple, a family for whom Torah study has always been of paramount importance. Myrna’s commitment to EMUNAH and its vision for the future of Israel is outstanding. The Myrna and Leibel a”h Zisman Center for Torah and Art Study will be a lasting legacy to the next generation, as it fosters the education of our youth, something so important to the Zismans.
|Fran and Simon A”H Laufer Holocaust Studies Library at the EMUNAH College
At the EMUNAH Appleman College of Art, Holocaust studies have always been of paramount importance. Now, through the generosity of Fran Laufer, the College boasts the Fran and Simon a”h Laufer Holocaust Studies Library. It is housed within the College main library, and has its own architecturally designed space for a vast collection of books, and a designated computer area and DVD viewing corner, with screen and headphones that will enable the students to view Holocaust related films. The Fran and Simon a”h Laufer Holocaust Studies Library is an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum at the college, allowing students to graduate with all the educational tools they need in their teachers’ training program in Jerusalem High Schools, as well as the personal enrichment of “Keeping the Memory Alive.”
|EMUNAH is AWARDED THE JERUSALEM PRIZE
|EMUNAH is awarded the
Jerusalem Prize recognizing its outstanding work for children and families at risk in Israel.
In a ceremony held on January 8th, the 10th Annual Jerusalem Conference honored EMUNAH with the Jerusalem Prize. Upon awarding the Prize the Committee stated;
\\"The Jerusalem Prize is being awarded to EMUNAH in recognition of the important work being done in all the EMUNAH children\\'s\\' homes and Emergency Shelters which provide a warm and therapeutic environment, educational and social services to hundreds and thousands of children at risk - on both a personal and family level.\\"
The award was given in recognition of the work being done at:
Achuzat Sarah- Bnei Brak
Bet Elazraki- Netanya
Neve Michael- Pardes Chana
Sarah Herzog- Afula
Neve Landy- Even Shmuel
Emergency Shelter for Infants and Children at Risk
Emergency Shelter for Young women at Risk
Emergency Shelter for Children at Risk.
Liora Minka, Chairwoman of EMUNAH Israel, accepted the award from Gideon Saar, Minister of Education, on behalf of the organization.
\\"EMUNAH\\'s children\\'s homes and emergency shelters exist to provide a warm home and a framework for therapeutic, educational and social growth, and to rescue them from a cycle of distress, both personal and family related, and give them the tools and the opportunity to integrate fully and equally into society,\\" she remarked.
|Bet Elazraki Summer Program
|Bet Elazraki Summer Program
Each summer, EMUNAH’s Bet Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya welcomes American high school and college students who volunteer their vacation time to work with the children at the Home. This is a unique experience for both the children and the volunteers. Lasting friendships are formed – connections not constrained by distance or time-- and the volunteers are afforded a profound perspective on the meaning of giving, sharing and caring for others. For the children, they feel that they have acquired an extended American family and look forward to future visits.
Michael Reidler, a Summer Program Director, described “graduation night” at the Home for all of the young men and women raised there who have joined the IDF or National Service. The event, attended by hundreds, inspired him to reflect on his reasons for his frequent returns to the Home and to the friends he made there. For the American volunteers, he concluded that “it is easier to believe in yourself when others believe in you.” For the residents of the Home, the message was relayed that they are not alone, that their family extends to our EMUNAH members in New Jersey, Florida, Arizona and California. Yasher koach to our volunteers!
|Sea of Galilee Gold Coin and EMUNAH
The Sea of Galilee Gold Coin
This year the Bank of Israel introduced a new 64th Anniversary Gold Coin called The Sea of Galilee, 2012/5772. The face value side of the coin was designed by Michal Hamawi, a graduate of the Charlotte and Harold Dachs School of Graphic Design in the EMUNAH Florence and Joseph Appleman College of Art in Jerusalem. Michal is a very successful graphic artist and has designed official posters for the government, Bank of Israel, newspapers and various advertising agencies. She has often stated that she feels she owes her success to the professionalism of the EMUNAH College which taught her all the skills she needed to succeed.
The theme side of the coin is designed by Meir Eshel, a senior lecturer in design at the Charlotte and Harold Dachs School of Graphic Design in the Appleman College of Art and renowned international artist. of Galillee 10 shekel coin that will be minted on Israels 64th Anniversary next week.
