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.Read More
Entry to the 2014 Emunah Young Musician 2014 competition is now open! Are you the person to follow in the footsteps of 2013 winner, violinist Amos Sharp? This year we have £500 prize fund (kindly sponsored by Wienerworld) to be shared between the overall winner of the competition (£300) and the winner of our new category: Musical Theatre Singer of the Year (£200).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.
London Heats will be on Sunday 2nd February 2014. Manchester Heats will be on Sunday 9th February 2014. The Showcase Final Concert will be held on Sunday 9th March 2014 at the Royal Academy of Music.
For photos and a report on last year’s competition, please click here.
Photo of Amos Sharp – Credit John Rifkin.Read More
Please support our Rosh Hashanah campaign and help transform the lives of children who have suffered abuse and neglect. Click here to donate today.Read More
Young Emunah invites you to dinner….and there is MURDER on the menu!
We have only 2 places left for men, we are SOLD OUT for women! – so call Laura (07903 413634) to secure you’re place.
Prepare yourself for a night of drama, laughs and questions (and it’s a Jewish event so of course there will be food – a 2 course meal).
We look forward to seeing you on the 18th July for a night to remember!
Date: Thursday 18 July 2013
Venue: SOYO, Golders Green
Minimum donation per person: £30
RSVP Laura@emunah.org.uk or call 07903 413634 to book your placeRead More
On top of Ben Nevis!
Alison Cohen & her husband Adrian are completing a very special challenge for British Emunah - they are climbing the three tallest mountains in the UK – in 3 days! Click here to sponsor them.
On top of Scafell Pike – 2 peaks down, one to go!Read More
Twelve-year-old JFS pupil and Liverpool fan Naftali Wolfson visited every Premiership League football ground in the space of 48 hours to raise money for Emunah. Having visited the children’s home in Afula last year, Naftali decided to twin his Bar Mitzvah with Emunah. 110 children live at the Afula centre and another 90 attend the daily Together with his family, he has raised £11,000 to restore the home’s unusable football pitch and repair the playground.
Team Wolfson – comprising Naftali and his parents Danielle and Jonathan – left their Mill Hill home on Saturday night (4th May) for their whirlwind Bank Holiday challenge.
Memorable moments included an Emirates Stadium behind-the-scenes tour where Naftali gave a “press conference” and had fun on the Arsenal pitch. At Chelsea, he sat on Rafa Benitez’s seat – wearing his Liverpool cap! He went onto the pitch at Everton and at Stoke City, he sat in the manager’s seat. He sat in Aguero’s seat in Manchester City’s dressing room and Roberto Mancini’s seat in the dugout. But at Old Trafford, he was the only football fan not having to rush into the Manchester United Stadium for the match.
Naftali’s “best bit” was at Anfield during half-time where he met Ian Callaghan and Phil Neal (aka Naftali’s daddy’s footballing heroes). He received an “unbelievable selection of signed photos and signed shirts” and a special certificate with congratulations and best wishes from Liverpool Football Club.
The family set up a dedicated Facebook page where they posted photos of Naftali at each venue and gave a running commentary. Naftali was also pictured at Southampton, Reading, Swansea, West Bromich Albion, Aston Villa, Wigan, Sunderland, Newcastle, West Ham, Fulham, QPR and Tottenham.
The fundraising includes more than £3,000 raised by uncle Tristan Nagler, who ran the Virgin London Marathon. A further £20 was raised by Naftali’s five-year-old sister Sigal though a tuck shop sale at Mathilda Marks Kennedy School. Naftali also has another Emunah fundraising project shortly to be completed – he is collecting his body weight in coins.
Last stop for the Wolfson family’s Premiership Football Challenge was on Monday night where the family received a warm welcome from Emunah at Wembley Stadium.
Naftali Wolfson said: “I am happy and proud that I’ve finished my Premiership Marathon. I’ve had an amazing time but Liverpool will always be my number one club!”
Emunah Director Deborah Nathan who said: “We’ve enjoyed following all of your adventures over the weekend – you are a really special family. Thank you for supporting us and for coming up with so many incredible fundraising ideas.”
