Wednesday, July 18, 2007

US Youth Helping in Camps in Kiryat Malachi, Summer 2007

This summer the TIPS Partnership started a new program, a variation of a previous one we had had a few years ago. We advertised for youth ages 17 to 20 to spend 4 weeks working as counselors at camps in Kiryat Malachi. Three youth have fit in quite well here: Sarah Yamasaki,age 20, from the Seattle area, Evan White, age 18, from Phoenix, and Korey Silverman Roati, age 17, from Tucson. Sarah had been to Israel for a year with the Reform movement after graduating from high school. Evan had been here several years ago with the Macabi games, and Korey had been to Israel with his 8th grade class and was still in touch with several youth he had met in Kiryat Malachi on that trip. Evan excels in sports, especially basketball and baseball. Korey loves volleyball and will also be the editor of his school newspaper this year.

All were placed with host families. While Sarah's did not know much English, she took advantage of the situation to improve her Hebrew. She especially enjoyed sitting with the grandma (who speaks Hebrew slowly) and looking at family wedding pictures in the Moroccan Jewish tradition and helping the mother cook and prepare for Shabbat the first weekend she was here. Korey was hosted by the Attal family. Two daughters, ages 14 and 24 approximately were at home and both known spoken English well. The parents are always busy, but Korey soon learned how to fend for himself, cooking breakfast, etc. Evan had a host sister who was his age who showed him around town the first day. All three seem to fit in well with the families.

Sarah spent 4 weeks working from 8:30 to 1 at one of the "clubs" of the social services department with kids at risk. This club, Kalanit, has 15 youth in 4th through 6th grades that participate .
This is a photo of the outside of the "club." Like all schools, it is surrounded by a protective fence for security reasons.
During the school year the youth go there after school for support, and during the summer, the program switches to be a camp of sorts. They eat breakfast and lunch there, go to the local pool to play, have a fun field trip once a week, and participate in lots of other activities.
Hanging out before lunch.
Sarah helped with English, taught origami, and joined in many activities. One boy (in the upper right corner of the group picture above) said that she was the nicest and sweetest person on the staff.
The "house mother" Aviva prepared two nutritious meals for all those present.
Her first day at the camp was spent at the pool. Here she is playing with one girl who loved the attention.

The swimming instructor was in the pool with the kids too, but the other "counselors" were all sitting by the side of the pool.

From one to three, she helped the English teacher at Bayit Ham, a fantastic program for teenage girls at risk, most of whom are Ethiopian.
Here she is with the English teacher and one of the girls. This program helps keep the girls off the streets and away from difficult home situations, teaches them positive behavior, and helps keep them in school. It was created after ten teens (most of whom were Ethiopian-Israeli) in town committed suicide a few years ago.

Korey and Evan last week participated in the Community center camp, and this week and next are helping at a special camp called "Tzeva" for first through sixth graders also run by the Social Services Department. They have helped with sports, taught a bit of baseball, and joined in other activities, including chopping up fruit that a dietitian helped the youth prepare.
Evan helping to make fruit salad. The kids know how to chop up fruit much tinier than US youth would even consider doing!
Korey with Meir, the sports director
Korey and a friend
In the evenings, they have joined a soccer sports camp, which is part of a new program that TIPS has helped sponsor called Sports for All. 15 volunteer adults from town in their 20s donate their time for two years in exchange for sports leadership training and first aide classes.
A youth of one group. Evan left of center and Koren to the right of #4. A "grandpa" in the straw hat was also watching.
This was was only the second time that Evan had played soccer. The coach told me that Evan is very athletic and was holding his own. Over 200 youth (including some girls) are involved in this program, meeting with different coaches on different nights. 15 coaches are volunteers. They are youth from town, post army, who volunteer to help the youth and inexchange for receiving leadership classes at the Wingate Sports Institute and also first aide instruction. Many of them are Ethiopian-Israeli as are many of the youth participants. This program is entirely new this year and partly supported by the TIPS partnership including the Seattle Jewish Federation. The soccer field was renovated this past year with funds from a Christian-Jewish organization. "Keren Yedidut."