PIC OF COIN
Caption: Designer: Obverse (Face Value Side): Michal Hamawi.
Reverse (Theme Side): Meir Eshel.Obverse:
|Coming Full Circle
|Coming Full Circle
Ortal Sabat, was recently chosen as the most outstanding girl presently fulfilling her National Service commitment. Ortal, who is currently serving her second year at the EMUNAH Afula Home, is totally dedicated to the children living there. But perhaps what is the most powerful part of this honor afforded Ortal, is that she herself grew up at an EMUNAH children’s home -- Neve Michael Children’s Home in Pardes Chana. Rabbanit Vital Zioni, who works with the girls in National Service, stated that “She works tirelessly day and night and educates the children with unlimited love and devotion. Shlomo Kessel - the Director of Emunah Afula - noted that Ortal is very special and committed to her responsibilities. Ortal joined the National Service and personally chose to serve in the Emunah Afula Children’s Home, thus coming full circle.
Born in Israel to Ethiopian parents Ortal modestly stated that all she does is out of love for the children and that the prize is really theirs. “I only help them out of faith and love,” she said. Ortal received her prize at a moving event in Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem.
|A Safe Haven and a Home - Achuzat Sarah
|My mother said that the children at the Ora home came from \\"broken homes,\\" and that I should stop running there all the time. The neighbors felt the same way. But I was actually envious of the children in the institution, and I was sure that they were better off than I was.
Every day I passed by the spacious yard, in which there stood a one-story white house with a red tiled roof, a wooden hut and cypress trees, like in a painting. Children big and small played in the yard; those who were my age were good-looking, light on their feet and sure of themselves, exempt as they were from strict prohibitions and fear of parents. The counselor, Yitzhak - who occasionally came out to play with the children or call them inside - looked to me like a devoted big brother - another source of envy for a girl like me, one of four sisters.
On the Sabbath I heard them singing in the hut that served as dining room and synagogue. I saw the institution as an independent and flourishing nation state of children, one which I was never invited to join. After a while the institution was relocated to a distant neighborhood in Bnei Brak, and to my great chagrin I was separated from my first great love (an affair which had been limited to glances on my part and rounds on a bicycle on his), and I was left with the first wound to my young, tender heart.
Years later, as a mother and teacher, I was introduced the sweeping statement, \\"The worst home is preferable to the best children\\'s institution.\\" I recalled the Ora home, and reflected that whoever had said that did not know what a real children\\'s home was. At the same time I understood that the home, as it was engraved on my memory, was to a great extent a product of my own imagination, a utopian environment upon which I projected my own passions and pains.
Interest in children\\'s homes was sparked recently following much-reported row between the directors of children\\'s homes and the Minister of Social Affairs, a dispute that is inexplicable to nonprofessionals like me. How is such a confrontation possible - aren\\'t the directors and the ministry on the same side of the barricades? And what kind of barricade should there be at all when it comes to the needs of children?
These questions led to others: What is the nature of a children\\'s home in Israel in the 21st century? Is it an idyllic children\\'s island like A.S. Neill\\'s Summerhill School, or is it merely a shelter and a halfway house? Perhaps the institute of my imagination was not so far removed from the reality, and there are indeed still children\\'s states flourishing here and there?
I went to find out.
Blue-and-white flags flying high on the roof of Achuzat Sarah separate it from the Haredi institutions crowded around. The place is set apart from its immediate environment by its colorfulness and well-kept state. Passing behind the guard\\'s hut, a spacious yard decorated with foliage and flowers spread out before me. In front is a large, long house resembling a villa; to its left is a four-story building, and in the middle a residential building (home to the employees who live on the site, as I would later learn). At the far end of the area there is a substantial farmyard, shaded, clucking and bustling.
I enter, no longer the tempestuous girl that I once was, who yearned so much to be let in but remained outside. I see children of kindergarten, elementary school and high school ages. I see two sisters - one older and one younger - holding hands, and boys playing basketball. The children move from building to building, and answer my greetings with broad smiles.
In the basement of the new building, in an archive-like structure, a teenaged girl on National Service gathers a group of children to study geography. Scattered on the tables are Chinese lanterns made by the children themselves. I must once again remind myself that appearances can be deceptive, and behind the serene facade of the place there are innumerable stories that are anything but. There are 134 children living here, and every one has his or her own story.
