An­other Is­rael

B. E, from Lon­don, urges us to reach be­yond the beach — and change lives

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Youth Aliyah Child Rescue -

WE WANTED to do it dif­fer­ently this time. We had been to Is­rael so of­ten and the ex­pe­ri­ence had be­come a lit­tle stale, not quite as spe­cial: the beach, ho­tel cof­fee lounge, shuk, mu­se­ums and even the friends, all from back home any­way. “Why not visit one of the youth vil­lages we’ve been sup­port­ing for years?” asked my hus­band.

The drive into Aloney Yitzchak, through or­ange groves and ba­nana trees, was like en­ter­ing a kib­butz. The youth vil­lage is home and a school to around 400 chil­dren from at-risk back­grounds — poverty, abuse, ne­glect.

Nina, the di­rec­tor came out of her of­fice cabin to greet us — a warm wel­come from a warm per­son. She her­self is a grad­u­ate of the youth vil­lage, where she ar­rived from Ro­ma­nia, alone and with­out any sup­port. She went on to univer­sity and re­turned in a man­age­ment po­si­tion to the vil­lage she now calls home.

Our tour took us through dor­mi­to­ries, club­houses, class­rooms, gar­dens tended by the vil­lage stu­dents, as well as to the art cen­tre and mu­sic hall. The liv­ing quar­ters were im­mac­u­late. “Our kids take turns on the clean­ing rota, learn­ing to cher­ish their home and en­vi­ron­ment,” said Nina.

Among the young peo­ple we met was Mo­rav, from Ethiopia. He was prac­tis­ing the flute — a melan­cholic tune. Later we learned that he had been help­ing his fa­ther sweep the streets of a nearby town. He was 15 years old, had come to Is­rael two years ear­lier and felt a fail­ure. En­cour­aged to study, and given the as­sis­tance he needed, Mo­rav blos­somed into a keen stu­dent, now about to grad­u­ate.

We also met As­saf, whose par­ents trav­elled to Is­rael on foot through the deserts of Su­dan. One of six chil­dren, with both par­ents un­em­ployed, As­saf now has high hopes of get­ting a schol­ar­ship to study at the Tech­nion.

Dorit suf­fered phys­i­cal and ver­bal abuse at her fa­ther’s home and her mother was a drug ad­dict, but now she is part of the vil­lage’s per­for­mance group, with her sights set on the Bat­sheva Dance Com­pany.

The sun was set­ting. It was time for us to re­turn to Ne­tanya. Our minds were set on a schol­ar­ship for As­saf and try­ing to help in other ways too. The day was cer­tainly dif­fer­ent, a mov­ing in­sight into why char­ity really does mat­ter.

Look­ing into the fu­ture

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