If you’re inspired by Naftali’s amazing adventure and still want to sponsor him please click here to visit his fundraising page.Read More
On Sunday 25th August 2013 join members of Emunah’s Southend and Westcliff group and friends who will be taking part in a ‘Summer Ramble’ for Emunah – walking from Chalkwell Shelter along the pier and back! Work up an appetite on the walk and then enjoy a delicious Baigel Brunch afterwards! Venue to be advised on application.
Lawrence Collins (pictured below) is taking part and you can sponsor him by clicking here and choosing his name from the drop down menu or call 0208 203 6066 and donate over the phone.
For further information and to book your place please contact Southend & Westcliff Emunah Chairman Rochelle Spector on 01702 436 991 or email email@example.comRead More
Seven runners completed the Virgin London Marathon raising over £20k for Emunah helping to provide welfare services for vulnerable children in Israel. The team comprised a university student, a representative of an Israeli high tech company; a sales agent, a teacher, a corporate banker, a personal trainer and an unstoppable great grandmother.
Emunah’s youngest runner was Charles Braunstein, 21, a politics undergraduate at the University of Leeds, who finished his first London Marathon in an impressive three hours and 48 minutes. He has raised £2,300 but hopes to reach his £2,500 target. “I am really chuffed with my time – the race was tough but the atmosphere was unbelievable,” said Charles whose family came from Hale in Manchester to support him. An old injury troubled him along the route but he ran with a friend and kept his pace.
Emunah supports thousands of children in Israel through its network of residential homes, high schools, day care therapy and counselling services.
Tri-athlete Daniel Pearlman, 40, returned to the UK for his first London Marathon, having made Aliyah in 2007. He finished in three hours 18 minutes, making him Emunah’s fastest runner. Originally from Hampstead Garden Suburb, he made Aliyah in 2007 and works for a high tech company. He’s done four marathons in four months including Tiberius, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. “It was an amazing experience, very different from the others. The crowds are fantastic and they carry you through. I was very pleased with the race, it was my second fastest. My family has been involved with Emunah for years so that it was an obvious choice. ”
Having survived a malignant melanoma, sales agent Adrian Cohen, 49, from Bushey, hopes to raise £50,000 for charity for his 50th birthday. This includes £12,500 for Emunah and similar sums for Lonsdale School, Norwood and University College Hospital through the Three Peaks Challenge and an international bike ride later this year. He finished in five hours 58. “This was my second London Marathon [he ran in 2008] and I was pleased to get round, it was a personal best. This time I was ten minutes faster. I enjoyed it but it was tough, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Now I’m retiring from marathon running.”
Added Adrian: “Nineteen years ago when I heard I had cancer, my life flashed past me. My wife Alison [who works for Emunah] was pregnant with our youngest child and I had half my calf removed. I have continued to produce pre-cancerous moles and last year I had a growth removed from my eye. I believe you should live life to the full and do what you can to help others.”
Aryeh Richman, 29, Head of Jewish Studies at Yavneh College, finished in five hours 15 minutes. “This was my fourth London Marathon and a new personal best. It was warmer than expected and I have never seen so many people taken ill, it was really quite disturbing. I steadied my pace, stayed calm and ran a sensible race to get round. I was very happy with my run and the money that I have raised – over £3,000 so far. That kept me going. Emunah does amazing work for disadvantaged children in Israel and growing up as a ‘BA-boy’ it’s a charity that is close to my heart.”
Investec corporate banker Tristan Nagler, 37, from Hendon, crossed the finishing line in five hours three minutes. He was persuaded to run by his nephew, JFS schoolboy Naftali Wolfson, 12, who is twinning his bar mitzvah with Emunah children’s home in Afula. Tristan raised over £3,000 each for Emunah and JVN – the Jewish Volunteering Network. “I started running three years ago and felt it was time to go the full distance. Having trained during one of the longest winters on record, it was hard to do my first marathon in the heat but I survived. The atmosphere was amazing and well-supported. Vibes resonated after the Boston Marathon [bombings]; I felt a strong sense of camaraderie – not competition – a shared experience of having to wear the black ribbon, and saying: ‘we won’t let terrorists dictate.’”
