Bnei Akiva teenage volunteers visit Afula

Twenty-two members of Bnei Akiva youth movement spent two weeks in Afula, northern Israel, volunteering at Emunah’s Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre, a home for disadvantaged children. Their visit heralds the third year that Bnei Akiva, the UK’s largest Jewish youth movement, has run its Kaytana scheme at the Emunah children’s home, showing first-time Madrichim (leaders) another side to life in Israel.

The participants, who are aged 16 or 17, were chosen from over 100 applicants from around the country and those taking part come from Hendon, Finchley, Edgware, Stanmore and Borehamwood, as well as from Manchester and Leeds. Living on campus at Emunah’s Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre,  they befriended the young people and helped staff with activities and outings.

At a briefing before they left the UK the group of volunteers were addressed by British Emunah representative Mindy Wiesenberg.  She said: “Bnei Akiva is a wonderful organisation and I am proud of you for giving up two weeks of your time to help children who come from very different backgrounds to your own.  These children cannot live in their own homes because the situation is too difficult:  either they are dysfunctional or they have been emotionally or physically abused. Some have parents who are addicted to drugs or are in prison, while others have no parents at all.

“We also look after those with special needs, and have activities and therapies that enable all of the children to enjoy as normal a life as possible.  There is basketball and sport; an art room, music therapy and a petting zoo, and we take them swimming. Over 100 children live at the home and a further 100 attend daily programmes.

Mrs Wiesenberg  went onto explain that Emunah is one of the largest social welfare organisations in Israel and that the charity British Emunah helps to fund 36 of the 200 projects and services. She added: “You will be guided by the staff and the councillors as how to interact with the children; language is not a barrier – and they will all benefit from friendship and a smile.  We quite literally transform lives and you will be helping to make a difference.”

Co-leaders of Bnei Akiva Kaytana scheme were Rachel Gaon, 21, and Aaron Wunsh, 20, who  were helped by Hannah Myerson, 19.  The project represents many months of planning by the three, who are volunteers.  They have been liaising with Shlomo Kessel, director of the Emunah centre in Afula.

Rachel Gaon said: “My role is to make sure that Kaytana is a structured volunteer programme that will benefit participants and create confidence and boost self esteem.  It is very different to camp because the emphasis is on learning how to interact with a group of children who may not be initially receptive and being able to take cues from staff and Sherut Leumi (national service) volunteers. Our goal is to create the next generation of leaders who will take responsibility for the community while observing traditional orthodox Jewish values.

“Teaming up with Emunah is a win, win situation. Kaytana is an opportunity for Bnei Akiva Madrichim from all over the country to come together to gain valuable experience and training while helping to care for some of Israel’s most vulnerable children.”

A short film made by Hannah Myerson showing just what Kaytana was like is available to view by clicking here.

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Book your tickets now for the Emunah Showcase Final!

Tickets are selling fast for the Emunah Young Musician and Singer of the Year Showcase Final Concert, at 2.30 pm on Sunday 1st March at the Royal Academy of Music, London.  Click here to book now. For more information please call 020 8203 6066.

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Emunah Bat Mitzvah twinning reveals family history

When 11-year-old Aliza Marlow decided to twin her bat mitzvah with Emunah, a charity that supports disadvantaged children in Israel, she had no idea that her maternal grandmother, Anita (Hannah) Elias, grew up at its Afula home.  The Hasmonean student did a learning programme with her mother at London School of Jewish Studies and attended a meeting to discuss different causes.  Her mother, finance director Esther Marlow, explains:  “I am divorced and Aliza felt quite strongly that she wanted to help children who can’t live with both parents – and we were immediately drawn to Emunah because it is a fantastic charity, although we picked it out at random.”

Last September, Aliza and her 17-year-old brother Jonah went to Wales to climb Mount Snowdon, raising almost £5,000 for the Emunah home in northern Israel.  “Imagine our surprise when we showed the Emunah magazine to my mother and she got very excited, saying ‘I recognise that building – it is the home where I grew up!’ ” adds Esther Marlow.

