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
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
As I am sure that many of you have been following us on Facebook, you are aware that this has been a very special week. You see, this week, the annual CHW Mission took place!
I have had the pleasure of touring throughout Israel and more importantly, I have had the opportunity to visit our projects with this group. We visited the Sandy Martin Alberta Daycare Centre, Hadassah Hospital, the CHW Netanya Technological High School, the CHW Hadassim Children and Youth Village, Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, and the CHW Nahalal Youth Village. We met numerous people who help to make our projects what they are today, and those people who are directly impacted by our support.
Whether it was seeing the adorable children at the daycare, baking a cake with the students at Netanya, or speaking with Na’aleh students at Nahalal, it was an unforgettable experience! It was also wonderful to see the reactions of our CHW members!
Ferne was one of the participants who had never been to Israel before, and consequently, it was amazing to be able to be a part of her experience! Lisa had been to Israel before and had visited some of our projects, but said that every time she heads to Israel, she learns something new and participates in a very different experience! Martha had also been to Israel before, but this was her first time seeing many of CHW’s projects. Overall, everyone expressed how memorable and special this trip was to them!
What fun it was for me to play a part in such a meaningful trip! With our 3 CHW members, National President Marla Dan, First Vice-President Claudia Goldman, and National Executive Director Alina Ianson, we all bonded over how important CHW is to us, to the people our organization impacts, and to its significance in Israel!
It is important for us to thank all of the managers and children at each of our projects for hosting us at their daycare, school, and hospital!
The group at the Chagall Windows. From far left: Martha, Marla, Ferne, Alina, Lisa, and Claudia
Chanukah is a very special time of year! I am sure we all have wonderful memories of celebrating the holiday with family and friends. One of my favorite memories was making a menorah to light on my own. Every year, I spent a great deal of time in art class making a menorah out of clay, cardboard, or any other material that I could find!
This year at the CHW Hadassim Children andYouthVillage, I felt right at home as they held a menorah making competition!
The students were given different art tools to design and then create their very own menorah. Ze’ev, director of the youth village, says, “This was a wonderful idea because it got the children so excited about Chanukah!” The students made beautiful, creative, and unique designs.
Once the student’s finished their menorahs, they were put on display for the entire youth village to see. People voted for the menorah that they thought was the most imaginative and original.
One student says, “This was so much fun, but the best part is getting to light a menorah that I made from scratch!”
This will no doubt prove to be a special Chanukah memory for them to cherish!
This has been an extremely difficult time in Israel and we appreciate all of the support that we have been receiving from everyone in Canada.
Here is an update from all of our projects:
From Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem, to the North, everyone has been impacted by this situation. The Rose Kenee Youth Centre has introduced a new slogan: "Do not give up!" They want to inspire the Tel Aviv community and let everyone know that we will push through this trying time. The youth centre has worked their hardest to ensure everyone’s safety while maintaining their normal day-to-day activities. Despite the situation, the Rose Kenee Youth Centre has managed to keep their doors open! In fact, activities have been taking place inside their shelter. Tomer, the manager of the centre said, “This has actually brought the community closer together!”
Activities continuing inside the shelter at the Rose Kenee Youth Centre.
Also in the Tel Aviv area, is the Calgary Bat-Yam Women’s Centre. Unfortunately, the centre had no choice but to close its doors for one day during this time. The threat and dangers were too large after a rocket hit the city of Bat-Yam. As many of these women are older, the stress of getting to a safe place in time is a lot for them to handle. Therefore, many of these women are left with the only option of staying at home in anticipation of yet another Red Alert siren.
Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, just south of Tel Aviv has had to quickly react and transform the hospital in response to the situation in Israel. Since Assaf Harofeh Medical Center serves a large population both in the South and Center of Israel, the hospital spent the week running exercises in the event of a major attack. The purpose of these drills was to ensure that the hospital be prepared to absorb mass injuries. In addition, Assaf Harofeh received many doctors and paramedics from around the world offering their services.
This horrible situation has caused Assaf Harofeh, along with many other hospitals throughout the country, to update their windows. They are securing their windows to reduce the heat in the event of an attack. In addition, the windows will be sealed with a special material that will prevent the glass from shattering in the event of an explosion. These new windows will enable the hospital to continue functioning even during wartime.
While Assaf Harofeh is working to best prepare the hospital for a time of war, there are some things that remain unavoidable. Unfortunately, while a young couple from Ashdod was in the hospital giving birth to their son, their home was destroyed by a rocket fired from Hamas. The new family is now without a home and is scared to return to Ashdod. The mother cannot run with her baby to a shelter. Sadly, this young family is left not knowing what to do next.
A new family from Ashdod who were impacted by the rockets.
Moving to Jerusalem, Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center has unfortunately been subjected to the ongoing sounding of Red Alert sirens. At any moment, the doctors, nurses, staff, and patients need to stop what they are doing and run for shelter. The two options for safety is either a shelter or-if you cannot reach a shelter in time- to take refuge in a staircase. However, for many patients, this is not possible as they are helpless without the assistance of the hospital staff. Therefore, upon hearing the Red Siren, these brave nurses and staff are not seeking shelter for themselves; instead they gallantly rush to move patients away from the windows to ensure their safety. This is no way to live, let alone conditions for a hospital to operate under.
Thankfully, moving on towards Northern Israel, these areas and our projects here are not directly affected by rockets and sirens. However, many of these communities have offered a helping hand. Hadassim Youth Village has reached out to the community in Ashdod and absorbed 50 children who have been bombarded by non-stop missiles threatening their lives, families, and their homes. These children were unable to go to school, play outside, and have a full night’s sleep. Hadassim Youth Village welcomed these children and worked hard to provide them with care and love.
