Neve Hanna, AEPi and SACHI making a difference in the community!

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AEPi

KIRYAT GAT, ISRAEL, September 2019 – As part of the Rosh HaShana Mitzvah, members of AEPi, AFNH patrons, Heddy Belman and husband, Michael, together with the staff and young leadership at Neve Hanna Children’s Home, participated in the SACHI Program. Together they helped make a difference for dozens of needy families.

k640_whatsapp-image-2019-10-02-at-20.17.19-1-e1570372591908.jpgAs part of the SACHI Program, participants help supply groceries to families in need.  They take care of all the logistics and the planning, the purchase, the packing of the parcels with basic food supplies as well as the distribution. Over major holidays, like Rosh HaShana and Passover, they begin a much bigger campaign, encouraging participation of the other children, as well as the staff of Neve Hanna.  Through donations and packing for such holidays, they supply about 120 families.

SACHI (Sayeret Chesed Yechudit – Teenage Welfare Club) began at Neve Hanna Children’s Home in Kiryat Gat, thanks to the initiative of a staff member.  SACHI later expanded and became a nationwide youth movement with the founding branch at Neve Hanna.

Neve Hanna, AEPi and SACHI together changing many lives!  Go to http://www.afnevehanna.org and learn more about all the remarkable programs and projects we continue to accomplish!

Heddy Belman To Be Honored

Heddy BelmanAmerican Friends of Neve Hanna honors Heddy Belman on November 17th at Pine Brook Jewish Center, New Jersey. 

Heddy Belman is a valued member of the Board of American Friends of Neve Hanna. She serves as the Chair of the Development Committee working diligently to engage Foundations and obtain Grants to support programs needed for the children of Neve Hanna.

She was born in Quito, Ecuador, to wonderful parents who were survivors from Rumania. My parents journey, with the help from an aunt and uncle, in America, took them from Bucharest to Paris to Equator, because the US was not excepting such immigrants at the time.

Dad z’l was a lawyer in Europe with a doctorate in political science, and her Mom z’l studied medicine.  Each had to adjust and reinvent themselves a few times and on a few continents before ultimately coming to America.  Facing many challenges along their way, their main mission in life was to make her life beautiful.

As a result of their examples, Heddy did well in school and graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in linguistics and education. She worked and taught in the business world successfully and raised a beautiful family, with her awesome husband Michael. They continue to fill their lives with love, pride, joy and gratitude!!!

Throughout her American journey, Heddy has always treasured her involvement in the Jewish community. After joining Pine Brook Jewish Center in 1985, she served on many committees in varying capacities. She is also a Board member of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, AZM, MercazUSA and served as a delegate to the last WZO Congress.

During a recent trip to Israel, Heddy and Michael visited Neve Hanna in Kiryat Gat and saw how the Children’s Home provides love and support to children from disadvantaged homes. Over decades, it has literally changed children’s lives and helped raise them to be productive, loving and successful adults.

AFNH recognizes and honors Heddy and looks forward to many years of friendship and service.

 

 

Bat Mitzvah Experience Shared

Kiryat Gat, Israel, July 2019 – Co-Presidents, Janet and Irwin Tobin, spent an incredible day with Rabbi Liron Levy and our four Bat Mitzvah girls, Diana, Inbal, Tair, Oren and May, the Israeli volunteer, who was also Bat Mitzved.  They chatted all morning and the girls spoke freely about their families, what it means to become a Bat Mitzvah and their future dreams and the wonderful year they completed studying with Rabbi Liron.

Their Bat Mitzvah discussions centered around how they could remain a child while start taking on responsibilities of adulthood. Rabbi Liron stressed that they should choose a mission most important to them and incorporate it into their lives, adding more responsibilities within time.

The girls started with awareness and caring for others– being especially conscious, making sure that they treat their flat mates and each other respectfully. This expanded to include others that are different from themselves to better understand other perspectives. They are being attentive to a young man, with special needs, that was hired to work at the Petting Zoo and the in-house bakery. They expanded their horizons by visiting a Druze community and met Israelis that are not Jews. They also interacted with a group of blind people and were astounded to learn how well they function with everyday life.

The girls enjoyed talking and telling Janet and Irwin that if they put their hearts along with much effort and education, they could achieve their dreams. One girl wants to become a Veterinarian. She loves working with the animals and now that she became a Bat Mitzvah, she is permitted to work at the Petting Zoo. Another wants to be a doctor, another a kindergarten teacher and a soccer player. They included Janet and Irwin in the discussions, wanting to know how they met and all about their children, grand and great-grandchildren.

Upon completion of their year of study, they excitedly recapped many celebrations – parties and trips. Last February, a trip to Mt. Hermon, where they saw snow for the first time and even enjoyed one of the simplest pleasures, making and eating snowcones with juice. Followed with dinner at a Rosh Pina restaurant ordering whatever their hearts desired. In July, the finale, a trip to Eliat to swim with the dolphins.