Although the three are not being "counselors' in the sense that they would have been in the US, they are leaving a very impressive lasting impression on this community--not just to these young children, but also with the staff with whom they are interacting. They too have the opportuntity to see in depth what it is like to live in a smaller Israeli town.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Projects our Seattle Jewish Federation is Supporting

The past few days, I have gotten to see some of the projects that the Seattle Jewish federation together with the Federations of Tucson and Phoenix are supporting in Kiryat Malachi and Hof Ashkelon, Israel though our TIPS Partnership. Some of these projects are just in the planning stages, but I was impressed by the discussions. (If you want to skip the projects, at the end of this blog are a few pictures and notes on a fun town activity.)

On Sunday night, July 8th, I went to a pool party organized by a group of Hof Ashkelon university students for the youth of the 19 regional moshavim and kibbutzim. It was a pleasant occasion because it marked one of the first time that high school youth from so many different, spread out places in the region (from just north of the Gaza strip almost to Ashdod) were together at a social gathering.

One goal of our TIPS partnership is to empower youth, so we have set up several projects that youth will be very involved in.

On the 10th I saw two moshavim where garden/outdoor renovations may take place. First I saw one possible garden renovation project at Moshav Beit Shikma which is a bit east of Ashkelon. About 88 member families are still involved with agriculture, and about 50 "new" families have built homes to there for the rural environment but commute to local cities to work.

The garden site is next to where the youth will have their own "caravan" club. The caravan (small trailer) should arrive in several weeks. The youth in this settlement will then have a place of their own to gather and will develop the yard surrounding it to enjoy and for picnicing.

The youth director for Hof Ashkelon took me to Moshav Heletz later in the day, a moshav a bit north of Sderot but (so far) not a target for qassam rockets from Gaza. There we met with their youth director (Tikva) and 4 of the youth. Two of the boys had just returned from a ten day leadership seminar. Another had been a youth leader in the moshav for 2 years already. The guys did an amazing job of brainstorming, and came up with a great idea which they named "Park Noar" (Youth Park). At this moshav, the youth do not have a room of their own. This plan would give them an outdoor area with cement or stone benches surrounded by a "fence" of shrubs. Since this is a fairly dry area with no rain for at least 7 months a year, such a meeting place is very doable.

It was very good to see how they came together. In both instances, the participants started out somewhat skeptical, but after working together, became positive, and especially the youth at Heletz with the encouragement of Tikva really were good to watch. Both moshavim do not have as many facilities for youth that most in the area have, and if their projects come to fruition, it would be very good for both of them.

We are also supporting the refurbishing of a place for the youth in the region to have their own gathering place so that they can feel more a part of the region and not just their own widely separated moshavim and kibbutzin. I saw the future site of the region youth club in a bomb shelter at the Hof Ashkelon office matrix. The handyman hopes to have the basic remodeling done in the next 3 weeks. Then the youth can start to add their personal touches, painting murals inside and out, etc.

Wednesday I sat in on two meetings in Kiryat Malachi. The town hired a new youth director two onths ago, and he really has vision. We are supporting a new concept called ART CITY which hopes to brings arts on both a macro and micro level to the youth in town. I went to a meeting of the staff in town dealing with the Arts and also to a meeting of the different advisors of the youth groups in town: Scouts, B;nai Akiva, etc. Since Shai, the KM Youth Director, came to town 2 months ago, he has created this umbrella group for youth group leaders, and it is a very positive move. They will meet in August for 2 days to set plans for the coming year. Since plans are often decided on a month-by-month basis here, both planning a year in advance and coordinating between the groups is a new step. THe new youth director is very impressive. He really has vision and quite a professional way of approaching tasks.

On Wednesday, July 11, from 5 to 7 in front of the Matnas (the town cultural center) , a young woman doing her National Service here together with support of the Youth Council organized a Meshumashuk, a flea market with fun booths for the town youth to do many crafts and games for just a shekel (24 US cents).
Used clothing and newly donated toys, baby shoes, and gadgets were sold for one to 3 shekels each. Kids also played games (and got small prizes at almost all of them), jumped on inflatable toys, made crafts, etc. with youth from the Youth Council and other groups as coordinators.
At the above table, children through coins at the candy on the table above. If the coin landed on the table, they got a piece of candy. (If it didn't they got another piece as a consolation prize, so it was a win-win situation!)
Dan, a 2006 high school graduate who also was a counselor in Seattle the summer of 2005, staffed one of the booths and got a good workout. Howard enjoyed talking to him for a bit. He is completing a special preparatory year called Mechina to help him reach a higher level in the army and has done quite well. He's a special guy (as are most of the youth we have met here) and we wish him the best.
Hundreds of people were present, and it was a great activity for the town. Over 9,000 shekels (more than $2000 US) were raised to help an organziation that helps peoplein town.

