Harry Pot­ter works magic

Sue Rifkin ex­plains how Emunah helps trans­form the lives and prospects of trou­bled chil­dren in Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Emunah -

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

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