Harry Potter works magic
Sue Rifkin explains how Emunah helps transform the lives and prospects of troubled children in Israel
AN ACTION-PACKED week in London was a magical experience for a group of 11-to-18year-olds from a children’s home in Afula, northern Israel, run by the charity Emunah. Their trip was thanks to a group of women who went on a mother-and-daughter Israel tour and were moved by the plight of children “who were well cared for, but did not have the kind of lives their own families enjoyed.”
There was a warm welcome for the Israeli youngsters who arrived at Luton Airport on a bitterly cold December night. “I’m not sure who was more excited — us or the host families,” said Shlomo Kessel, the home’s director, who accompanied the 15 youngsters.
Activities ranged from golf, bowling and London attractions including Buckingham Palace and a theatre trip, to shopping in Primark and the Harry Potter studio
tour. Highlights included Chanucah dinner and magic show at the Hampstead home of Lisa Ronson and husband Paul Althasen, where her sisters Nicole and Hayley came to show support.
Staying with families in Stanmore, Edgware and Hendon, the youngsters received one-to-one attention and enjoyed normal family life, including Shabbat.
Camille Compton, chairman of Emunah, explains: “The women formed a committee and together with donors paid for the trip, ensuring that it did not come from the charity’s funds. When you see the children, you know why we are doing this. It has been an amazing week and an incredible experience as the children and families got to know each other.”
The committee comprised Kate Assor, Judith Bower, Camille Compton, Sharon Dewinter, Avital Fisher, Sara Greenfield, Natalie Jackson, Deborah Nathan (director), Melisa Resnick, Laura Sint and Francine Wunsh.
Sharon Dewinter describes hosting the visitors as “very rewarding”, while Laura Sint, who organised logistics, says: “The children opened up like flowers and responded very well.”
“When you ask people to give money to Emunah and you explain that it is for children who are orphaned or cannot live at home, most people want to support,” adds Francine Wunsh.
The week ended with a party and drumming workshop at Yeshurun Synagogue, Edgware, where 12-year-old Uriel said: “Thank you Emunah for bringing me to London — I’ve had a brilliant time!”
Emunah is a major provider of welfare services in Israel and helps thousands of children on a daily basis through its network of residential homes, high schools, day care centres and therapy and counselling centres.
Enjoying life at an Emunah-funded home in Afula