Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bet Elazraki Children's Home

This Postcard from Israel was originally written on 6 May 2000

Sometimes we read or discover something that has the power to change our lives. That's how I felt when I read an article about the Bet Elazraki Children's Home. It is the main home to 107 children ages four through eighteen, whose parents are unable to raise them due to mental retardation, drug problems, abandonment, alcohol abuse or a combination of the above.

Of the many people and issues that need support and action in our world, children in need touch my heart most deeply. After learning of Bet Elazraki's existence, the only thing on my mind was, "How can I help?" Realizing that I have it in my power to make a difference had an immediate impact on how I see myself as an immigrant to this country. It is one thing to learn a new language, build a home, put your children in school, make friends and find your way around. It is another thing entirely to realize that someone needs you, regardless of how long you've been here or how well you speak Hebrew.

Anyone who does volunteer work of any kind can tell you that the giver in such cases often receives more than the recipient. One of these benefits, I have learned, is a sense of belonging.

After first reading about Bet Elazraki, I made an appointment with the home's fundraiser, Debbie Paneth. She gave me a tour and explained many things about the home: its history, some general information about the children who live there, and many other things. Although government funding pays for such necessities as food, clothing, and counseling, the home relies on donations and volunteers for many other important things. For example, the children's clothing is mended by volunteers. Funding for professional tutors for the children comes from donations. Anything above the basic is provided by donors and volunteers, including toys.

These children are being given a chance at a better life. Many go on to study at universities, others serve in elite units in the army. But for now, I feel the children of Bet Elazraki deserve the things that I consider "basic" for my children: their own party clothes for Shabbat and holidays (as of now, the children have their own school clothes, but must share the clothing saved for special occasions), their own toys, cheerful decorations for the walls of their rooms, stuffed animals and dolls to keep them company at night. For now, I can help to provide at least some of these things. Later, I hope to help out by tutoring in English.

When I think of all the ways I can be involved in Bet Elazraki, I feel more positive about myself not only as a human being, but as an Israeli citizen. I am learning that the power of giving is incredible.

** If you are interested in learning more about Bet Elazraki Children's Home, please contact Debbie Paneth at panethsa@aquanet.co.il

(c) Amy Samin

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