Time and scheduling while volunteering

Flexibility is the key word. One needs to be flexible in town as things do not always happen according to schedule.

Kiryat Malachi is just an hour or so from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem , but it runs at a different speed. Except for the grocery stores, most stores open at 9 ish (with emphasis on the “ish”) and then close from about one to 4 daily, reopening until 7ish. If there are no customers, the shop may close earlier, but if customers are in the store, the store stays open until the last customer leaves. If the owners have some thing else to do, they may close the store. One morning when we went to our favorite pastry shop, we were surprised to see it was closed. Returning two hours later, we saw it still was closed, so I asked the clerk in the next store why it had not opened and found out that the owner was at a bris. He never did open his shop that day, and he didn’t put a sign on the door to let people know. On Tuesdays, stores stay open until about 2 and then close for the rest of the day. Post offices break the rule and have their partial day on Wednesdays.

When people say to meet at 9, one should not panic if they are not there by 9:15 or 9:30. Time is much more fluid in K.M. than in Seattle .

People mean well when they say they will be somewhere at a certain hour, but often run into other people and stop to talk. If they didn’t stop to chat, others would think they were antisocial. The town is small enough that many people know each other. Just as we arrived into town this trip, we pulled into a gas station to fill up, and I soon heard someone call “Dina.” The English teacher from Etzion school had seen us drive by, changed directions, and pulled up behind us to greet us. People driving down the street stop and chat with others who are driving or walking by, causing one of the several kinds of mini-traffic jams in town. We have often been caught half way into our parking lot as two cars were pulled up next to each other, engines running as the drivers chat, or the driver of one car was talking to someone on the sidewalk.

Schedules often change at the last minute too. A much anticipated trip to an amusement park gets cancelled for lack of enough transportation, or a camp planned for the afternoon may also run in the morning—if funding comes through more kids can participate.

We have had English conversation appointments with kids and it is not uncommon that they arrive ten or fifteen minutes late. I went to a class for youth, and about a third of the attendies (20) arrived up to a half our late.

On the other hand, I have to be careful not to fall into the same habit. I arrived at the high school five minutes after I was supposed to the other day, and the person I was supposed to see was already busy with another project! Howard is holding conversations with youth starting a special four-year computer training program this fall, and almost everyone has been on time or early. We were very pleasantly surprised, and found out the reason was that they were told that
1) This was part of the testing for the program
2) Since the program would be mainly in English, a difficult tast for entering 9th graders, any extra practice in English would be desirable for them.

In any event, we learn here that we cannot be upset if others are not exactly on time but that we should not error too much on being off. If something truly delays us, we just call (as everyone has at least one cell phone) and let people know of our tardiness.

Shabbat Dinner in Kiryat Malachi

On Friday night, July 6th, I had Shabbat dinner with Nofar, a young woman I had met through the Youth Council in Kiryat Malachi. We had had Shabbat dinners in Hof Ashkelon, but this was the first one in Kiryat Malachi, and it was delightful. Quite a few Israelis have family Shabbat dinner together on Friday night, but a lot do not chant any blessings. We had been to several homes in the past that served wine and challah but did not chant the blessings. This home was more traditional.

Nofar picked me up outside the apartment at 8 p.m. Howard and I had spent the day with friends touring the Air Force Museum, so he was too tired to come to dinner. She had come with two of her nieces, ages 7 and 9, both dressed in cute white outfits, and we walked two blocks to the family’s home. As we walked down the street, most homes were behind solid walls at least 4 feet tall.

Nofar’s father died over 11 years ago when he was 47, I think of cancer. He had just come back from a trip. There is a huge painting of him above the living room sofa. Nofar’s mother is a pre-school teacher, and has taught for many years. Nofar is the youngest of 5 children, I believe, and the next youngest is 9 years older than she is. She has tons of nieces and nephews.