For their Bat Mitzvah gift to Neve Hanna, the girls requested making ceramic clocks for each of the flats. This was inspired by their love of making mezuzahs (Hiddur Mitzvah Project) last year.

The girls requested that Janet and Irwin attend the Bat Mitzvah rehearsal, for the ceremony, that took place July 11 at the Egalitarian section of the Kotel. They also practiced their song and dance that they will preform at their Bat Mitzvah luncheon party.

The day Janet and Irwin spent with these very special Bat Mitzvah girls was one of the best days they ever had on a visit to Neve Hannah – just tops. Their expressions of joy and excitement, for the present and future, is an experience Janet and Irwin will never forget and continue to talk about way into the future.

Cameron Fields, Young Leadership Chair

When Cameron Fields was given the opportunity to intern this summer at American Friends of Neve Hanna (AFNH), as our Young Leadership Chair, she practically jumped at the offer.  Giving these children, from disadvantaged homes, a stable home where they are loved, given proper nutrition, work experience and lifelong friendships is something truly special.  Having this opportunity to spread awareness about Neve Hanna and the amazing things they do, was something very exciting and important to Cameron.

As the Young Leadership Chair, Cameron’s main goal is to inform her family, friends and community about what Neve Hanna does, and the important impact they make on children’s lives. Cameron raises awareness about Neve Hanna through social media and teaches at USY (United Synagogue Youth) convention study sessions.  She has been getting the word out to her community, that everyone should become more involved and support the Neve Hanna family.

In January 2019, Cameron had the remarkable opportunity to visit the Neve Hanna Children’s Home with her family.

Cameron writes:

The minute our bus pulled up to Neve Hanna’s campus, I could feel the love that Neve Hanna radiated. From visiting the Petting Zoo, attending a class with Rabba Liron Levy, followed by a delicious lunch, I began to discover what Neve Hanna was all about.  We ended our day by playing a family basketball game and we all had a blast.

Cameron is an active member of USY and has been involved in Kadima (USY’s program for pre-teens). She has served on the Freshman Leadership Committee and the Religion Education Regional Board.  For the past four summers, Cameron spent a month at Ramah in the Rockies.  At camp, she was a member of the Jewish Outdoor Leadership Institute (JOLI), where she was Wilderness First Aid certified and was able to lead study sessions and be a CIT (Counselor in Training).

American Friends of Neve Hanna is pleased and proud to have Cameron Fields a part of the Neve Hanna family.  Thank you Cameron for all you do. Together, we are changing children’s lives.

Go to http://www.afnevehanna.org to learn more about all the remarkable programs and projects we continue to accomplish.

SACHI Program: Nationwide Youth Movement

SACHI (Sayeret Chesed Yechudit – Teenage Welfare Club) began at Neve Hanna Children’s Home in Kiryat Gat, thanks to the initiative of a staff member.  SACHI later expanded and became a nationwide youth movement with the founding branch at Neve Hanna.  At the AIPAC Policy Conference last March, the SACHI Program was featured as a new innovative program at the beginning of one of the plenary sessions.

Teenagers from the age of 13 years on, can join SACHI, operating according to the motto:  The best thing in the world is to do good deeds for others.  The teenagers of Neve Hanna, who are usually at the receiving side, are learning about the other side—giving.

Teenagers joining, have to commit to social and welfare activities, setting examples of social activism, tolerance, mutual respect, giving and sharing as well as friendship.  Through the SACHI activities, the teens from disadvantaged backgrounds, learn more about young leadership qualities.

Currently, 15 Neve Hanna teens are involved in SACHI.  The participants meet twice weekly for educational and social purposes, as well as for fun activities intended to strengthen group dynamics.  What began with seven teens in Kiryat Gat, now encompasses approximately 400 teenagers in 15 clubs throughout several cities in Israel.

As part of the SACHI program, the participants help supply approximately a dozen needy families in Kiryat Gat, with groceries.  They take care of all the logistics and the planning, the purchase, the packing of the parcels with basic food supplies as well as the distribution. Over major holidays, like Rosh HaShana and Passover, they begin a much bigger campaign, encouraging participation of the other children, as well as the staff of Neve Hanna.  Through donations and packing for such holidays, they supply about 120 families in need.

SACHI youth also help people with disabilities, the elderly, the downtrodden and Holocaust survivors with shopping, chores and home repairs. They visit hospitals and nursing homes.

Neve Hanna Children’s Home is helping make a difference in the lives of others, the surrounding community and changing the world.  Go to http://www.afnevehanna.org to learn more about all our remarkable programs and projects. You too can be a part of the movement.

