“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
John F Kennedy
I have just returned from my first visit to Israel as Jewish Child’s Day’s Grant Manager, which was the most incredible experience. Anthea (Jackson), JCD’s Executive Director and I travelled around the country, visiting 23 organisations that Jewish Child’s Day has supported from Haifa and Hadera in the North to Kiryat Gat and Be’er Sheva in the South and to many places in and around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Sounds exhausting? It absolutely was! But it was so heart-warming and interesting and made all our efforts worthwhile so I mainly felt that I don’t want to stop now and I’m already looking forward to visiting other projects we support very soon!
The backgrounds and experiences of some of the children being supported were desperately sad, but in every organisation we felt the warmth and love for the children by the staff and volunteers. There are too many stories to share them all, but here are some of the highlights:
Many of the charities we support focus on the health of babies and young children – we visited organisations working with blind and sight impaired children (Eliya), physical disabilities (Adi) and those with learning disabilities (Keren Ezra Lazulat).
At Beit Micha Haifa, they run an assessment and treatment centre for deaf and hearing impaired children from 6 months old – early detection can make a huge difference to the child’s progress and Beit Micha provide intensive support up to the age of 6. In a pre-school class for 2-3 year olds, we watched the teacher using sign language to welcome the children in the morning and it was amazing to see the concentration and engagement of these very young children as they focussed on the teacher. Some of the children have hearing aids or cochlear implants and they learn sign language to communicate. There was such a warm and welcoming atmosphere and it was wonderful to see the patience and empathy of the teachers.
Waste not, want not
At Pesia’s Kitchen, the emphasis is on educating young people about the negative impact of food waste and distributing food that would be thrown away to poor families who are struggling financially and cannot afford to feed their children. At the back of a trading estate filled with huge shipping containers, we watched as staff loaded huge crates of vegetables into the backs of cars which were to be packaged and given out to families in need. There were carrots, onions, courgettes, aubergines, peppers and artichokes – which were bigger and better quality than you would find in many supermarkets in the UK and it was upsetting to think this beautiful produce would otherwise be wasted. During covid, they set up a soup kitchen and now prepare hundreds of bowls of healthy, nutritious soup every day, packed with vegetables, spices and filling beans and pulses. Volunteers distribute the soup in bowls to children and families in the poorest areas of Tel Aviv. Pesia’s Kitchen also run an educational programme through schools to teach children the importance of not wasting food. With a small team, Pesia’s Kitchen are making a big impact – rescuing food and making sure thousands of children receive a hot meal and have access to fresh fruit and vegetables.
A safe haven
Sadly, not every child lives in a happy, safe home and in the most severe situations, children in Israel are removed from their family home by court order to protect them from abuse, neglect, crime and dangerous situations. Fortunately there are many organisations who act as a safety net and we visited S.O.S. Children’s Village, ‘Megadim’ in Migdal HaEmek that was set up 40 years ago to look after children at risk. Today, there are 70 boys and girls aged 6-18 for whom ‘Megadim’ is their home. They live in 6 houses on the campus and each has a ‘house mother’ and adult supervisors (madrichim). The children have access to social workers and a psychologist who visits twice per week. The children attend school outside the village, but because of their disturbed lives, they are often far behind their peers educationally, so S.O.S. provides additional Maths, Hebrew and English lessons. Despite the tragic circumstances that has brought them there, the children seemed very happy and well cared for – walking around the campus with 7 year old Ari who volunteered to be our tour guide, it was heart-warming to see him getting hugs and high fives from every staff member he passed!
Last but definitely not least – JCD’s 75th Heritage year
Jewish Child’s Day awards grants to approximately 130 organisations each year and in 2022, our 75th Heritage year, we plan to award over £1 million in grants to charities supporting thousands of Jewish children in the UK, Israel and Jewish communities around the world.
My trip to Israel was emotional but also validated the essential work of
Jewish Child’s Day in the financial support we have given and hopefully will continue to give to charitable organisations in the future so please DON’T STOP ME NOW!
For more information about Jewish Child’s Day grants, please contact me, Adele Busse, Grants Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3307 6656 and to learn more about the BIG impact our grants have on the lives of children in need, please click here to read dozens of heart-warming stories.