Two of her brothers live in town, and they were at Shabbat dinner (as always) with their families. The older brother has a daughter and a son, and he works for Magen David Adom (the Israeli affiliate of the Red Cross) in town. He lives quite nearby. His children go to HaAchim school, and he has been on the parent committee. His daughter had a cousin visiting. Her parents had lived in the States for a few years and her older siblings were born there, but she was born in Israel . The younger son is an architect and drives most days to Tel Aviv. I think he, his wife, and his two daughters live with his mother. They are more religious, and the girls go to the Chabad school. The parents say it is the best school in town for girls. (Chabad has 2 elementary schools, one for boys and one for girls. The boys just study religious material, but the girls study similar subjects as in the public religious elementary schools.) The wife was going to check with the school to see if they might want some easy readers in English.

Past the solid wall at the entry to the house, the family has a patio. On the left side of the patio was a pool with walls over four feet tall. They had just emptied it to clean it, but I am sure that a lot of Nofar’s nieces and nephews enjoy it in the summer. On the right side of the patio, a huge square table was set for Shabbat, and 12 of us sat around it.

It was very nice to have blessings before the meal. First the two sons sang Shalom Alechem. They repeated each verse three times. When I commented on it afterwards, they said that it was the Mizrachi tradition. Then they chanted Eshet Chayil (A Woman of Valor—from Proverbs). They chanted Kiddush, we all washed, and said Hamotzi. Unlike the custom I was used to with cousins, they talked between the ceremonial washing of hands and saying Hamotzi (blessing over bread).

Then food was served and there was a ton. There were at least 8 salads: one with chopped lettuce, beets, spicy tomatoes, tomatoes and cucumber, red pepper salad, cabbage salad, a bowl of green olives with a special Moroccan sauce (which was very good) and several more that I no longer can remember. She also made a huge bowl of couscous and made a vegetable soup as a kind of gravy. She also served meat balls, sliced pot roast, mashed potatoes, a whole roasted chicken, and Moroccan tuna. I focused on the Moroccan dishes and salads. I ate too much even though I kept on turning down dishes. I could not believe how much was on the table. Nofar kept on helping her Mom serve, and it was very hard for the family to get Mom to sit down. When I didn’t think any thing else could be served, out came the fruit. I could not turn down the fresh watermelon but I passed on the grapes, plums and peaches. The grandson Rafael (age 5 who was named for his grandfather) kept on standing next to me and reaching across me to get the grapes. I think he enjoyed the game.

Toward the end of dinner, a friend of Nofar's walked in and the two chatted. The two had graduated from high school together and was in the army, but home for the weekend. (Youth in the army are able to go home most weekends.) The friend looked familiar, so I hesitantly said, "Eden?" and she replied. It was Eden, a young woman that Howard and I had tutored in English the first summer we were in Kiryat Malachi (2003) before she and 3 others headed to Camp Solomon Schechter as campers for a month. What a surprise!
Nofar and I chatted a bit during the meal. She graduated from high school in June, 2006 and has been the navy over 6 months. She took a lot of tests and was just admitted into officer training school. She was to begin in 3 days and was quite excited. Getting accepted into the Israeli Navy in the first place is no easy feat, and starting officer training school is really great, especially for a young woman.

Last summer she was a counselor in California through our Partnership program. She said that having had the experience of being a counselor through a Jewish Agency program helped her get into the officers’ program. Women usually serve two years in the army, but she will serve at least 9 months more. I was quite excited for her and it was a delightful evening.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Israel Air Force Museum

On Friday, July 6, 2007, we went with our friend Haim Ron who lives about 20 minutes north northwest of Beersheva on Kibbutz Shuval to the Israeli Air Force Museum.

This Museum opened to the public in June 1991. It is adjacent to the Hatzerim Air Force Base, just outside Beer Sheva. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 am to 5 pm and on Friday and holiday eves until 1 p.m. We got there about 10 a.m. on Friday and saw a lot in the two + hours we were there. Admission was 28 shekels (about $7) for adults and 21 shekels for seniors. Haim had not been there for several years and saw new additions that had not been on view for his previous visit.

