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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Please support “Team Emunah”

This Pesach, instead of putting together a glossy appeal, we are asking Emunah supporters to sponsor our eight dedicated marathon runners as a more cost-effective and efficient way of raising funds. We hope you will make a donation towards our vital work with ‘at risk’ children in Israel.

“Team Emunah” comprises Alison Cohen, Flora Frank, Claire Gothelf, Charlotte Hamilton, Marc Jackson, Uriya Nakash, Barry Sacher and Yonatan Wilson.  Each of these wonderful runners is putting in months of hard physical training in order to ensure they can complete the 26.2 mile course in the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 26 April, 2015.  13 Year old David Stone is running in the Mini Marathon and completes the team. Together with your help, they will raise much needed funds to provide the therapeutic, extra-curricular activities that are a life-line for the children in Emunah’s care.

Children come to Emunah having suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Some are orphans, while others have been affected by drug abuse or violence within the family. Those living in the south of Israel have been traumatised by years of rocket attacks and terror alerts.  At the Neve Landy Children’s Village and the Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre, the children that we care for are treated as if they were part of our own family. They will benefit enormously from activities such as music, swimming, football, basketball or horse riding.  For Emunah’s children these are not just fun activities, there is a real therapeutic benefit. 

Please donate today to sponsor “Team Emunah” and help to us raise the £20,000 needed to provide life-changing therapeutic activities for our children in Israel. 

Use the enclosed pre-paid envelope to send cheques made to “Emunah” or you can donate online at to individual runners or the whole “Team Emunah”.
If you prefer, please call us on 0208 203 6066 and make a credit or debit card payment over the phone.

Thank you for your support. It is greatly appreciated.

Wishing you a Chag Kasher V’Sameach,

Hilary Pearlman

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Joshua Pearl receives Steven Isserlis prize from Emunah

Hasmonean High School student Joshua Pearl,15, received the Steven Isserlis cup for the use of music for charitable purposes.  The head choir boy at Hendon United Synagogue and a soloist with the London Cantorial Singers, he also sings at Schonfeld Square in Stamford Hill and at other Jewish care homes.  Over Chanukah, he was asked to sing in five different venues and regularly takes services at Jewish Care’s Clore Manor in Hendon.  He has sung at SAGE care home and at Jewish Care’s Sobell Centre and has been asked to light the Shabbos candles and sing for the residents of Lionel Leighton Court.

“Not only does Joshua do all of this for charity, but he is delighted to use his beautiful voice to enhance synagogue services,” explained Deborah Nathan, Director of the charity Emunah, which established the prize at a request of an anonymous donor. Emunah supports ‘at risk’ children at its projects throughout Israel but the prize is open to anyone one in the community who shows a consistent use of music for charitable purposes.

In addition, Joshua helped Hendon United Synagogue’s Functions Committee to raise nearly £1,000 with his singing.  He also at Munk’s Synagogue, Golders Green.

His prize was presented by Emunah Chairman Mrs Hilary Pearlman, at the Showcase Final Concert at  the Royal Academy of Music in Marylebone.

Referring to his award, Joshua Pearl said, “I think it is a very good idea to use music for the benefit of others.  I like Jewish music and chazzanut and hope to be a professional chazzan. ”

His father, Mr David Pearl, added, “We are very proud that Joshua’s good work has been recognised in this way.”

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Emunah crowns its new young musical stars at showcase concert

Violinist Poppy McGhee, 10, from Somerset has become the fifth Emunah Young Musician of the Year in the competition founded by the charity’s Michelle Hirschfield. Her “sheer musicality shone through” when she played music from the film ‘Ladies in Lavender’ and showed “an unusual mix of confidence and modesty in one so young – she is a natural musician,” said Professor Saxton, chair of Adjudicators.

Nine-year-old Lucy Sherman from Leeds, the youngest entrant in Sunday’s showcase concert at the Royal Academy of Music, has picked up the Emunah Young Singer of the Year Award.  Handing out tulips to audience members as part of her act, she showed great theatricality as she immersed herself in the role of Eliza Doolittle to sing ‘Wouldn’t it be lovely?’

Together with the JC-supported Emunah Young Musician of the Year, the competitions raise funds to provide music therapy and support for ‘at risk’ children at Emunah projects in Israel.  Twenty finalists performed on stage in the Dukes Hall in front of a 300-strong audience.

JFS student Ruby Jacobs, 17, was runner-up in the singing contest, now in its second year, with Alessandro D’Orazio taking second place in the Young Musician category for his performance on the piano.

Lucy and Poppy will each receive a £250 cash prize from sponsors Wienerworld.

The winners were chosen by a panel headed by Professor Robert Saxton, who noted the high standards across both competitions, saying: “It is not just about talent – it is about hard work – no matter how good you are.”

The other judges were opera singer Theresa Cahill,  voice coach Francoise Geller and concert pianist Norma Fisher.

The other Finalists  in the Music Competition were Naomi Bazlov, Zach Brandman, Leora Cohen, Joshua Daniel, Ruby Jacobs, Yonni Levy, Hadassah Litvin, and Aviva Sharp. The other Finalists in the Singing Competition were Natasha Fisch, Izzy Grant, Brady Isaacs Pearce, Amber Lily Jacobs, Lucy Johnson, Millie Land, Natalie Sternberg, Sydney Vos and Abi Wander.

It was a double win for Poppy who also received the Sara Freedman brass/woodwind prize for her recorder playing – the accolade was jointly won with oboist Hadassah Litvin, 18, who attends the Grammar School at Leeds.

There was also a piano recital from last year’s Emunah Young Musician of the Year, Elizabeth Kandelaki, 11. Last year’s Young Singer, Emma Sherrard, 13, was away on the JFS Israel trip and has been volunteering at the Emunah children’s home in Afula.

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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 –

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

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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.


London heats results 2015:


Winner: Naomi Bazlov

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


Winner: Joshua Daniels

Runner-up: Leora Cohen


Winner: Leora Cohen

Joint runners-up: Aviva Sharp and Poppy McGhee


Winner: Ruby Jacobs


Winner: Poppy McGhee

Highly commended: Jodie Bloom


London heats results 2015:


Winner: Ruby Jacobs

Runner-up:  Natalie Sternberg

Highly Commended:  Aaron Spalter


Joint winners: Amber Lily Jacobs and Millie Land

Joint runners-up: Natasha Fisch and Abi Wander


Winner: Sydney Vos

Runner-up: Isabella Grant


Winner: Lucy Johnson

Runner-up: Brady Isaacs Pearce

Manchester heats 2015

YOUNG MUSICIAN (combined class)

Winner: Yonni Levy

Runner-up: Hadassah Litvin


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!


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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