Shmuel Ron, the director, has been living here for the past 30 years with his wife and four children. He leaves the children\\'s stories and life in the home for later in the visit, indulging instead his burning need to share his sense of fear with the visitor seated before him. \\"Without additional funds, the boarding schools in Israel are liable to collapse,\\" he warns. \\"The 7,000 children for whom the boarding school is their main residence will find themselves homeless.
\\"The government sends the children to us through welfare offices of local councils, and it is the government that determines the standards for their maintenance,\\" he explains. \\"It\\'s very good that the government enforces its standards, so that there won\\'t be a case where a private institution skimps on expenditure and lowers the level of services provided for the children. The fixed criteria include all the children\\'s needs - nutrition, clothing, living space, toilets and showers, books, private lessons, summer camps and more.\\"
But in the past five years it is getting harder and harder to meet the requirements of the Social Affairs Ministry: The budget the ministry grants to the boarding school is being eroded - expenses are rising, but a large part of the budget has not been reviewed for 20 years.
The basic cost per child is NIS 3,400 (approximately $1,000) per month. Employees\\' salaries and food account for most of the budget. There are 80 staff members working here - social workers, counselors, teachers, psychologists, girls on National Service, service providers and more. The basket also includes medical treatment and medicines, trips and summer camps, clothing and replacing old equipment, books and pocket money, enrichment courses, private lessons and special therapy.
\\"With every financial dilemma, I ask myself - \\'would I do that if this were my child?\\'\\" says Ron. \\"In other words, would I give my own child used clothing? The children arrive here with such low self esteem that I have to make sure not to damage it even further. We have children who take Ritalin - should I buy them, in the name of thrift, medications that are not as good, that are liable to cause side effects? Should I deny them music or swimming lessons?\\"
The example of the swimming lessons was particularly effective during a meeting between Minister of Welfare and Social Services Moshe Kahlon and the directors of the school.
\\"After drawn-out and frustrating appeals, which made us feel like beggars, we were about to stage a sit-in at the minister\\'s home,\\" says Ron. The directors were angry primarily over the fact that the conclusions of the committee for updating the benefits \\"baskets,\\" which were submitted two years ago, have still yet to be approved. The director-general of the ministry, the line of defense between supplicants and the minister, informed them that the conclusions would be implemented in \\"three steps,\\" in other words, within five years from the time the committee was established.
\\"What\\'s bothering you?\\" the minister asked them. Ron says, \\"I said, honorable minister, the sixth graders at my boarding school asked me to contribute NIS 580 for their graduation party. My budget is not even half that amount. What do you suggest? That they not attend the party? Another director told me, \\'What about swimming lessons in school? Don\\'t my children deserve to learn how to swim?\\'
\\"And then Kahlon said quietly, \\'I was a boy who have swimming lessons,\\' and we all sighed with relief, and knew that from now on, things would begin to move.\\"
And in fact the \\"three steps\\" were cancelled after the meeting and updating the baskets based on the committee\\'s recommendations was to become effective immediately. The minister also announced the establishment of a team to investigate and submit accurate findings regarding today\\'s costs of keeping a child in a boarding school. The school directors are calmer now. They know that Kahlon will fight their battle against the Finance Ministry officials. They still can\\'t relax, but there is room for cautious hope.
The \\"children\\'s homes\\" and boarding schools are non-profit, and the vast majority are linked to public associations, and supervised, educationally, socially and financially, by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services. Achutzat Sarah is supported by the national religious women\\'s organization Emunah. The Reut home, which we will discuss shortly, is partly financed and supervised by the ministry, but supported by the Orr Shalom association. The non-profit organizations are doing sacred work, and it\\'s impossible to imagine life in the boarding schools without them, but Ron complains that a large part of his time and that of his colleagues has in recent years been spent on fund-raising, instead of educational and administrative work.
Since the worldwide economic crisis hit there has been a large drop in donations, which, given the schools\\' dependence on them, has caused a great deal of emotional and physical stress. There is never any way of knowing if the donations will arrive in time and if they will suffice.
\\"I accept the idea that good people are giving, but I would be happy to use the donations for the extras - the cultural basket, enrichment courses - not for the basic basket,\\" says Ron, adding that he believes that this budget should include high-level private tutors as well.