Veteran runner Flora Frank, a great grandmother and lecturer from Edgware, has raised a larger sum of which £2,000 will go to Emunah. She spoke of the half minute’s silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon and said: “We were told to put our hands on our hearts and it was very moving. Someone had put a paper bag on the road and I fell after 12 miles. I was bruised on my left hand but it didn’t deter me. I finished in six hours and five minutes. I think I did well considering the weather – it was difficult in the heat and I was very happy to get through the finishing line. Someone said: ‘you don’t look as if you’ve run the marathon’ and I felt elated.”
The other team member – Ruth Taylor, 33, from Watford, is an exercise co-ordinator at the Village Hotel, Elstree. Working in their Health and Fitness Suite, she met Emunah chairman Camille Compton, who persuaded her to run her first marathon. She finished in five hours and 5 minutes.
Deborah Nathan, Director of Emunah, said: “Our runners have shown tremendous spirit both in terms of training for the race and their sheer dedication towards raising funds. They have done us proud. ”
To support the charity visit www.emunah.org.uk/donate
Words by Sue LevyRead More
The finalists were: Zach Brandman, Rudy Brass, Joshua Daniel, Mark Englander, Natasha Fisch, James Harvey, Rafi Kelion, Annabel Lawrence, Amos Sharp, Ben Silberstein and Nicolas Veal-Baschwitz.
Eleven-year-old violinist Amos Sharp was “overwhelmed with joy” to be the second family member to be named as Emunah Young Musician of the Year. He impressed the judges at a showcase concert on Sunday 3 March at the Royal College of Music, beating ten other finalists to succeed his sister, the cellist Anoushka Sharp, who was last year’s winner.
The competition is run by the charity Emunah, a major provider of welfare services to vulnerable children in Israel and is held in conjunction with the Jewish Chronicle. The winner was presented with a prize of £500 towards musical instruments for their school by a representative of sponsor Wienerworld Ltd, Mrs Lily Broza.
This was the Highgate School pupil’s second time in the national competition and he also has a place at the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain, where he plays first violin. For his winning performance, Amos played Massenet’s Meditation from Thais.
Amos Sharp said: “I really wanted to win. I feel ecstatic, overwhelmed with joy. I wanted to play the most beautifully that I possibly could and to demonstrate that music has a hugely calming and uplifting effect because it ties in with the idea to use music therapy at Emunah’s children’s homes in Israel. My ambition is to become a world-class soloist and be able to perform to, and delight, audiences around the world.”
The winners were chosen by a panel comprising Malcolm Singer, Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, JC Editor Stephen Pollard, Teresa Cahill and Norma Fisher.
Announcing the results, Malcolm Singer said: “This has been a wonderful festival of music and we have enjoyed all the performances. The judges have had an interesting time trying to choose the winner and after much, much debate, it stays in the family and goes to Amos Sharp, for his fine playing, lovely tone, and real communication with the audience.”
Runners-up, 15-year-olds Rafi Kelion from Northwood, who plays flute and Annabel Lawrence from Leeds, who plays Bassoon, were praised for their “musical performance, articulation and shaping of phrases.” In addition, West Hampstead pianist Zach Brandman, 10, received an honourable mention for his performance of Schubert “remarkable in one so young.”
Continuing the family theme: Amos had been accompanied on piano by his father, David Sharp, and the concert included a cello recital by Anoushka as last year’s winner and his younger sister, the violinist Aviva Sharp, 9, was one of three ‘most promising newcomers who were invited to perform. The others were alto-sax player Sam Sher from Hampstead Garden Suburb and pianist Hannah Whiteson, 8, from Cheadle.
Entertainment included a gamelan workshop in which audience members could perform.
Afterwards, Emunah Young Musician Chairman Michelle Hirschfield paid tribute to the young performers, saying: “They have all given remarkable performances; it has been a tremendously enjoyable way of celebrating their talent while supporting those children who are less fortunate through the Lord and Lady Sacks music therapy programme at our projects in Israel. Amos is a truly deserving winner and we look forward to hearing him perform again at our fundraising events later this year.”
Words: Sue Levy Photo Credits: John RifkinRead More