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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Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Shabbaton Choir with concerts in aid of British Emunah

An event to look forward too! Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Shabbaton Choir – with two concerts raising funds for British Emunah. Book tickets early to avoid missing out!

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Maccabi GB Lawn Bowls men and women visit Emunah Afula!

It was “BOTH THUMBS UP! for the visit from the indomitable Maccabi GB Lawn Bowls men and women to the Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre in Afula. Led by Stuart Lustigman, this terrific group of 70 bowlers came to visit Emunah Afula, learn about our work and have a great time eating, painting, and baking with our kids. Hands down (or thumbs up), this was a day to remember!

Channelling their inner child, the Maccabi GB Lawn Bowlers showed us that they are “all hands on deck” when it comes to supporting our children here at Emunah Afula. While some of the group were busy with the children, placing everyone’s handprints on our togetherness banner, the rest of the group and kids were working hard baking cookies.

Thank you all for coming and making our rainy day so much brighter!!!

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Matthew Jackson and friends tackle Kilimanjaro for Emunah!

A few months ago, Emunah supporter Matthew Jackson from Edgware and a group of friends decided to challenge themselves and to  trek up Kilimanjaro in Jan’16.  There are 19 of them going and having paid for it all they thought they should use the trek to raise some money for charity.

They have chosen a programme run by Emunah which helps severely “at risk” children who have been removed from their homes and have to live in care.  The Outdoor Training & Adventure Therapy programme at the Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre in Afula  helps these kids boost self-esteem, confidence and health awareness and combines that with team building and life skills.

Every penny we raise will go to the programme, the trip is totally self-funded by the participants and nothing you donate will be going towards their travel costs.

Please show your support for the group as they set out on this epic adventure.  We hope to see photos of them raising an Emunah flag at the summit of Kilimanjaro in January 2016.

Please donate via their just giving page by clicking here or visit Emunah’s own donation page and donate there.

Thank you! Good luck guys!

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Theresa May backs Emunah at Gala Dinner

Home Secretary Theresa May showed her support for Emunah when she spoke at British Emunah’s gala dinner on the 20th October,  where more than £250,000 was raised to support  vulnerable children through centres and services in Israel.  The impressive evening featured a conversation between Israeli politician Yair Lapid and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Welcoming the 450 guests, Michelle Hirschfield, co-dinner chair with Esther Lee, said: “We are very appreciative of your support for Emunah – your presence shows solidarity with Israel when yet again terror is being waged on the streets through stabbings, stoning and shootings.”  Two Emunah centres had been in lockdown due to nearby terror attacks and funds were needed to provide extra toys, security and support in addition to the charity’s existing commitments.

The Gala Dinner took place at The Roundhouse in Camden Town, which the Rt. Honourable Theresa May MP noted was “once a [railway] repair shed…  from turning around trains [tonight] we are turning around the lives of disadvantaged young people …  we are here to celebrate and support the work of Emunah, an amazing charity which does amazing things. “There is one aspect of British Emunah that particularly struck me – and that is how it first started in 1933 as a group of women volunteers helping children facing persecution in Europe… not just because of the altruism of those women but because the plight of refugees is very much on our minds.”

Now the third largest relief organisation for Israeli children, Emunah ensured that “thousands of distressed and disadvantaged children are getting the help and support that they need and deserve.  Young women, getting a chance for an education they might not have; children living with neglect and abuse getting shelter and support and those affected by violence and war.”

Israel’s deputy ambassador Eitan Na’Eh, Valerie Mirvis (British Emunah honorary president), Lady Sacks (Emunah honorary life president) and Board of Deputies’ president Jonathan Arkush were among the guests.

Emunah also got praise from Yair Lapid – member of the Knesset and chair of Yesh Atid, who came to London especially for the Emunah dinner and interviewed by former chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.  Topics ranged from media representation and BDS to matters of security.  Mr Lapid whose father was a Holocaust survivor, said: “Israel is threatened and terrorised again and not because of something they did.  It is because we are Jewish; it is a religious war, against the worst form of Islam.”

Mr Lapid congratulated Emunah on its “wonderful work” while Rabbi Sacks thanked British Emunah “on behalf of Elaine [Lady Sacks] and myself for what you have done is extraordinary.”

Making the appeal, Sky TV’s Samantha Simmonds introduced Emunah’s campaign film ‘Every Child Counts’; entertainment was by electric violin quartet Escala; and Emunah Klezmer Band and Super Group, comprising Emunah Young Musician and Singer competition entrants.

