This past week I attended the graduation ceremony at Hadassim Children and Youth Village.
The ceremony was filled with warmth and joy as the students excitingly received their diplomas. Ze’ev Twito, the director of the youth village, opened the evening with a few words, saying that, “Hadassim is forever the student’s home,” and that he misses them already. It was so touching to see firsthand the genuine care that Ze’ev has for each student.
It was a remarkable event. Even the Mayors of both Even Yehuda and Kadima Zoran, the local municipalities, came to the graduation and commended the students on their excellent work.
One of my favourite parts of the ceremony was when the parents came on stage as a surprise and sung a song they had written to their children. It was such a beautiful part of the ceremony and all the students rushed the stage at the end!
The ceremony also recognized those students who had worked hard to achieve the highest grades in the class and give back to the community. One dormitory student, Michael Magrilov, was even awarded the Israel Youth Award for his outstanding work academically, socially, and through volunteering.
I felt honoured when Dr. Carmela Dekel spoke at the graduation and specifically thanked CHW for their hard work and dedication to Hadassim.
The evening was so special and moving. I am so thankful to have been a part of it. The students displayed so much pride and maturity when receiving their diplomas. It was evident that there was a lot of love in the ceremony.
On behalf of CHW we would like to wish the Hadassim graduates and all of the graduates from CHW projects success and luck in their futures!
Michael Magrilov holding the Israel Youth Award he received
The parents on stage singing to the students
What a fun day at Hadassim! The graduating students unveiled their final project, and what a hit it was!
As Hadassim’s graduating students prepare for the end of the year, they’ve had one final assignment to complete. Annually, the graduating students at Hadassim host an event and activity for the younger grades to participate in. This year, the graduating students decided to take on a new project. They built a life-size chess board for future students to use.
The inspiration for this project came from a new chess program that was introduced this year at Hadassim. In fact, Tova Ben-Dov, President of World WIZO, was the founder of this program at Hadassim as well as three other youth villages throughout Israel.
The graduating students spent months building the life-size board and chess pieces or chessmen, as they are commonly referred to, and the game was revealed today. Hours were spent with students and teachers playing and laughing!
When asked about their decision to make this, the graduating students said that it was important to them to make something fun and educational. Most importantly, they expressed that they wanted something that could be passed down to future students.
Hadassim students building the chess board
The complete chess board at its unveiling
Students painting the chess board
Graduating students putting the finishing touches on their life size chess board
As the school year is coming to an end, students across Israel are focused on studying for their end of year exams. Recently, upon visiting one of CHWs’ projects, I spoke with students who expressed just how hard they have been working.
At Nahalal, one student told me that her goal is to get the highest grade in Israel! Therefore, she is studying for many hours every day! In fact, Nahalal has been busy preparing their students for the examinations. However, the grade nine Na’aleh students have been working extra hard for their final examinations. As these students are new to these types of exams, it is important that they receive additional assistance. The students have remained highly motivated to succeed on their examinations. In fact, they have devoted extra study hours due to their language barrier which for the first year in Israel can be a challenge.
It was wonderful to see just how much dedication and perseverance these students have! On behalf of CHW we would like to wish all of CHW’s students the best of luck!
A photo of Nahalal students studying for their exams
Nahalal students in class
There have been holidays and ceremonies taking place throughout the country. Recently, in light of Independence Day, soldiers were honoured with a special ceremony to show the country’s appreciation for their dedication and work. Soldiers from around the country joined in the ceremony; in fact, some soldiers were specially honoured for outstanding work.
During one of these ceremonies I was proud to learn that two of the soldiers being honoured were former students from Hadassim Children and Youth Village! In fact, these two students grew up in the dormitories at Hadassim and today, when they are off duty from the army, they return to Hadassim where they live and volunteer with fellow dormitory students!
I was proud to see Vladi, an officer, walk on stage to be honoured. Then shortly after, Dan, who is in a very elite unit, receive his distinction. It was evident that the two boys were proud of their hard work.
Dan expressed that Hadassim is his home and it is what made him the person he is today!
Seeing our Hadassim students grow into mature and accomplished young citizens is a wonderful feeling and it is with thanks to the work of CHW.
A photo of one of the soldiers who grew up at Hadassim
A photo of Israeli soldiers from Hadassim
This week was filled with many celebrations throughout the country. As you may already know, on Monday we recognized Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for those who have fallen in the IDF. Then, on Tuesday, we celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
These days are filled with a great deal of emotion, some of sadness, as well as feelings of pride. This is only my second year being in Israel to celebrate these holidays, and I would like to share my experience.
On Yom Hazikaron two sirens are sounded throughout the country. This is a time when everyone in the country stands for a moment of silence. Being a part of this experience is truly special. This day made me think of the students in our youth villages who are preparing to enter the army in the upcoming fall. As Nahalal Youth Village has one of the highest enlistment averages in the country, my thoughts were with them.