Recently, due to financial problems, he was forced to dismiss a successful veteran teacher (whom he brought to the school daily, in order to ensure the progress of the children at the home). The boarding school children suffer from wide gaps in educational prowess: There are those who haven\\'t crossed the threshold of a school for two or three years, and there are those who sit in class and stare into space. Ron suggested having special class for newcomers at Achuzat Sarah with its own teachers, but this was rejected.
The school\\'s financial situation and the children\\'s educational problems are only part of the complex picture of a boarding school in modern day Israel. The problems that cause a director sleepless nights are too numerous and complicated to discuss in one article.
Shmuel Ron tells me about a private report, based on a professional questionnaire that every children\\'s home is required to submit about each child. The \\"threshold method,\\" as it is called, lists 14 categories indicating difficulties with studies, family, aggression, running away, neglect, theft, alcoholism, defective social functioning, depression and anxiety, sexual problems and more. This threshold creates a profile of each child, a kind of midyear and year-end report card both for the children and the institution.
\\"Unfortunately,\\" says Ron, \\"in almost every category there has been a deterioration in recent years. If 10 years ago I noted about 2 percent had sexual problems, now I have to refer to 23.1 percent. The problems of aggression have skyrocketed to 45 percent, and difficulties of anxiety and loss were diagnosed in 31.9 percent.\\"
I don\\'t know if this is the time to ask about the truth of the statement that the best institution is not as good as the worst home. Ron protests: \\"Our children have no family support. I\\'ve seen children who fled when they saw their parents come to visit.\\" He tells me stories that are too hair-raising to describe, and ends with a story that took place 29 years ago, and still moves him and me:
\\"It was Friday, shortly before Shabbat. All the children had gone home. I went to the nearby grocery store to do some last-minute shopping. The store owner told me, \\'Do you know, Ahuva was here before, she bought a challah for Shabbat.\\' That immediately sounded a warning bell. Ahuva? Challah? But her entire class, the ninth grade, went home for Shabbat! I didn\\'t have to search very much. She was in her room, under the blanket. \\'I didn\\'t want to go back home,\\' she cried, \\'but I didn\\'t want anyone to know that I have nowhere to go, so I rode for a few stops, got off and came back to the school. I bought a challah, so I\\'d have something to eat on Shabbat.\\' At that moment I decided that our boarding school wouldn\\'t close for even one day a year, including the summer vacation and Yom Kippur. Any child who wants to can stay here. That\\'s the real meaning of a home, isn\\'t it?\\"
\\"Children without family support,\\" is what Shmuel Ron calls his boarding school, and Roni Siboni, the director of the Orr Shalom Reut boarding school in Jerusalem, calls his children \\"children on the edge.\\" The usual term is \\"children at risk.\\" Like most boarding school pupils, these children were also removed from their homes by court order, but unlike them, they were kicked out of several other schools before arriving at Reut, which is considered the last refuge.
It is hard to believe and horrifying to learn that this school was recently on the verge of closure, and only after a great deal of effort was a compromise reached; instead of the evil decree, the number of children was reduced by four. The staff also expressed a desire to find a more spacious and more suitable place.
This is a \\"total\\" place, which includes an in-house school. The institute is relatively small - two modest buildings, one residential and the other for studies and supportive therapy, a crowded yard with a minimal playground, a medium-sized therapeutic garden and a farm of animals. There are 28 boys living here, in pleasant rooms full of paintings, board games, Lego structures and hobbies that attest to a \\"normal\\" children\\'s life.
The children I meet in the yard or on the iron steps don\\'t initiate a conversation with me. Their faces are closed, unsmiling. Roni, the director, explains that the atmosphere is particularly tense today. It is the eve of Shavuot, and the children who are about to go home are afraid of what is awaiting them in the coming days. There will be children who won\\'t eat and won\\'t wash, and worse. Some will be returning to the home from which they were removed due to harm and abuse, and they are almost certain to meet neighbors and friends who will try to exploit them for criminal purposes.
They are always torn between the longing to return home and the fear and withdrawal from it. \\"Here they have quiet, order, everything they need, warmth and concern,\\" says Siboni. \\"One boy fell out of bed before going home and broke his hand, thereby conveying to us that home is a dangerous place for him. Our home is open, and if there\\'s a boy who doesn\\'t want to go home, he has a place to stay. In one case, it took us time until we understood the extent of the sexual danger to which one of the boys was exposed during his visits. We kept him with us for a long time, and when we sent him home we had him accompanied by a social worker.\\"
What\\'s the first thing you do with a new child?