Telling her story to the JC, Anita explains:  “I was born in India and my parents were part of the first influx of Jewish people who emigrated to Israel in 1949, after the British left.  We went to an absorption centre then to Ashkelon. Within a couple of years my parents returned to India as my mother was pregnant and couldn’t cope with the conditions in Israel.  They left me and my younger sister in the care of Dr Rothschild and his wife at the Emunah home.  I was ten years old when I went to Afula and stayed there until I was 14 or 15 and old enough to go on kibbutz.

“At first my sister cried a lot, but I was a bit stronger.  Dr Rothschild and his wife were very good surrogate parents.  Every night they tucked us up and I threw my blankets off so that they would tuck me up again! They were tough times but we weren’t short of anything and I never went hungry. The years that I spent at the Emunah home in Afula were some of the happiest times of my life. ”

Anita recalled the beautiful clothes parcels sent by Emunah supporters in England. She became fluent in Hebrew, learnt embroidery, played the recorder and enjoyed acting in shows.  She graduated from high school then trained to become a nurse – a career that she continued after she came to England in 1961. Her husband, Raymond, worked in the clothing business, and they lived in Stamford Hill.

Fast forward and three generations of Jewish women – Aliza, Esther and Anita (Hannah) – are showing Anita’s childhood photos to Emunah director Deborah Nathan.  “It is the most amazing coincidence that Aliza chose to fundraise for Emunah without even knowing her own grandmother had grown up in our Afula home – and striking how similar Anita’s story is to some of the children who live there today.”

Talking of her bat mitzvah due to take place at Tikkun later this month, Aliza said:  “I wanted to make my bat mitzvah meaningful so I am twinning with an Israeli girl called Sapir who lives at the Afula home.   I know from experience that when your parents are going through stuff it really affects the children. I am very lucky because I have a large and strong extended family. Emunah does fantastic work and finding out that my grandmother Anita lived at the same home makes my bat mitzvah even more special.”

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Emunah enjoys Coffee and Cookies in Totteridge

30 women attended a coffee morning at the Totteridge home of Michelle Plainer to find out more about Emunah’s work with ‘at risk’children in Israel.  Many came with donated items for the Emunah EBay operation to sell on-line  and Wendy Jackson outlined how Emunah can arrange for house clearances and collection of items from home.  She also explained that we are looking for quality, designer items as these are the best sellers on our highly-rated EBay site.  Wendy is always looking for volunteers to help with listing, packing and sourcing donated goods.  Please email her if you want to get involved – wendy@emunah.org.uk

To visit the Emunah Ebay shop click here.

Michelle Davis talked about Emunah Entertains – our very own Ticket Agency, where you can purchase the best seats at the must-see shows and help transform a child’s life by supporting  Emunah’s projects in Israel. To be added to the Emunah Entertains email list contact Michelle on 0208 203 6066 or email michelledavis@emunah.org.uk.

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Finalists announced for the 2015 Emunah Young Musician and Singer Competitions!

Heats took place  in both London and Manchester this week and the final line up for the Showcase Final Concert on Sunday 1st March is now decided!

Sixty talented youngsters whose ages ranged from eight to 18 took part in the London heats of Emunah Young Musician of the Year and Emunah Young Singer of the Year, which took place on Sunday 1st February at the Royal Academy of Music.   Francoise Geller, chair of the adjudicators, praised the “incredible high standard” of performances in the JC-supported competition, which is sponsored by Wienerworld Ltd.

The regional finals took  place on Tuesday 3rd February at The King David High School, Manchester.

The winners and runners-up will be eligible to perform in the showcase concert and finals on Sunday 1st March at the Royal Academy of Music.

