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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Happy Purim 2018

Happy Purim!

THE CHILDREN OF NEVE HANNA WISH YOU A HAPPY PURIM!

Your generous gift will:

Help us complete the renovations of the kitchens and dining rooms in the children’s living areas.

Continue to fund our therapeutic gardens and petting zoo.

Support our innovative programs including the “Path to Bread” initiative at our bakery.

Build a darkroom for our new photo workshop.

Help Israeli children from troubled families heal and thrive.

Spread the joy by making a donation today!  Go to: www.afnevehanna.org 

Thank you for your love and support!  Together Changing Children’s Lives! 

 

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!

Mezuzahs are Available!

MezuzotMezuzahs are still available for purchase!  Be a part of our Hiddur Mitzvah Project!

In appreciation for your participation, you will receive a duplicate mezuzah as the one you donated.  With your generous donation and support, our children will continue to grow and thrive.  We hope you will be inspired to send a contribution in recognition of our shared dedication to building a bright future for the children of Neve Hanna.

Learn more about this special project at https://afnevehanna.org/hiddur-mitzvah-project

You may download and print the form.  Please make checks payable to American Friends of Neve Hanna.

All charge cards are accepted on our website:  afnevehanna.org   Click on DONATE and charge using Network for Good.  All donations are tax deductible.

The Petting Zoo

Petting Zoo

For Neve Hanna children, this is much more than a place where they can watch, feed and pet the animals.  It is the place where they have animal-assisted therapy. During therapy, animal-assisted therapists watch children interact with the animals and interpret their behavioral patterns. Through the interaction between the animal and the child a vast variety of issues is addressed without the need for verbal expression.

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