In her vote of thanks, British Emunah chairman Hilary Pearlman said: “There is only one thing to say – thank you for believing in Emunah at a time when the safety of our children is at the forefront of our thoughts.”  . Mrs Pearlman thanked everyone who had made the event possible, praising the work of the Dinner Committee and Emunah Events ExecutiveAfterwards, Mrs Pearlman said: “It was an incredible, most enjoyable evening that has raised significant funds to help some of Israel’s most vulnerable young people.”

More photos and coverage of the event can be see in the Jewish News by clicking here and viewing pages 26 and 27.

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This Rosh Hashanah you have the power to help ‘at risk’ children in Israel

You donation can help us to transform the life of an ‘at risk’ child. Please click here to support our 2015 Rosh Hashanah Appeal.

At Talia’s house violence was the norm. Her father had a vicious temper and she regularly saw her mother being assaulted. Talia wanted to protect her mother but was too scared to speak up, so she lived in fear. Sadly, life doesn’t always run smoothly for superheroes.

One night her father returned home drunk and attacked Talia’s mother so violently that she was hospitalised due to her injuries. Social Services stepped in and one year ago, Talia went to live at Emunah’s Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre as an emergency placement. Staff found her quiet and withdrawn and she didn’t mix with the other children.

Emunah’s professional and caring staff turned to music therapy to unlock Talia’s unhappiness. When the therapist played Talia a Russian folk song, she immediately responded, tears streaming down her face.  With patient support, Talia’s complex feelings for her mother and her anger at her father poured out and she began to heal.

Now she is starting to make sense of her traumatic experiences and rebuild her life. Talia also enjoys art therapy and with educational support is starting to excel at school.

Thanks to Emunah, Talia is a survivor of domestic violence, no longer a victim. She now shows resilience and strength: these are her super powers!

British Emunah relies entirely on donations to support 37 projects in Israel. This Rosh Hashanah, please help us to support Talia and the 10,000 other children in Emunah’s care by donating as generously as you can. Together we can transform the lives of Israel’s ‘at risk’ children and make their lives better.

Thank you and Shana Tova.

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Walk the Wall – a three day Sponsored Walk for Women

Why not join a group of 20 women taking part in a three day sponsored walk of Hadrian’s Wall?  Following the great success of Emunah’s previous walks we are back by popular demand! Call Alison on 0208 203 6066 to join – but hurry – its happening soon!

To sponsor the women who are already signed up please click here.

Thank you!

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Emunah Mother & Daughter Israel Trip 2016

Are you making plans for the February half-term in 2016?  The flights to Israel are available now and booking early ensures a great deal.  Why not reserve your place on the fantastic Emunah Mother & Daughter Trip and spend quality time together seeing a different side of Israel?

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Eden goes to Hollywood!

We are very proud of Eden has been invited to participate in the international Maccabi Games and Arts Festival to be held in August 2015 in Hollywood, USA, Emunah Afula’s very first representative.

Eden, a talented 16-year-old girl born in Ethiopia, is an accomplished dancer. Recently Eden choreographed an entire show for the Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre annual Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations, and then taught and trained 15 of her friends the steps and moves. The girls were amazing.

Eden was placed at Emunah 3 years ago, after her mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was unable to care of her children.

Last year Eden was one of a group of 15 children from the Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre in Afula  that were brought to the UK for a week’s holiday in December, thanks to the generosity of a group of women who fund-raised specifically for this trip.  Eden is pictured below outside Buckingham Palace (second from the right).

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Emunah Afula boys complete impressive coast to coast walk

In a fantastic display of courage and determination ten teenage boys from the British Emunah project, the Sarah Herzog Children’s Centre in Afula completed a 55-mile hike, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee. This four-day event was the culmination of months of leadership training and outdoor therapy in which the boys built up their skills and learnt to believe in their strengths and abilities.

The boys left the Achziv beach, near Nahariya and began hiking eastward, across the Western Galilee towards Tiberius and Lake Kinneret.
Taking turns as they hiked across the land, the boys carried a special Israeli flag, which they had all signed, expressing their deep connection to their homeland  and their allegiance to the State of Israel.
This achievement was the culmination of a unique hiking program which the boys had participated in for the last five months, during which they built up physical and psychological stamina.

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Tackling the hardest obstacles for Emunah

“It was one of the best experiences and an honour to part of this team to raise money for such a special charity.”

They did it! They ran 20km and tackled150 obstacles….it was the most amazing assault course experience. They ran, waded, jumped and swam through fields, mud, lakes and reservoirs in the freezing cold wind….  close to hyperthermia  but the team made it to the end in 5.5 hours. Thank you to the most amazing team mates Nadia Michaelson GreenbergZoe Carciente, Marguerite Mosafi ,Sasha Horne, Lara Goldsmith, Bernita Druian Shelley and Eliot Mosafi. And a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored them as they raised approx. £2400 for Emunah.

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