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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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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Shrapnel falls on Emunah Day Care Centre

A large piece of shrapnel from an intercepted missile landed on the roof of the Emunah Day Care Centre in Bnei Brak on Sunday 3 August 2014.  Liora Minka, chairman of Israel Emunah said: “The children had left half an hour before to go home then we heard the siren and left the office.  We heard an explosion – it was an awful noise.  The police and military arrived and said they thought there was something on the top of our building.  Thank G-d no one was hurt – it was a miracle.  The picture shows the shrapnel after the security people brought it down from the roof.”

Last month [July 17], Emunah’s Beit Hagedy Day Care Centre escaped tragedy when rocket debris landed next to the building.

British Emunah is extremely grateful to all who have responded so generously to our  emergency appeal which has raised more than £40,000 over the past two weeks to provide additional staff, counselling and supplies for its centres in Southern Israel.

Click here to make a donation or call Emunah Head Office on 0208 203 6066.

Click here to visit our website and for more information about British Emunah’s 36 projects in Israel.

Thank you for your support.

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Israel at War – How Emunah Keeps Children Safe

Israel is at war and Emunah in Israel is working round the clock to ensure the safety and security of the children in our care.  Many of the children who Emunah looks after do not have their own family to protect them – they come from backgrounds of abuse, neglect and poverty.  Emunah is there to provide a safe haven and to give the children a chance of a better future.

Click here to view a short film made in the last few days – to see for yourself how Emunah is responding to the ongoing war.

Whilst we are extremely grateful to everyone who has already donated to our Emergency Appeal more help is still desperately needed as the war continues.


£18 – Provides toys for children spending long hours in a shelter

£50 – Provides a child with a one-to-one counselling session

£100 – Per night, to provide an additional night-time member of staff at the Neve Landy Children’s Village (4 are needed every night)

£200 – Provides materials for art therapy

£500 – Provide respite activities and entertainment for the boys in Neve Landy

£1,000 – Helps  to  provide additional  staff  at our day-care centres to ensure the children’s safety

£5,000 – Helps to provide the support of a child psychiatrist at our Crisis Centre in Sderot

Click here to donate online or call our Emergency Appeal Telephone Number 020 8203 6066 to donate by credit or debit card.

Cheques to Emunah can also be sent to Emunah – Emergency Appeal, Shield House, Harmony Way, London NW4 2BZ

For further information please contact Emunah Director Deborah Nathan 020 8203 6066 or email
Details of all of our 36 projects in Israel can be found on our website

In aid of British Emunah Fund

Reg. Charity No. 215398

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“I am frightened of the missiles….I can’t sleep at night”

Thank you to those who have already generously supported our Emergency Appeal.  However we are still receiving daily requests from our centres in Israel for more help that is urgently needed.

Day and night, the boys who live in Emunah’s Neve Landy Children’s  Village in Even Shmuel have just 30 seconds to reach their shelter when a siren sounds. They cannot leave the relative security of the home to take part in normal summer holiday activities because  the  surrounding areas are too dangerous to travel through. These boys are being cared for by Emunah as they have severe emotional and  psychological problems and they lack family support so the additional trauma and stress is all the more keenly felt.

Locked in a shelter for safety

We heard this week how very young children at an Emunah Day Care Centre in the South of Israel had to be kept safe by being locked in a  shelter for three hours as there was the threat of terrorist intruders in the area.  Keeping the children calm and distracted for long periods is an enormous challenge for Emunah’s dedicated staff.  Additional personnel, toys and equipment are urgently needed.
Please help us to create an island of calm in a sea of danger and uncertainty.


We need to raise additional funds to be able to respond immediately:

  • £18 – Provides toys for children spending long hours in a shelter
  • £50 – Provides a child with a one-to-one counselling session
  • £100 – Per night, to provide an additional night-time member of staff at the Neve Landy Children’s Village
  • £200 – Provides materials for art therapy
  • £500 – Provide respite activities and entertainment for the boys in Neve Landy
  • £1,000 – Helps  to  provide additional  staff  at our day-care centres to ensure the children’s safety
  • £5,000 – Helps to provide the support of a child psychiatrist at our Crisis Centre in Sderot

While we pray that all Israel will have peace  – we know that the effects of this war will have an  ongoing impact on our children even after the immediate crisis is over. Your support now is truly appreciated.