EMUNAH YOUNG MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR

London heats results 2015:

PIANO CLASS 1

Winner: Naomi Bazlov

Joint runners-up: Zach Brandman and Alessandro D’Orazio

PIANO CLASS 2

Winner: Joshua Daniels

Runner-up: Leora Cohen

STRINGS:

Winner: Leora Cohen

Joint runners-up: Aviva Sharp and Poppy McGhee

CLASSICAL VOICE

Winner: Ruby Jacobs

WOODWIND/BRASS

Winner: Poppy McGhee

Highly commended: Jodie Bloom

EMUNAH YOUNG SINGER OF THE YEAR

London heats results 2015:

SINGERS CLASS 1

Winner: Ruby Jacobs

Runner-up:  Natalie Sternberg

Highly Commended:  Aaron Spalter

SINGERS CLASS 2

Joint winners: Amber Lily Jacobs and Millie Land

Joint runners-up: Natasha Fisch and Abi Wander

SINGERS CLASS 3

Winner: Sydney Vos

Runner-up: Isabella Grant

SINGERS CLASS 4

Winner: Lucy Johnson

Runner-up: Brady Isaacs Pearce

Manchester heats 2015

YOUNG MUSICIAN (combined class)

Winner: Yonni Levy

Runner-up: Hadassah Litvin

YOUNG SINGER

Winner: Lucy Sherman

Here are a selection of photos from the London heats. More photos to follow from London and Manchester….

Photos from Manchester:

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Northern Heats & Extended Entry Deadline for 2015 Emunah Young Musician and Young Singer of the Year Competitions!

STOP PRESS: Entry to the 2015 Emunah Young Musician of the Year and Emunah Young Singer of the Year is now open – AND EXTENDED ENTRY DEADLINE UNTIL JANUARY 28TH!

STOP PRESS: NEW NORTHERN HEATS being held on TUESDAY 3RD FEBRUARY AT 7PM AT THE KING DAVID HIGH SCHOOL IN MANCHESTER.

This year we once again have £500 prize fund  (kindly sponsored by Wienerworld) to be shared between the overall winner of the  Young Musician  competition (£250) and the Emunah Young Singer of the Year  (£250).We are looking for talented young musicians and singers aged 8 – 18 to take part in this competition which is held in conjunction with the Jewish Chronicle, and sponsored by Wienerworld Ltd.

To download an entry form click here. Full rules for the competition are available by clicking here. Any other questions – please call us on 020 8203 6066. To download the 2015 flier please click here.

Applications must be received by Wednesday 28th January 2015. This is an extended deadline due to the Northern Heats being added.

London Heats will be on Sunday 1st February 2015.   Northern Heats will be on the evening of Tuesday 3rd February at the King David High School in Manchester.  The Showcase Final Concert will be held on Sunday 1st March 2015 at the Royal Academy of Music.

Please let anyone know who you think may  be interested to enter – It’s a wonderful opportunity to make music and to ultimately raise funds to provide music therapy for vulnerable children in Israel at our residential children’s centres.  To read more about how Emunah uses music therapy to help children please click here.

Emunah in Israel operates a network of children’s homes, high schools, day care centres, therapy and counselling services and community centres helping disadvantaged children and families.

We will once again present the Steven Isserlis Cup for the use of Music for Charitable Purposes – at our Showcase Concert.  Please call 0208 203 6066 for more information on this special award.

For photos and a report on last year’s competition, please click here.

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Helping Emunah’s Children Appeals to Tracy Ann Oberman

Actress Tracy-Ann Oberman showed her support for disadvantaged children in Israel when she made the appeal at Emunah’s gala dinner at Guildhall on Tuesday 2nd December 2014.

Over £230,000 was raised on the evening at which the charity announced plans to expand accommodation and services for “some of Israel’s most disturbed children” at its Neve Landy Children’s Village.

Ms Oberman told the 460 diners.  “Every child that Emunah cares for has their own story – neglect, abuse, poverty, drug addiction – or the death or illness of a family member.  We have a responsibility to help them face the future.”

Michelle Hirschfield, co-dinner chair with Esther Lee, spoke of her distress at the recent terror attack in Jerusalem in which her cousin Avraham Goldberg was murdered. She said the £750,000 needed for the charity’s expansion plans were in addition to the £500k annual maintenance bill paid by British Emunah to support 37 of the charity’s projects.