My Visit at Neve Hanna

 

By Cameron Fields

January 20, 2019, I had the opportunity and privilege to be able to visit Neve Hanna, in Kiryat Gat. The minute our bus pulled up to Neve Hanna’s campus, I could feel the love that Neve Hanna radiated. As I stepped off the bus and looked around, I could see why it feels like home for so many children. Neve Hanna made intimidating, unwelcoming structures, which could have been gloomy and scary, into a place with an incredible aura of welcoming.  The Neve Hanna campus is very beautiful, with flowers blooming everywhere, and beautiful works of art. The atmosphere immediately felt warm and IMG_3145welcoming, giving you a giant hug of security, like Neve Hanna does for so many Israeli children.

We first headed to the petting zoo, which I absolutely loved. I love animals of all kinds and being around the animals and being able to interact with them, was so much fun. I got to hold one of the lizards, and fed the baby goat, who was undeniably adorable. I also got to see the pony who was very cute, and I fell in love with the rabbits. I kept on thinking how great it was that children living on the campus that Neve Hanna provides for them, have the opportunity to take care, and love these animals, and make kesharim, connections, with other works of God.

Next, we walked to the synagogue at Neve Hanna, where Rabbi Liron Levy taught us about the VeAhavta paragraph of the Shema. We broke down the words of the Shema, to see what body parts the prayer was referring to. It was a truly educational experience that I don’t think I will ever forget. After the teaching, we moved into lunch.  We had a delicious meal filled with a lot of high protein foods, that helped contribute to a great diet. Neve Hanna provides their children with great food and meals, so that they learn to eat and live a healthy lifestyle.

Lastly, we ended our tour, by visiting the bakery, where we had heard so much about the amazing opportunity this bakery provides for the children at Neve Hanna. We learned all about how the children work at the bakery and learn to earn and save money. The bakery was extremely interesting to hear about, and they produced very tasty treats. I actually brought home some babka for my friends at home, and they could not stop talking about how delicious it was! We then ended our day playing on Neve Hanna’s huge basketball court, where I played a very fun and exciting basketball game with my cousins, brothers, dad, and aunt.

When our tour guide told us it was time to get on the bus to head to our next location on the trip, I honestly did not want to leave. I loved being at Neve Hanna, and their campus is one of the img_3322-1.jpgmost beautiful places I’ve ever been to.  Learning about the amount of opportunities and skills that Neve Hanna provides for these children is truly heartwarming. I think that what Neve Hanna is doing is something spectacular. Giving these children a home where they are loved, given proper nutrition, work experience, and lifelong friendships is something truly special. Neve Hanna will always have a special place in my heart, and I fell in love with everything this organization does for Israeli children. I had an amazing time visiting Neve Hanna, and I cannot wait to visit there again soon! 

 

 

 

The Art Of The Scribe

With great joy, American Friends of Neve Hanna launched the Neve Hanna Torah Project on May 28, 2019. Rabbi Liron Levy of Neve Hanna and Sofer Rabbi Hanna Klabanksy will be leading the workshops at the Neve Hanna Children’s Home, working with the children and staff, on the writing of a Sephardic Torah scroll for the children of Neve Hanna.

With that in mind, there are three basic skills necessary for a scribe. The first is simply the ability to write the letters over and over.  There are very few strokes involved, but constantly writing them ensures that the aleph in Brayshit at the beginning of the Torah looks exactly like the aleph in Yisrael at its end.

The second skill is knowing all the laws, and for every letter, there are twenty to thirty laws that regulate how it is written.  The third skill is the most difficult.  When a sofer sits down to write, he/she must have emunah, a complete faith, that as he/she writes their letters, they are linked to God.  If he/she doesn’t have that concentration when he/she is writing any one letter, the entire sefer Torah is considered not kasher, not usable. This is not an easy task.

When a sofer has mastered these skills, he/she begins to use the traditional tools of parchment, ink and writing implement.  Everything must be from a kosher animal or a kosher substance.

For the writing implement, if you had lived in Europe, you would have used goose feathers.  If you lived in Yemen or Morocco, where there were no geese, you would have used a sharpened bamboo shoot.

The second item is the parchment, the klaf.  We use only the finest parchment from very young or unborn calves.

The ink for the Torah has three basic ingredients:  afatzim, the tannic acid produced from blackened oak leaves in which wasps have made their nests; a gum base which makes the ink stretch so the letters don’t crack; and magnesium.  All the ingredients are natural and the ink must be very black.

With these basic tools, the sofer is ready.  Because a sefer Torah has to be written meticulously, each column takes 4 to five hours of painstaking work.  When the sofer finishes one column, it is enough for the day.   In this way, over a year, he/she can complete a full Torah.

Writing a Torah from beginning to end is an experience that is very hard to describe.  It is best understood by combining the first and last letter of that Torah.  The first letter is bet, and the last letter is lamed.  Together they spell layv or heart. All of B’nai Israel have one layv; the Torah is the heart of the people.   It’s our source; it’s where we get our strength.