Click here to donate online at  or call our Emergency Appeal Telephone Number 020 8203 6066 to donate by credit or debit card.

Cheques to Emunah can also be sent to Emunah – Emergency Appeal, Shield House, Harmony Way, London NW4 2BZ

For further information please contact Emunah Director Deborah Nathan 020 8203 6066 or email

In aid of British Emunah Fund

Reg. Charity No. 215398

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Israel Under Fire – Help Emunah’s children today!

British Emunah calls upon our UK supporters to step up their financial support for children and families who are affected by the daily rocket attacks currently targeting southern Israel by launching an Emergency Appeal.

Director Deborah Nathan explains:  “The children attending the  British Emunah Netivot Day Care Centre have  been particularly badly affected as tension has increased over recent days. To provide immediate relief a respite day in the north was arranged at very short notice to allow the children a break from the stress and trauma that they were experiencing with constant sirens and red alerts.  At other of our day care centres we are paying for extra counsellors and extra food, as well as buying new toys and games to keep the children busy during the long hours they spend in the shelters at our residential home in Neve Landy.

Extra supplies are needed at our centres which cater for small children as it is essential that they did not run out of nappies, bottles and formula  A greater ratio of staff is needed at Day Care Centres which are allowed by the government to remain open as there must be enough adult supervision to be able to get the children to a place of safety in as little as 30 seconds. More manpower is also needed at the Sarah Ronson Crisis and Intervention Centre in Sderot which runs a 24-hour helpline and counselling services and where staff and clients are under enormous pressure, living so close to Gaza.

Israel is living with the reality of being under attack.  Emunah’s vital services are stretched to cope and to give the children and families in Israel the support they need at this difficult time. We cannot wait – help is needed now.

Please donate online by clicking here or call 020 8203 6066 and make a credit or debit card payment.  Cheques to ‘Emunah’ can be sent to Emunah Emergency Appeal, Shield House, Harmony Way, Hendon, London NW4 1SD.

Thank you.”

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British Emunah supporters take part in the Maccabi Community Fun Run 2014

Thank you to the wonderful nine runners who took part in the Maccabi Community Fun Run at Allianz Park on Sunday 22nd June.  Money raised through sponsorship will be used to support the Petting Zoo Therapy programme at the Sarah Herzog Children’s centre in Afula.  Albie Jackson, aged 11 (son of Wendy-Jane Jackson who looks after Emunah on EBay) ran the 5k in an impressive 29.44 minutes without any training beforehand!  A particularly big thank you must go to sisters Roxie and Saskia Leich who together raised over £750!  You can still sponsor the girls by clicking here. Please keep your donations coming!

Our runners were:

Esti Cohen

Benjamin Conway

Fiona Goldsmith

Jerry Goldsmith

Aron Green

Elisha Hoppen

Jenny Hoppen

Albie Jackson

Roxie Leich

Saskia Leich

Thank you to everyone who took part and chose Emunah as their charity this year. Make a date to run for Emunah next year – and get in touch!

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Celebrate Yom Yerushalayim with an iTunes download & help Emunah provide Music Therapy to children in Israel today

“Israel – Home of Hope” – the double-CD originally compiled by Emeritus Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks to mark Israel’s 60th birthday, has been released today on iTunes and all profits from the £3.99 downloads will provide music therapy sessions for disadvantaged youngsters at Emunah children’s homes in Israel.

Click here to download your own copy of Israel – Home of Hope.

The new charitable venture is thanks to Anthony Broza, Managing Director of Wienerworld, who negotiated the digital deal with iTunes having masterminded the original project six years ago together with Rabbi Sacks and the United Synagogue.

The compilation of Jewish and Israeli music ranges from early recordings, to modern and contemporary tracks and tells the inspiring story of the State of Israel through Rabbi Sacks’ poignant narration.