Planes on exhibit range from a single-engine plane used in the 40s to go between settlements and some wooden-canvass planes to other airplanes bought chronologically from the Czech, Great Britain, France, Italy, planes they built on their own based on French design, and finally the US (in the 70s and later). (The US would not sell to them until the later date.) There are scores of different planes on exhibit including Spitfire, Mustang, Mezek (Czech version of Messerschmidt Bf 109), Avenger, Gloster Meteor, Ouragan, Mystere, Super Mystere B-2, Mirage, Kfir, Nesher, Vautour, Phantom, Skyhawk, Lavi and many others. The helicopter collection includes Huey Cobra, Gazelle, Defender, Super Frelon, etc. Captured enemy planes include the MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-21, MiG-23, Vampire, Hunter. Aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons, missiles and radar systems are also exhibited in the museum. I know nothing about these planes but both Haim and Howard are military history buffs, so they shared a common language. Anything there was supposed to be out of commission. Enjoy the pictures below and our short commentary!

In an open shed under some shelter, we saw some objects often used in parades nowadays. They included a wooden canvass plane used in the 40s.

There was also a one-engine tiny plane brought to Israel in 1946 to transport weapons to the Jewish settlements before and during the Independence War and also to do reconnaissance afterwards. IT was called the Auster J/1 Autocrat or "Primus" when it arrived here. It was originally used by "Sherut Avir" or Air Service, the name used before the creation of the State of Israel.

During that war, Israel bought some German Messerschmidts from Czechoslovakia. Arms dealing had always been a big business in Czechoslovakia. Israel just had gotten them assembled when the last cease fire took hold. These planes were not great, according to Haim.

We also saw Israel's first simulator in that covered area and some guns used in the War of Independence.

This is a medium-sized anti-aircraft gun, manufactured in Belgium in 1914. It was used in the 1948 war, many by women who "manned" such guns.

Manufactured in 1944 in Czechoslovakia, this anti-aircraft gun was used by a woman in July 1948 at Kibbutz Ruchama to shoot down an Egyptian Spitfire.

During the 40s, the Jews of Palestine had to collect and hide guns because anything that the British found, they confiscated, as they did not allow the Jews to own them. In around 2005, a cache was found underground at Kibbutz Givat Brenner. The picture below shows the rusted barrels in which they had been stored and the next picture shows the guns.

One of the earlier planes that Israel bought was the Mustang. It was made in the US and was World War II surplus. Israel did not buy them directly from the US. The one we saw was supposed to be able to cut phone wires, but the hook on the back didn't work very well, so often the pilots had to use their propellers to cut them. That had to have been super-risky!

You can see the symbol on the side of the plane (close up)that shows it was used for snipping wires. This surplus WWII plane were the fastest propeller planes built, but they were soon replaced by jets in the early 50s. (Howard says that jets came out during the end of WWII and Germans actually used them to shoot down bombers at the end of the war.)
Israel bought its first jets in 1953 from Great Britain, the Meteors. The Royal Air Force used these airplanes quite successful until the mid 1970s.
Meteors in a row
One Meteor closer up

The IAF bought the Ouragan from France in 1955 and continued to by French jets for many years. This single seat jet bomber had a range of about 550 miles and could go about 560 mph, and was used until early 1973.

The next French jet purchased after the Ouragan was the Mystere. The Mystere was called Sambad in Israel and was in service from 1958 to 1975. It was the first to break the sound barrier. These planes took over more of a support role after the Mirages were introduced in 1963. From 1968 on the Super Mysteres were given American engines and then called Sa'ar and sank 2 ships in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The next jet purchased was the Mirage. This plane was in use from 1962 to 1982 and was the first Israeli plane to go twice the speed of sound.

After taken out of service, all of the Mirages were sold to Argentina. The Mirage above was quite special since it shot down a total of 13 enemy aircraft during its service in the IAF. Some Israelis felt that this plane should be brought back to Israel, and a private individual raised the funds to bring it back and put it on display.

After de Gaulle came to power, he wanted better relations with the Arab countries, so he did not allow Israel to purchase any more planes from France. An engineer in Switzerland managed to steal the plans of the Mirage, and the Israelis then built the Kfir, which was a modified version of the Mirage with a more powerful American engine. The engine had to take in more air since it was bigger, so in front of the tail on top, the Kfir has an extra air scoop. The designers also put Cannard wings (little wings above the main wings) on it that made the Kfir much more maneuverable.