\\"First of all, we wrap him in a secure network. The routine here is a means of dispelling anxiety and fear. Every child has a permanent bed in a fixed room, with another three children. Every child knows where his place is in the dining room, where the chair with his name is. The weekly menu is fixed, the daily schedule is fixed - the time for showering, meals. Every week the swimming pool is on Tuesday, there are studies and conversations with the therapists on the site, computer games and ping pong, enrichment courses. Our staff numbers 50 people - social workers, counselors, teachers, psychologists, National Service girls - each of them is instructed and trained to place the child at the center. We don\\'t have an order here that \\"cursing is forbidden,\\" for example, after all, that\\'s what the child is familiar with, but over time, the stability, the quiet and the space that we provide distance him from everything he knew in his previous life - beatings, curses, thefts, sexual abuse.
\\"When a child behaves violently, we tell him, \\'With your behavior you\\'re telling us a story. Let\\'s try to understand that story,\\'\\" adds Siboni. \\"Each one of our children has experienced harm in his early development, and for the most part it is irreversible. For every child, the therapy is a project that lasts four to five years. We accept the child as he is. We don\\'t punish and we don\\'t issue conditions. Slowly but surely he learns a new, inner language. He learns to know himself. We try to give him tools for normative behavior in the future, by building up what we call \\'ego strengths.\\'\\"
Now a group is organizing itself for a soccer game in the playground. The counselor and the children are running around enthusiastically on the narrow area and for a moment it looks as though the tension has evaporated and been forgotten. The director tells me that every child is permitted to choose \\"his\\" counselor from among the staff, a person he believes in and trusts, and he creates a positive dependence on him, instead of the parents. To these children the world is a hurtful, threatening place, that cannot be trusted.
\\"Some of them react with aggression, with hyperactivity, with an inability to stand in line, for example, with a low threshold of self-restraint. One child cut himself with a knife deliberately. The next day, after he shattered the windows, broke the television and turned the room upside down, he threatened to take out his stitches. The counselor tried unsuccessfully to prevent that. In extreme cases such as this, when the child is diagnosed as a danger to himself and his surroundings, and his anger cannot be managed, the counselors use the \\"holding\\" method, which is learned in a special center and is usually done with two people. Quite often a child who expresses his anger and almost stretches things to the limit, calms down after being \\"held\\" and almost miraculously enters a stable and positive path.
It seems that in Reut, every child is protected and embraced as never before. But here too there are no easy solutions. The adult world with which the Reut children were familiar before their arrival is replaced by a gentle world that accepts them without anger or punishment, but this contradiction actually creates a strong dissonance within them, at least at first. Now they have to \\"kill\\" the parents who remain at home, symbolically of course. They are so confused that they project their anger and frustration on the counselors, discover their weak points and exploit them in order to anger, mock and disturb.
One of the children, the son of a too-young mother and a disappearing drug-addict father, outdid himself. He often fled to his mother in order to force her to show responsibility and motherliness, but at the same time extorted money from her. The entire staff came to his rescue, but his personal counselor was at the end of his rope. He gave the school an ultimatum: \\"Either me or the child.\\"
\\"We\\'re keeping the child here until the process is completed,\\" decided the director, and to the child he said: \\"I know that you\\'re suffering, but you know that if you leave this place, you\\'ll end up in an institution for young criminals. Try to hold out, to complete at least one educational framework.\\" That boy is now one of the school\\'s success stories.
To work in such a place requires a kind of dedication, an ability to contain and understand, and a high level of giving. \\"There are children whom we literally spoon-feed during the first period after their arrival,\\" says Siboni. \\"They are in need of contact, of cradling. A child who was adopted in Romania at the age of two came to us with behavioral problems and incontinence. He didn\\'t smile and he didn\\'t speak. After six months he smiled for the first time, he started to talk and today he\\'s a sociable, athletic and healthy young man.\\"
I ask Siboni the same question, which now sounds totally superfluous to my ears, about the worst home being preferable to the best institution. To my surprise, he reveals empathy towards the parents, a gentleness whose existence I hadn\\'t suspected.