Commenting on the initiative, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks said: “The Israel – Home of Hope project is close to my heart and I am delighted it has now been made available to a global audience via the iTunes digital platform.  It is fitting that the proceeds should go to Emunah and specifically, to provide music therapy. Elaine and I were delighted when Emunah established a music therapy programme in our names, using the wonderful, healing power of music to help bring comfort to troubled young lives.”

Wienerworld MD Anthony Broza added: “To get 46 tracks on two albums as a single download is quite an achievement. When we released the album project some six years ago it was hugely successful and we are delighted that it can now be digitally heard and enjoyed by a worldwide audience, whilst benefitting Emunah’s music therapy programme.”
Emunah Director Deborah Nathan said: “We are touched by this generous gesture, which is a mark of the commitment that both Lord and Lady Sacks have shown to Emunah over the years.  We are also grateful to Anthony Broza for Wienerworld’s sponsorship of the Emunah  Young Musician of the Year competition which also raises funds for the Lord and Lady Sacks Music Therapy Programme.  Through highly effective therapies we quite literally transform the lives of vulnerable children who are now in our care.”

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Runners limber up to raise funds for Emunah in the London Marathon

Trainee accountant William Wolfson, 27, from Harrow-on-the Hill and Finance Manager, Jonathan Fenster, 53, from South Harrow, are running the London Marathon for Emunah. The charity, which supports disadvantaged children in Israel will also benefit from funds raised by great grandmother Flora Frank, 70, running under the Norwood banner.  Emunah Director Deborah Nathan wished them luck, saying: “We are really grateful for your supreme efforts in taking on this personal challenge as well as raising funds for children in need.”

Talking of the race, William Wolfson said: “This will be my first London Marathon although I did the Paris marathon in 2011 finishing in 4 hours 22 minutes, which I’d like to beat. I also ran Oxford half-marathon in October.  I’ve been doing between 10 to 13 miles at weekends and going to the gym in the week, but that stopped because I was busy with exams.  My great aunt is Lilian Brodie who is very involved with Emunah, so I know about the charity.”  A member of Hendon Reform Synagogue, William has raised £1150 so far towards his target of £1500.

This will be the second time that Jonathan Fenster has done the London Marathon for Emunah and he completed the course in 4 hours 32 minutes in 2009.  “I ran the first time because of a friend and said never again, but I got my arm twisted.   My training is going very well and I’ve recently done long runs, 19 miles and 17 miles, mainly on Sunday mornings, but now I’m tapering down.  All being well, I should be fit and ready for the day.”  The Hatch End Masorti shul member is hoping to raise £2500 for Emunah “because of the good work they carry out.”

Great grandmother Flora Frank, 70, from Edgware did the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday 21 March in 7:08:55.  What’s more remarkable is that Mrs Frank, a Jewish studies lecturer, did the Tiberias marathon in January (January 10, 2014) and now has a place in the Virgin London Marathon.  She’s a veteran of 28 marathons and when she goes the historic 26.2-mile race on 13th April, it will be her 29th full marathon!

Flora Frank said: “This was the first time that I have done the Jerusalem Marathon although I have done many marathons before.  I knew it was going to be hot but there were no half measures and I was determined to go the full way – out of respect for the city of Jerusalem.  But 26 miles is hard going, especially in the heat. I speed walk, I never run because I never have time to practice. I do it to raise money, that’s where my motivation lies, and because I love walking.  You are at one with yourself and it is just a wonderful feeling.”

Mrs Frank is a long-term supporter of Jewish causes and while she runs under the Norwood banner she gives a percentage of the profits to Emunah.  “My late brother was a resident at Ravenswood so that I am committed to the cause. Then I am Emunah’s representative at the Board of Deputies and an Emunah Executive Committee member.  When you think of all the good work they do for disadvantaged children in Israel, it is amazing.”

Flora has done the London Marathon 18 times before…

Totting up her achievements, she adds: “I’ve done the Tiberias Marathon nine times; Jerusalem once; and please G-d, this will be my 19th London Marathon!”

