Chen-Bat Service at the Jerusalem branch
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Strauss representatives celebrate Purim with the children of Elia
Representatives of the Strauss company came to the ELI branches on Purim, danced and celebrated with the children and brought many sweets with them. The children and the staff really enjoyed the successful activities!
“A memory that burns in my mind is the Sabbath reception on Friday. I was with my father, who came to visit from the United States. We were thrilled by the tiny children and the ceremony they held. “Sam Foreman tells” In the First Person “about volunteering in kindergarten for visually impaired children.
About six months ago, I came to Israel with 320 other young people like me from around the world for a period of about a year, as part of the annual course of “Young Yehuda” – the youth movement of the Hadassah Women’s Organization, and in collaboration with the Jewish Agency’s “Journey”. As part of the course, we study Judaism, Zionism and Hebrew and choose voluntary activities in educational institutions, social associations and hard-working communities throughout the country.
When I started volunteering forIn Jerusalem at the ELIA Kindergarten (Association for the Advancement of Blind and Visually Impaired Children), I had high expectations, and the actual experience even exceeded them.
Elia Kindergarten, located in the Variety Center in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, combines blind and visually impaired children with children without disabilities. From my first days in kindergarten, I was fully accepted as a staff member. Two to four years, the class included two יFor blind religion, four students with severe visual impairments and all the rest had normal vision. In addition to the diverse nature of the class, a number of children were religious Jews, others secular, and one child a Muslim.
Every morning when I entered the classroom the kids got excited towards me and I started the day playing with them. Some activities were simple childhood games, but as I spent more time in ELI, I learned that even elementary missions help visually impaired children function in the real world. For example, to prepare blind children to read Braille, basic activities like placing pegs on a board with holes, Or sorting coins into the slot of a charity box, helping them develop essential skills for later in life.
The highlight of the week is on Sunday afternoons, when the children are taken to the Ramot neighborhood in north Jerusalem for horseback riding. When I joined the activity, I saw that the children were impatiently waiting for their turn to get on the ponies and did not want to leave when it was time to return to kindergarten.
Another memory that burns in my mind is the Sabbath reception on Friday. Although I did not volunteer on Fridays, I arrived that day with my father, who was visiting from the United States, so that we could experience the Sabbath reception together in kindergarten. When my father and I entered the classroom, two children were at the head of the class next to the kindergarten teacher: Shabbat father and mother.”Mother of Shabbat” helped to light the candles, and the kindergarten teacher told the whole kindergarten the Torah portion of the week. “Father of Shabbat” held a kiddush and the children ate challah and drank grape juice. My father and I left as we were thrilled by the level of knowledge of the tiny children and the Shabbat reception ceremony they held.
In Gan Eli I experienced supreme happiness and satisfaction. I thank the staff that received me and the opportunity that the annual course of the “Yehuda Hatzair” movement gave me to volunteer in such a fascinating place. I learned a lot and my Hebrew improved significantly through my conversations with the children. In Jerusalem, I will return to visit the garden.This volunteering is so far the highlight of my year in Israel. Of course I do not stop volunteering: these days I am moving to Bat Yam, for the second part of the course and here too I will surely have new and intriguing challenges.
When you come to Israel together with the young Judah’s annual course for a period of one year, and experience both studies and the opportunity to integrate into the community, the value is enormous. During this period we are given the opportunity to get to know the country and the people who live in it in depth. It is a completely different experience and much more powerful than the experience made possible through a personal and short visit to the country.