When the children first arrived to Hadassim, they were very tense, overwhelmed, and scared. They were all in shock. Yossi, the manager of the dormitories said, “Many of these children were tired, as they had not slept for fear of hearing a siren.” The youth village welcomed these children with open arms; they were given candy and treats in an effort to make them feel better. Yossi explained that the youth village wanted to make these children feel like kids again; therefore, the candy and activities that they planned were light-hearted and fun!
The children were taken on a trip to a safari and a tour of Haifa. In the evening there were different activities, from karaoke to dancing! After two days, the children went to school at Hadassim. Ze’ev, the director of Hadassim and Eli, the principal of the school, felt that it was important for the children to return to their routines. Therefore, they were sent to school like all the other students.
Everyone at Hadassim Youth Village understood the importance of helping these children. The teachers, students, counselors, and staff were compassionate towards these children. The students at Hadassim immediately welcomed the children and made an effort to include them. In fact, Yossi believes that many new friendships were forged out of this experience! One counselor said, “It was very heart-warming to see the way our students embraced these children. They showed so much maturity and compassion.”
While Hadassim Youth Village has been a major aid for these children during this time, their assistance has been a large strain on the school and its resources. Hadassim has housed, fed, and cared for 50 additional students. The teachers and staff have given of themselves. As these children arrived afraid, traumatized, and without the comfort of their parents, there was a large need for the staff to listen to these children and help them through the recovery process. One child opened up about his experience seeing a rocket destroy his neighbor’s home. He cried that he was scared about the same thing happening to his home. Many of the children were frightened for their families who were still in Ashdod. The staff and counselors worked around the clock to help these children by providing them with special care and attention. It is evident that while Hadassim has been doing its best, this has been a challenging effort on their part. Their assistance is a drain on the youth village and they deeply need additional support.
Thankfully, a ceasefire was put in place late yesterday evening. However, despite this truce, rockets continued to fall in the south. This is a situation that can re-ignite at any moment. Therefore, continued help is always welcomed. Again, we thank our loyal CHW members for their selfless support during this trying time.
As we are all aware, there is a security crisis in Israel. Rockets are continuously falling in South and Central Israel. At Canadian Hadassah-WIZO we are doing our best to ensure that all security measures are being met in our daycare centres, schools, and youth villages.
A mother with her children taking shelter when a Red Alarm has gone off.
Our staff and teachers have been running practice drills in order for the children to be prepared in the event of an emergency. The children have been taught how to respond upon hearing the Red Alarm sound.
The teachers at the schools and youth villages and the staff at the daycare centres are also doing their best to reassure the children and keep everyone calm. At Hadassim Youth Village, they have absorbed 50 children from Ashdod in an effort to keep them safe.
Children inside the shelter at the Rose Dunkelman Toronto Daycare Centre.
It is our hope that this situation will soon pass. However, at this time, all of programs are in need of your help and support.
On a recent visit to CHW’s Netanya Technological High School, I made a special trip to my favorite department – the Patisserie Department! Why do I love the Patisserie Department so much? Well, before even walking into the room, I can smell the wonderful scent of fresh baked pastries, chocolates cakes, and much more! When I enter the room, I see young, energetic, and talented students busy at work creating impressive mouth-watering desserts.
A group of students from the Patisserie Stream taking turns piping out dough and helping each other with their work.
On this particular occasion, the students were learning how to make hot cross buns. It was fun to see how focused they were on perfecting the buns. The energy in the room was great as they all helped each other out. It was an especially challenging day as this was one of their first times using a piping bag. However, once they got the hang of it, they were whipping through trays of hot cross buns!
I love going to visit this school because I always get to see how much the students truly love what they are learning. It is evident that the teachers are passionate about what they do and that the students take so much pride in their work! And of course, I love getting to taste the wonderful and tasty sweets!
This is a photo of one of the students concentrating very hard while piping out dough for hot cross buns.
Over the past two months I have had the incredible opportunity to meet all kinds of Na’aleh students. I have gotten to know their histories and how Na’aleh has shaped their dreams for the future. I have visited graduates of the Na’aleh program to see first-hand how it has impacted their lives.
My last visit to Nahalal, I met a unique and enthusiastic student named Diana. She is in grade 10 and loving the Na’aleh program. I asked her what brought her here and she replied happily, “Back in the Ukraine, I was worried about my future. I knew Israel and Nahalal was a place of opportunities for me. Coming to Nahalal and being part of the Na’aleh program was my dream!”
Students sitting on the grass in front of the stage at the Nahalal welcome ceremony
Another student explained that the Na’aleh program promises a good education both academically and socially. Olsan, also a grade 10 student fromUkraine, said, “Since being in the Na’aleh program I have learnt so much. I wanted to come because of the quality education that I knew I would receive. I knew that this was my only hope for a successful future. Today, Na’aleh andIsraelare my home.”
Upon each of my visits to Nahalal, I see the positive effect that this program has on children. They are given warmth and care through their counsellors, teachers, and peers, they are given an outstanding education, and most importantly, they are given a future.
It is clear to me that students in the Na’aleh program are excelling! Meeting them has shown me what an amazing opportunity it is for the children who are able to participate. As many students were proud to tell me, CHW gives them an advantage that life didn’t.
I think the beautiful Na’aleh student, Diana, sums it up best, “Thank you to CHW because without you, we would not be here.”
New students celebrating Rosh Hashana