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!

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.

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! 

 

 

 

Neve Hanna Launches The Torah Project!

Torah logo

New York, May 28, 2019 – American Friends of Neve Hanna (AFNH), the non-profit organization for the Neve Hanna Children’s Home in Israel, launches The Torah Project, an exciting two year project involving a world wide fundraising campaign and interactive educational workshops for the children.  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.

The beauty of this project is that everyone can participate.  There is something for everyone.  You can join by sponsoring letters, words, names, or various segments of the text.   The special significance of writing a Torah, is that every ot (letter), milah (word), pasuk (verse), parashah (weekly portion), sefer (book), and shem (name) in the Torah will be sponsored by the friends of the Children of Neve Hanna.  The children will proudly be able to study, read from and carry their own Sefer Torah.  The finished Sefer Torah will be used for the first time at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony at the Egalitarian section of the Western Wall, Israel, June 2021.  All donors and sponsors will be invited to celebrate a Siyum HaTorah.

Neve Hanna hopes that each and everyone will participate in this joyous and monumental project and gift of love that is handed down from our ancestors as a means of preserving our precious tradition.  The Torah will be American Friends of Neve Hanna’s gift of love, enabling each of us to transmit our precious heritage to the children.

Neve Hanna Children’s Home is changing children’s lives.  You can too by being a part of the Torah Project.  To learn more about this remarkable project and to participate in this unique opportunity, go to http://www.afnevehanna.org/torah-project.

 

 

 

Celebrate Jewish Heritage Month

Visit a Jewish museum or a site of historical Jewish interest. Visit a Jewish museum, a Holocaust memorial museum, New York City’s Tenement Museum…the list goes on, and nearly all of these museums offer online experiences and exhibits, too. You can also visit an historic synagogue for a look at your local Jewish history.

Eat something Jewish. Whip up your bubbe’s favorite recipe! Not a big cook? Have lunch at your local Jewish delicatessen. What’s more Jewish-American than corned beef on rye and don’t forget the pickle!

Read something Jewish. Whether you choose a book about religion, about the Jewish American experience, or just something written by an American Jew, there’s plenty to choose from.

Research your family’s history. Try to determine when the first members of your family immigrated to America, then create a family tree for future family members to cherish. Take it a step further by recording an interview with your oldest living relatives to create a digital history of your family’s Jewish history.

Watch something Jewish. Choose a film about the Jewish-American experience, or tune into something by Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, J.J. Abrams, or another favorite Jewish director.

Raise your voice, Jewishly. As Jews in a democratic society, we have the privilege and the responsibility to make our voices and views heard on ethical and moral matters. Get involved in Jewish social justice work on a national scale.

Become a member of a synagogue. What better way to show your commitment to American Judaism than by joining a congregation?

Support your favorite Jewish organization. Do your part to further and strengthen the work of the Jewish people by making a one-time or recurring contribution to a Jewish nonprofit that’s near to your heart.  May we recommend Neve Hanna Children’s Home at http://www.afnevehanna.org  (hint, hint)  

How are you, your family and friends celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month? Let us know in the comments below.

 

B'nai Mitzvah

L’Chaim! To Life!

With the passing holidays of Purim and Pesach, we now take this opportunity to check in with ourselves, reflect, set some goals and take stock of what’s coming up in the months ahead.  It is also a time to remind ourselves to live a happier, healthier and more meaningful life.  This is a philosophy we teach to ourselves and to our Children at Neve Hanna.

Here are some quotes and philosophy to ponder on.

A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” – King Solomon, Proverbs, 24:16.

Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you’ve fallen down.

“If you don’t know what you’re living for, you haven’t yet lived.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg, of blessed memory

Life is the most precious thing we have. Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. But we are so busy ‘living’ that we don’t have a moment to really think about living.

“A righteous man falls down seven times and gets up.” – King Solomon, Proverbs, 24:16.

Life is all about the ability to get up from challenge. Greatness is defined as getting up one more time than what you’ve fallen down.

“I don’t speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent” – Rabbi A.Y. Kook

This quote embodies the depth of love every Jew needs to feel for another. The connection between Jews is instinctive, therefore one has no choice but to speak.

“People often avoid making decisions out of fear of making a mistake. Actually the failure to make decisions is one of life’s biggest mistakes.” – Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

This quote inspires me to keep taking the risks I need in order to grow.

“There are no problems, only opportunities for growth.” – Rebbetzin Dena Weinberg

Words are powerful; as soon as you re-frame from “problem” to “opportunity,” you pull down the covers, get out of bed, pull up your boot straps and rise to the occasion. No one wants problems, but who doesn’t want opportunities?

“Torah is not education, it’s transformation.” – Rebbitzen Dena Weinberg

If you are just learning Torah for the education and not growing and transforming yourself, you are not really learning Torah.

And my personal favorite… “L’Chaim!” – a traditional Jewish toast.

