Our Past and Our Future
Neve Hanna was established in 1973 under the dynamic leadership of Hanni Ullman. Hanni was a veteran Israeli educator and recipient of the prestigious Presidents Award for Volunteerism. Neve Hanna is named for Hanna Kaplan, a Holocaust survivor who bequeathed money to Hanni to create a family-style home for children in distress. David “Dudu” Weger, originally a special education teacher and artist, has served as director since 1981. Hanni and Dudu’s experience and enthusiasm and the dedication of the staff are important elements of Neve Hanna’s success.
At the American Friends of Neve Hanna, we raise funds to maintain and develop the campus, fund birthday parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, provide new clothing, holiday outings, psychological services, social workers, special tutors and religious instruction. American Friends of Neve Hanna provide for the services of Rabbi Leron Levy to educate the children in their spiritual development.
What Happens to the Kids That Fall Between the Cracks of Israeli Society?
For over 40 years, Neve Hanna Children’s Home in Kiryat Gat, Israel has provided a loving home for children from highly dysfunctional families in the south of Israel. They are the children of Russian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern immigrants and native-born Israelis. By providing a nurturing and supportive family environment, Neve Hanna offers these young people the chance to grow beyond the circumstances from which they emerged. Hundreds of children have attended Neve Hanna. Many go onto build successful careers and raise healthy families. Long affiliated with the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel, Neve Hanna aims to instill in its children a sense of self-worth and an attachment to Jewish tradition and values.
How is this done?
Visitors to Neve Hanna often note the care and attention given to each child, the recognition of individual needs and challenges, and the abundance of smiling faces. Neve Hanna is a loving home where approximately eighty children, ages 4 to 18, are in full time residence. They live in apartments of 10-12 children supervised by a male counselor and house mother. Each apartment includes a kitchenette, dining area, living room, sleeping quarters, and a computer area. Each group functions as a family; staff and children prepare meals together, go over school assignments, relax, and play. Additional students who cannot be accommodated in the overnight facilities participate in an innovative day care program in the Gloria and Sidney Danziger Family Building. These children arrive after school to receive a hot meal, help with homework, and enrichment activities before returning to their families for the evening.
Many of the children at Neve Hanna have special needs:
» No one ever read to “Benny” before he came to Neve Hanna. Now in fifth grade, he needs special help with reading; Neve Hanna provides a tutor twice a week.
» “Dana” carries the emotional scars of abuse as a young girl; a psychologist works with her on a regular basis.
» Many children help care for the animals at Neve Hanna’s petting zoo, the only one in the area. Here, they learn about responsibility and nurturing.
» Older children participate in a vocational training program at Neve Hanna, a bakery specializing in fine European-style breads.