\\"They also experienced early damage, which they carry with them all their lives. Nobody identified their damage, and if they did, they didn\\'t treat it. When parents come here we want to give them a positive experience, teach them how to be parents, bring them close to their children. There\\'s a games room here where parents and children sit and play together. Some come to visit and ask us to find work for them here.\\"
Isn\\'t it discouraging, the Sisyphean nature of the work, the fear that the damage will never be healed, that it will pass from one generation to the next, until the end of time?
\\"Discouragement is not in our lexicon,\\" he replies with a brave but sad smile. \\"There\\'s no total repair. Our working assumption is that the scar will always remain, but who in our society isn\\'t scarred? What\\'s important is that the children grow up and are able to live a good life, to cope and be useful to society. And first and foremost, you have to remember that they gained their lives here.\\"
|Emunah College Graduate has her own Show
|Rivka Yaffe, a graduate of the Harry and Bina Appleman School of Fine Art at the Emunah Appleman College was recently invited by Hadassah Hospital to hold a one man exhibition of her impressive paper cuts at their Mount Scopus Campus.
Rivka\\'s creations portray the return of the Jewish people to their land up to the present day. They capture the complex intermingling of the joy of redemption with the sorrows that herald the coming of messianic times as well as the anticipation for world peace and the building of the third Temple.
|EVO Race for a Cure
|EMUNAH V’Omanut Girls join Race for a Cure in Jerusalem
The historic first ever Race for the Cure 5k run/fitness walk to be held in Israel was a wonderful opportunity for the girls attending the EMUNAH V’Omanut, EMUNAH’s post high school art and music program in Jerusalem, to perform acts of chesed for the women in the community and beyond. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, which raises funds to eradicate breast cancer and to assist those suffering with the disease, was held around the walls of Old Jerusalem with Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, acting as host. This is an international event, with 140 races around the world, celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month held every October, but it was the first time the event was held in the Jewish State.
Despite the intense heat of the day, the EVO girls participated with “matzav ruach” – a special enthusiasm and spirit for this important cause. Debbie Siman-Tov, EMUNAH of America Israel representative joined the girls for the Race, and members of the EVO staff, Rivi Frankel Meira and Michael Brandwein helped coordinate EVO’s participation.
Students who are studying in this innovative EMUNAH program, headed by Rabbi David Debow, spend a sizeable portion of their time in Israel devoted to acts of charity and kindness for others. It is considered an integral part of the EVO program and vital to the development of character and intrinsic to a Jewish way of life.
|EMUNAH Awarded Prestigious Israel Prize for 2008
|In what is the highest recognition any Israeli individual or organization can aspire to, EMUNAH has been named a winner of the prestigious Israel Prize 2008. This distinguished award was established to recognize those who have made major contributions to Israeli society. In winning the award, the committee recognizes EMUNAH for its lifetime achievements and vital role in humanitarian, social, cultural and educational services.
Presented at a State ceremony, the Israel Prize (Pras Yisrael) award ceremony is the occasion that closes the Independence Day events each year. The entire leadership of the country comes to pay their respects to the winners of this, the most official prize awarded by the State. Adding extra significance to the award this year, is the presentation on the occasion of Israel’s 60th Anniversary
Minister of Education Prof. Yuli Tamir informed EMUNAH Israel Chairperson, Liora Minka, of the selection of EMUNAH as a recipient of the award. “It is a tremendous source of pride to our organization which has been on the forefront of meeting the needs of the Israeli people for over 70 years,” said Minka. “EMUNAH’s activities center on education and social welfare, strengthening the family unit, and cultural and chesed programs, but our role goes further. We respond immediately to any emergency, any crisis, facing the Israeli people.”
Three major women’s organizations; EMUNAH, WIZO and Na’amat, are being given awards this year. All three organizations are being lauded for working together in their common goals of advancing social, cultural and educational issues.
Over 10,000 children from all walks of life are cared for and educated in EMUNAH’s educational network, which includes 135 day care centers and multi-purpose day care centers, 5 children’s residential homes, crises and emergency centers for children at immediate risk, 6 high schools, the EMUNAH College of Art & Technology, 13 family Counseling Centers (with the last recently opened in Sderot), Batei Midrash and Community Centers for women’s issues.