Jews appreciate every moment of life. It doesn’t matter if things are going the way you want them, stop and pause, and raise your glass to the delicious opportunity life is giving you right now. You’ll never get that moment back again.

How do you live a healthier, happier and more meaningful life — emotionally, spiritually and physically? Please write us or leave a comment.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

Bucket List Travel Destination Fulfilled: A Visit to Neve Hanna in Kiryat Gat, Israel By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields Executive Director, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

Coby and JanetMany people have different places on their bucket list to visit when travelling to Israel, and mine has always been Neve Hanna in Kiryat Gat, established in 1973 under the dynamic leadership of Hanni Ullman, a veteran Israeli educator and recipient of the prestigious President’s 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. During our recent trip to Israel for Coby Dov’s Bar Mitzvah, I was privileged to mark one of those bucket list destinations off my list – and it will definitely be a repeated place to visit in the future! Since I was a teenager, I have always wanted to visit Neve Hanna, because my Rabbi, Rabbi Benjamin Z. Kreitman, one of the greatest influences in my life, always described it as a magical place that transformed people’s lives and recognized each individual’s needs and challenges. The pictures he showed me were of children with smiling faces, clearly loving their current home. I knew that this would be a perfect place to visit on our Coby Dov Bar Mitzvah mission! Rabbi Kreitman, the Founding President of American Friends of Neve Hanna, never stopped talking about the children who lived at Neve Hanna, who were removed from their homes due to physical and psychological violence, neglect, and sexual abuse, and now live in family-like units grouped according to age. On our recent visit, we were able to see one of the four family-like units, but the approximately 80 children who live there, between the ages of 6 to 18, were all in school. I can say, their rooms were incredibly neat! After school, an additional 45 children come to Neve Hanna for their day care programs and return home every night. One of these programs is a joint Jewish-Bedouin program.

Coby Dov Bar MitzvahRabbi Kreitman praised Neve Hanna for being a warm, loving home environment for the children, which offers support, assistance, guidance and care. During our recent visit, this warmth was definitely conveyed – from the minute we stepped off our tour bus, to the Facebook comments I receive from Rabbi Liron Levy, the rabbi at Neve Hanna, to the delicious cookies we received from their in-house bakery. The in-house bakery, Yeladudes Bakery, teaches children the values of work and imparts to them useful life skills, such as ethics and business management. The children at Neve Hanna learn the art of baking and marketing delicious specialty breads, cakes, and cookies, which are in demand in the dining rooms of Israeli corporations, sold in malls, and served on El Al flights. At Neve Hanna, this is just one way that children are able to grow up to become self-confident and independent adolescents and young adults. Neve Hanna provides group programs and therapies, with the goal of rehabilitating severely traumatized children, empowering them and promoting their educational and social development, while imparting to them the tools to build successful, independent, self-sufficient future lives. All of them receive individual counseling, including art, dance, and animal therapy. Many of the teenagers help run their family units and take responsibility for setting goals and budgets, even earning and saving money for activities like concerts, movies, and trips.

Antje, Janet, Rabbi Wolintz and Rabbi LevyNeve Hanna is recognized under the Masorti Movement as a Kehilla: a loving home in the Jewish Community. Kehilla means community, and that is exactly what Neve Hanna is: a warm community that inspires growth. The children at Neve Hanna are taught Jewish values. They say their prayers before and after meals, join the Shabbat and holiday services, learn about Jewish heritage and tradition, and each one celebrates their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Rabbi Liron Levy, a graduate of the Schechter Institutes, is employed at Neve Hanna, and prepares the children for the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration, an important event with many guests who join the children’s celebration. While we were at Neve Hanna, one of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the petting zoo, where twelve of us in my group got to hold some of the animals – the brave amongst my group! But one activity that all twelve of us participated in, besides the delicious lunch Neve Hanna provided, was a lesson taught by Rabbi Liron Levy about what parts of the body are used to follow the words conveyed in the first paragraph of the Shema. Everyone participated in this lesson and enjoyed their learning. The greatest part of the lesson was having the current co-Presidents of American Friends of Neve Hanna, our own Women’s League past International President Janet Tobin and her husband, Irwin Tobin, join us for the lesson, a special presentation Rabbi Levy made to Coby, our candy-throwing to Coby, and our delicious lunch. Rabbi Kreitman, of blessed memory, was right – Neve Hanna is a magical place. The animals exude love the minute you see them, and the people you meet become family immediately. The food and bakery pastries are delicious, and the values of God, Torah, Israel, are taught. Lives are transformed daily, and mitzvot are lived daily, just by the very fact that such an amazing place as Neve Hanna exists.

Wolintz GroupNeve Hanna is a place that the entire Conservative/Masorti Movement should take great pride in, and we, as part of WLCJ, should, as well, with Janet Tobin as the co-President of American Friends of Neve Hanna. Make sure you arrange a trip to Neve Hanna in Kiryat Gat on your next trip to Israel!