Emunah Director Deborah Nathan said: “We are full of admiration for Flora because she is an incredible role model for keeping fit while raising funds for children in Israel and her favourite causes.  She is just amazing!”

You can support Flora, William and Jonathan by clicking here to donate online

Good luck on Sunday – William, Jonathan and Flora!  We look forward to seeing you after the race. You are all incredible!

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Emunah crowns 2014 Young Musician and Young Singer of the Year

Ten-year-old pianist Elizabeth Kandelaki from South Hampstead (pictured with Sponsor Anthony Broza and  Chair of Adjudicators Malcolm Singer) has won the title of Emunah Young Musician 2014 after performing in front of a 350-strong audience at the Royal Academy of Music in Marylebone on Sunday afternoon.  A second accolade was won by 12-year-old JFS pupil Emma Sherrard from Mill Hill, who received the first ever Emunah Young  Singer of the Year award from Mitch Winehouse and his wife Jane.

Runner-up for the Emunah Young Singer of the Year award was Ilan Galkoff, 10, from Borehamwood, who has performed on the West End stage in Les Miserables and Oliver.

Held in association with the Jewish Chronicle, the national competition is run by the charity Emunah which helps disadvantaged children and young people in Israel through its network of children’s homes, high schools, day care, therapy and counselling centres.  Founded by Emunah’s Michelle Hirschfield, this is the fourth year for the competition which raises funds for the Lord and Lady Sacks music therapy programme.

“This is the first time that I have won anything – it is probably one of the best experiences in my life.  I am overwhelmed,” said Elizabeth Kandelaki, a pupil at the London Russian School of Music (formerly Belsize Music Academy).

Perfectly poised, Elizabeth impressed the judges with a fine and sensitive performance of Grieg’s Notturno.  She started playing piano and violin at the age of seven, with piano becoming her first instrument.  She also studies music appreciation and composition.  She will receive a cheque for £300 from competition sponsors Wienerworld, the indie music specialist, and perform at Emunah’s Guildhall dinner in December.

Attracting over 70 contestants from around the country, the contest was judged by a panel comprising Malcolm Singer, director of music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard, Teresa Cahill, Norma Fisher, Françoise Pierre-Geller and Marc Verter.

Violinist Amos Sharp, 12, last year’s winner, gave an accomplished recital while they deliberated over choosing his successor “as the standard was exceptionally high.”

Joint runners-up for the main title of Young Musician were pianist Alessandro d’Orazio, 10, and harpist Olivia Ter-Berg, 17.   Saxophone players Louis Isaacs, 12 and Jodie Bloom, 9, from Borehamwood, jointly won a woodwind prize in memory of Sara Freedman.

World famous cellist Steven Isserlis presented a cup in his name recognising the use of music for charitable purposes.  The recipients were ‘The Four Sons’ – Noam Bernstein, George Rosenfeld, Asher Levy and Jamie Rubenstein, who made a CD to raise funds for Emunah and two other charities.

Emma Sherrard, Emunah Young Singer of the Year, said: “I was shocked when my name was called out.  I thought it must be a mistake.” Singing Electricity from the musical Billy Elliot, she was the judges’ unanimous choice.  “It’s my favourite song from a musical,” she explained.  A member of the JFS singers, Emma was performing at the school’s winter concert where the competition was launched and had been persuaded to enter by music teacher and deputy head, Mr Appleman.

Although she has performed on stage with a local theatre group, Emma “gets shy of singing in front of her family.  I wasn’t allowed to come to the London heats where she was a class runner-up” explains her mother, Sara Sherrard. “At home she only sings in her room – I am shocked that she has won, but very proud.  The £200 prize for Wienerworld may get used for a voice coach for the talented youngster who would love to sing professionally.

Commenting on the event, Michelle Hirschfield said: “It has been a fantastic afternoon thanks to our incredible winners, runners-up, and all the talented young musicians and singers who have entertained us, while raising funds to help those less fortunate through music therapy.”

A special award was presented by Michelle Hirschfield to accompanist Daphne Coleman for her contribution to the competition over the last 4 years.

Photo Credits; John Rifkin and Graham Hirschfield.  Words by Sue Rifkin.

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