To make a donation to the appeal please click here.

The Appeal film made by Ronit Knoble of Fantastic Films showed the immediate and longer term impact of Operation Protective Edge on Emunah’s children and staff. The film also featured Emunah supporter Fay Sober and her Pinner knitting group who made teddy bears which brought smiles to the children in Emunah centres in Southern Israel.

Sharon Dewinter welcomed a group of 15 children from the Emunah Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre who were visiting London for a week’s trip.  Speaking in English and Hebrew Sharon described how the visit was life-changing for the children and for the host families with whom they are staying.

Emunah has a network of children’s homes, high schools, day care and counselling centres throughout Israel.

Guest speaker Joshua Hantman, senior advisor to Israel’s ambassador to USA Ron Dermer, said Emunah’s work with vulnerable children “strengthened an entire nation.” Originally from London, Mr Hantman made Aliyah and was IDF spokesperson before taking up his position in Washington.

British Emunah chairman Hilary Pearlman and Mike Freer MP also spoke and entertainment was provided by Emunah Young Musician of the Year pianist Elizabeth Kandelaki and Young Singer, Emma Sherrard as well as finalists Louis Isaacs and Olivia Ter-Berg who played saxophone and harp.

Mrs Hirschfield later said: “It was an incredible evening and a great social success.”

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Israel tribute for legendary Leeds Emunah charity workers


Brothers Jonathan Straight and Elliot Gay paid tribute to their late parents Alan and Monica Gay at a re- dedication held at Emunah’s Neve Landy home in Southern Israel, writes Sue Rifkin.  The home’s therapy wing was previously named in memory of their father Alan Gay.  Sadly Mrs Gay, a dedicated communal worker and Chairman of the Leeds-based Tzfia Goren Emunah group, passed away in December 2013.  Her sons subsequently decided to visit the Emunah project and to rename the wing in both names.  Over £10,000 was raised in their honour through charitable donations from family and friends in the Leeds community.

Leeds entrepreneur Jonathan Straight changed his name from Gay by deed poll attracting national attention for his business interests. Elliot Gay was also accompanied by his two young sons. They were joined by a contingent from Leeds as well as British Emunah Director Deborah Nathan.

The Neve Landy home has a highly trained staff team which looks after 74 boys aged between six and 16 who have severe emotional and psychological problems.

Deborah Nathan said:  “We were delighted that the brothers could see for themselves the work that meant so much to their mother and her co-workers – clearly they were impressed.  Mr Straight spoke movingly about his late parents – it was a wonderful way to celebrate the success of the Tzfia Goren group who worked tirelessly to raise funds for disadvantaged children in Israel for nearly 50 years.”

Their October visit was one of two dedication ceremonies that took place.  Maureen Brooks (known as ‘Mo’) unveiled a plaque marking donations for art therapy in memory of her late mother, Mrs Lily Feldman, a founder member of the Leeds Women’s Mizrachi group which became the TzfiaGoren Emunah Group.

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Emunah Rosh Hashanah Appeal – Please help children like Avi

As a new year begins we have to ask for your support once again. We are enormously grateful that many of you have responded so generously to our Emergency Appeal — the ongoing needs of the children, like Avi, aged 8, remain as desperate as ever.

This year Israel has been at war and the 10,000 children that Emunah look after have had to bear an additional burden. They do not have the support of family or friends — no safety net or security to help them through these dark days — apart from Emunah.

After Avi’s mother died his father abandoned him, disappearing from his life, leaving him with his elderly grandmother. Although he promised to visit, his father never came.

Avi became aggressive, refused to go to school and eventually ran away. At this point social services got involved and last September referred Avi to Emunah to be placed in full-time residential care.