Kfir with bombs along side

Note the extra wing and air vent on top

Israel designed their next generation fighter, called the Lavi, to replace the Kifr but it was so similar to the US F-16 that they bought the F-16 instead of producing their own plane.

Now the IAF planes are the F-15 and F-16; the F-15 is a big fighter bomber like the Kfir and the F-16 is a smaller fighter.

The Tzukit has been used as a trainer plane since the mid 1980s. It was one of 5 planes visitors can climb on. Here is a picture of us in it plus some the control panel (in English) and switches on the side (in Hebrew).

It was fascinating to hear about the history of the development of the Israeli Air Force. If you want to check out the website, just go to:

If you are not tired of seeing pictures now, here are some other planes and other objects of interest that we saw that the museum:

On the left is the normal flying suit used by pilots. On the right is one costing $250,000 for use when pilots fly above 35,000 feet.

This is one of the Russian-made MIGS captured by Israel and also parts of one shot down. At least one plane landed here by mistake from Syria and at least one more landed when a pilot defected from Iraq. Howard is standing next to small drones which were used by Israel for reconnaissance. Israel developed these drones and sold them to the US.
Nope--not a plane. This is the only automobile ever developed in Israel. The factory was in Natzrat in the 1960s. The kibbutz I lived on in the early 1970s actually had one of these Susita cars.
There were also a number of helicopters and missile systems on display, so you will just have to go to the museum some day to see them!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Senior Center in Kiryat Malachi

Many areas in Israel have adult day centers for seniors who need extra support. They are very similar to those in the U.S. The one in Kiryat Malachi services over many people, most of whom immigrated to Israel.

Since a chunk of money given toward the building of the center was donated from the US, the name of the center (The Harriet and Ben Teitel Day Care Center for the Aged) is featured prominently in front in English, though many of the elderly do not read English. Since the center is only two blocks from the volunteer apartment, it is easy to get to. The staff is so nice that I always make sure that I visit.

The director Herzl Morad is a miracle worker. He lives in Jerusalem, but his heart is at the center. The daily program is light most centers in the US, with 90 men and women coming Sunday through Thursday from 8 or 9 to early afternoon. They can participate in a crafts program that mostly women participate in, exercise, lectures on religion, health, and other topics of interest for those able to follow, dominos and other games, andthey enjoy a nutritious breakfast and lunch. The program is run by a non-governmental agency, butsSome of the funding comes from government pensions, but those who came to Israel late in life are not always covered. Somehow Herzl finds a way to get the funding for them to come. Because the seniors get limited services, some people do not come every day and opt for other services.

Yael, the director of the crafts program, is leaving in September after 5 years of service, beginning when she was pregnant with her last child. She is certified to teach arts and crafts as well as carpentry, and her dream was to build a modest carpentry shop at the center so that some of the more capable men would have something to keep them busy. To date, the center has not had the funds to fulfill her dream.

One lady, Madeline, with a patch over one eye loves to make baby booties. She is making a pair now with the multi-colored yarn that I just brought, donated
by a friend in Seattle.

Another woman loves to embroider and makes very nice challah covers.I had brought some of my mother’s costume jewelry for them to use in their crafts, but the ladies love them and Yael let them choose some to wear. I’ve also brought donated material remnants at least a foot square, and the women use them to make other projects including purses.

A new program in the center is a social group for Ethiopian women, which is funding through Portland, Oregon. Until recently it shared space in the WIZO center, but Herzl arranged to move them in with the other seniors. They range in age from 50 to 74. Over 25 participated at one time, but a few have died, and others cannot always make it. They meet Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9ish to around noon.