On a brighter note, I was fortunate to be visiting the Rose Dunkelman Daycare Centre during the celebrations for Yom Ha’atzmaut. All the children dressed in white and in the week leading up to the holiday, the children had learned about this day and the meaning behind it. The daycare prepared large cakes with the Israeli flag drawn on them. The daycare was filled with decorations and excitement. I took part in singing songs and dancing with the children in celebration of this significant day.
Regardless of where you are in Canada, in Israel, or elsewhere, I am sure many of us were touched by these days!
A photo of one of the cakes the Rose Dunkelman Daycare Centre prepared. Written on it is the birthday of Israel
Some children from the Rose Dunkelman Daycare Centre. In this photo the children are being fitted for hats that are decorated for Yom Ha’aztmaut
A ceremony taking place for Yom Hazikaron at Hadassim
One of my favourite things about working with CHW is getting to visit our projects. I love meeting the children that attend our daycare centres, schools, and youth villages. I recently visited Hadassim Children and Youth Village, where I met two outstanding and special students. I would like to share these students’ stories with you.
Keren was brought to Hadassim by the Department of Social Services; she is currently living in the dormitory for at-risk girls. Keren has been at Hadassim for three years. She says since arriving at Hadassim, she is a new person! Keren loves music and is taking voice lessons. She is in the choir and performs whenever she has the opportunity (which is for anyone who will listen!) Today Keren is a motivated and diligent young woman.
I move on to tell you about Tamara, a grade nine student who lives in the Hadassim Family Units. Tamara is originally from Sderot. Her parents sent her to Hadassim due to the ongoing rocket attacks that were putting her life in danger. Her parents felt this was the healthiest choice for their daughter. Tamara is thriving at Hadassim. She no longer is fearful of waking up in the middle of the night to sirens, or of what will happen if a rocket hits her home. Hadassim provided her with a safe and warm environment.
I share these two children’s stories with you because they, like each personal story that I am told, are special. They show me the wonderful impact that our CHW projects have on individuals.
Stay in touch for more personal stories!
This is a photo of a student who lives in the dormitories for girls at-risk
This is a photo of students who live in the dormitories
Passover is a special holiday to be with family and friends. As I am originally from Canada, I decided to spend the holiday in Toronto with my family. However, I would like to share with you the unique ways that Passover is being celebrated throughout the CHW projects.
At Hadassim Children and Youth Village, the students from the dormitories and family units are busy preparing for a large Seder together. Each child has been given a different responsibility, whether it is helping to cook or set the table.
At CHW’s Daycare Centres, the children are being taught about Passover, both the meaning of the holiday and the traditions.
While every project is celebrating the holiday in their own special way, the one thing we all have in common is that everyone will be together with those who they love and care about.
This is a photo of a family together at last year’s Hadassim Passover celebration
Here we see a child learning about Passover at the Rose Dunkelman Daycare Centre
This past week I visited the Calgary Bat-Yam Women’s Centre. I always love visiting CHW projects, and the Calgary Bat-Yam Women’s Centre is a particularly special place. The women are always so happy to have visitors, and are very welcoming.
Two of the women I spoke with at Calgary’s Bat-Yam Women’s Centre. Bat-Yam has been around since the mid-1940s, when it started teaching home classes for local women
During this particular visit, I ended up speaking with the women about Passover. As the holiday is quickly approaching, it was a hot topic among the women. They shared stories and fond memories of Passover celebrations over the years. As many of the women at the Centre were not born in Israel, each has their own unique Passover traditions.
We spoke about how everyone is preparing for the holiday and, of course, I received many invitations to the Seders! We shared laughs about how much time is spent in the kitchen, finding unique matzah recipes, and so much more.
It was so special to hear the women’s stories. I am sure that we will all have wonderful memories to reflect on about the coming Passover celebration.
To find out more about the Calgary Bat-Yam Women’s Centre, you can Go Here.
A group shot taken during my visit to Calgary’s Bat-Yam Women’s Centre. It was wonderful to see the difference this CHW funded institution has made in their lives
This past week, I am sure you all enjoyed an extra-long weekend, celebrating Family Day together. What many of you may not know is that in Israel, we celebrated Family Day as well. What a special occasion it was, both across the country and across the ocean!
Parents and children celebrating together at the DCC.
The idea behind Family Day is to spend time with those who are meaningful to you and whom you love. There is no doubt that in our CHW projects, this is exactly how the day was spent!
In our CHW daycare centres, parents were invited to spend the morning at the daycare. Together, the children, parents, and staff joined in a multitude of activities. Everyone sang songs, danced, made arts and crafts together and so much more. As well, it was a unique time for all of the parents to get to know one another a little better. One parent says, “I pick my daughter up every day from daycare; however, getting to spend the day with her and see how she well she is cared for is so special!”
The fun did not stop at our daycare centres! At the CHW Hadassim Children and Youth Village, the children in the dormitories and family units spent the day on a bike trip throughout Israel! What a fun and active way to spend the day!
Student on the bike trip.
Regardless of how Family Day was spent, everyone seemed to enjoy the “designated” quality time with their loved ones! Maybe next year, you will have the opportunity to spend Family Day in Israel, celebrating at one of CHW’s projects!