His first weeks at the Afula Children’s Home were challenging. Avi wouldn’t speak and often displayed violent behaviour, but staff quickly realised that he couldn’t read or write which contributed to his feelings of frustration, shame and anger. For the first time in his life Avi received regular hot meals, clean clothes and one-to one attention. Emunah also provided a programme of specialist educational support where he made rapid progress and soon learnt to read and write. As part of his ongoing behavioural and bereavement therapy Avi started to spend a lot of time at the home’s petting zoo, where with the help of a trained therapist, he learnt to take great care of a rabbit. A simple thing – but one that has helped Avi to love, share and trust the world again.

A year on, the transformation in Avi is remarkable. The sad, angry child who joined us last year is now a happier boy who has made friends and has a positive future to look forward to. He was even awarded a certificate for excellence at school – an achievement that everyone was delighted to celebrate with him.

This Rosh Hashanah please support Emunah’s work in Israel so we can help more vulnerable children like Avi.

Your donation enables us to rebuild shattered lives today and guide vulnerable children towards becoming valuable members of Israeli society in the future.

Click here to donate on-line.  Alternatively you can call 020 8203 6066 to make a donation by phone or send donations to Emunah, Shield House, Harmony Way, London, NW4 2BZ.

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Emunah Quiz at Home raises £3,000

Israel’s children in need will receive a welcome cash boost thanks to £3,000 raised through supper quizzes held at 13 homes in north- west London and Hertfordshire on Sunday night 14 September.

The hosts made dinner for their friends then took part in the Emunah-supplied quiz which included general knowledge rounds and brainteasers.  Their answers were coordinated by volunteer Michele Stern.

Held at the Stanmore home of Laura and Neil Sint, the winning team ( pictured above)comprised Rosina and Andrew Eder, Carole and Martin Briggs, Francine and Charles Wunsh, Jacqui Rudolph, Caroline Smer, Laura Sint, Camille and Michael Compton. “It was good fun, a great way to raise funds to support some of Israel’s most vulnerable children,” said Emunah director Deborah Nathan.

The trophy pictured is the hosts own!

Thank you to everyone who took part.  A good time was had by all!

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Emunah Rosh Hashanah Appeal – Please help children like Avi

As a new year begins we have to ask for your support once again. We are enormously grateful that many of you have responded so generously to our Emergency Appeal — the ongoing needs of the children, like Avi, aged 8, remain as desperate as ever.

This year Israel has been at war and the 10,000 children that Emunah look after have had to bear an additional burden. They do not have the support of family or friends — no safety net or security to help them through these dark days — apart from Emunah.

After Avi’s mother died his father abandoned him, disappearing from his life, leaving him with his elderly grandmother. Although he promised to visit, his father never came.

Avi became aggressive, refused to go to school and eventually ran away. At this point social services got involved and last September referred Avi to Emunah to be placed in full-time residential care.

His first weeks at the Afula Children’s Home were challenging. Avi wouldn’t speak and often displayed violent behaviour, but staff quickly realised that he couldn’t read or write which contributed to his feelings of frustration, shame and anger. For the first time in his life Avi received regular hot meals, clean clothes and one-to one attention. Emunah also provided a programme of specialist educational support where he made rapid progress and soon learnt to read and write. As part of his ongoing behavioural and bereavement therapy Avi started to spend a lot of time at the home’s petting zoo, where with the help of a trained therapist, he learnt to take great care of a rabbit. A simple thing – but one that has helped Avi to love, share and trust the world again.

A year on, the transformation in Avi is remarkable. The sad, angry child who joined us last year is now a happier boy who has made friends and has a positive future to look forward to. He was even awarded a certificate for excellence at school – an achievement that everyone was delighted to celebrate with him.

This Rosh Hashanah please support Emunah’s work in Israel so we can help more vulnerable children like Avi.

Your donation enables us to rebuild shattered lives today and guide vulnerable children towards becoming valuable members of Israeli society in the future.

Click here to donate on-line.  Alternatively you can call 020 8203 6066 to make a donation by phone or send donations to Emunah, Shield House, Harmony Way, London, NW4 2BZ.

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