Yeshabik, ? , Eskiva, Rachel
Their crafts are for sale including small baskets with lids, hot plates, and fruit holder from palm fronds and ribbon. They also embroider matzah & challah covers as well as pictures of animals and hamsas that can be ironed, stretched and framed. It is all handiwork that they learned in Ethiopia. They also make baby dresses that they embroider. The women sell the items at reasonable prices. For example, I paid about $24 for a fruit plate, while a volunteer from Tucson paid $12 for a small basket and $5 for an embroidered hamsa. I took a picture of the woman who made the basket I had bought as she proudly held it.
Eskiva holding the basket I bought from her

Prices depend on the quality and size of the work. Each woman gets half the money directly, and the other half is used for snacks, parties, and short trips for them. Since many came to Israel late in life, they are not covered by social security but he feel strongly this group belongs in the center. Sara Sahalu, the wife of the Ethiopian Rabbi in town (trained in Jerusalem) directs the program. She just had their seventh child (a son) in mid July and will be on maternity leave for 3 months, but before that since school was out, she was often accompanied by one of her older daughters, ages 12 or 10. They too have learned to do embroidery.
Herzl will soon be getting them a refrigerator too. The one thing this room does not have that they did have in the WIZO center was a sink and small oven/stove, but they are delighted to have a place of their own. The women are so nice. Two are embroidering a shirt of the current volunteer, Terrie.

There are several other programs at the center. One is called A Supportive Community. Some of the same people participate but there are others that fall through the cracks and don't fit in other programs. For between $10 and $20 a month, these people can partiipate in a variety of activities, one to three times a week. For example, this week there will be a dance for them. There hafe been a lot of social activities, including a barbecue, exercise in the local pool, trips to hot springs and enjoyable local areas, and medical support and information/advice. It is a wonderful program, but only 100 have signed up. If he could get a half scholarship for a year for up to 100 more people, he thinks that he could get them to sign up, learn how great it is, and then continue after they no longer have the introductory "scholarship." So if anyone or any organization might want to contibute toward this, it would be quite a mitzvah for the elderly of this town and it would help keep this program running as with fewer than 200, it runs at a deficit.

The center also employs several young adults with special needs. I’ve seen a young man and a young woman sweep the dining room and help set the tables. I’ve also met three other interesting people. One is a woman around 40 named Osnat. She is the cook for the entire program, preparing breakfast and lunch for those who come and also for shut-ins. When the volunteer apartment needs cleaning, Herzl sends her. She did a great job for us on Monday. Ester is a woman about 84 who volunteers in the kitchen area. She peels vegetables and helps set and clean the tables. She usually comes from 10:30 to about 2. She immigrated from Morocco in 1964. There she had worked for the US Military, so she speaks English quite well. She was married, but her husband died young and they had no children. She has a brother in Jerusalem and a sister in Beersheva, and has lived independently in Israel for over 40 years. She knows the town well and will take Terrie, the other volunteer, to the market on Monday to look for bargains. The third person is Michael Saban. He is the driver who brings the seniors from home in the morning and then returns them after lunch. A career military man also born in Tunis, he started as driver a few years ago and loves it. His wife retired a few years ago from teaching, and my husband and I spent two pleasant evenings with them last summer. Unfortunately, just after we left, she found out that she had cancer, and she passed away very quickly. In spite of such sadness, he carries on with a smile at the center.

In February of 2006, youth from the High School of Jewish Studies spent two days in Kiryat Malachi and did several service projects together with Israeli peers. One project was to clean up an area and plant a garden there. In the next two pictures, you can see how it has flourished! BTW, several volunteers have enjoyed spending time at this center, helping in the crafts area, learning about Ethiopian weaving, helping the cook prepare meals, and chatting and playing dominoes with the people that come.

The seniors love the gardens and the grass and shrubs in front of the center too. Herzl has to spend over $200 a month for watering the plants and for someone to weed and feed them. Whenever he has to save money, he wonders how long he can continue to keep this lovely area green.

The center used to get some funding through our Partnership, but since we have focused our core funding on youth and young adults, we no longer direct funds to them. The Portland Federation, which is no longer a part of our group, has given money to the center for a number of projects, including a new refrigeration system when the old one died. It is still quite a juggling act for Herzl to cover the basics, however.

Herzl has just set up a tiny room with five used Pentium III computers for which he paid $250 each. He hopes to use them for seniors to play games to keep their minds active, to read newspapers online from their countries of origin, and to other activities that can be generated from the group. He will need about $1250 to get the computers networked and then $70 a month to keep the computers online. If you all know of any computer enthusiasts that would like to donate to this project, it is something that can be done through the TIPS Federation partners.