American Friends of Neve Hanna

WELCOME TO THE AMERICAN FRIENDS OF NEVE HANNA!

Neve Hanna children's home — changing children's lives

Rosh HaShana 5776/2015

Dear Friends,

We want to take this opportunity to extend our best wishes to you and your families for the New Year and the upcoming High Holidays. We are pleased to update you with the latest news of our activities at NEVE HANNA.

Looking back to last years' turbulent summer, we are thankful for a quiet year during which we had the chance to work intensively on all our regular programs: therapy, remedial teaching, leisure and enrichment activities as well as religious education.

There are many highlights during the year at NEVE HANNA; we not only celebrate all the Jewish holidays together, but also the birthdays of all our children – our residents and our daycare program participants. Birthdays are, indeed, a “special affair” at NEVE HANNA! Chanukah and Purim are great fun too; and every year, our Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations are very exciting and anticipated by all.

For the second year, we held our main Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration in Jerusalem at the egalitarian Robinson Arch at the Western Wall with the Bar and Bat Mitzvah boys and girls and their parents and other family members, children of NEVE HANNA, staff and Israeli volunteers as well as volunteers from abroad. We traveled together to Jerusalem as a group on the Thursday prior to our weekend celebrations. In Jerusalem we were joined by Rabbi Liron Levy and our special guests: Janet and Irwin Tobin, the presidents of the American Friends of NEVE HANNA, and Debbie Zaluda, American Friends board member from Chicago. The moving Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony was followed by a festive luncheon in one of the hotels in the area (sponsored by the hotel management) and included a presentation by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah children. As always, prior to the celebration weekend, the children enjoyed the special NEVE HANNA gift: swimming with dolphins in Eilat. The entire Bar/Bat Mitzvah annual program consisting of seven months of study, special experiences and volunteer activities on behalf of the community concludes with a festive lunch at NEVE HANNA and a heartwarming Shabbat service.

Last year, our Israeli volunteers, who serve an additional year of national service prior to entering the IDF, undertook a unique project. Along with our German volunteers, our children worked on environmental issues such as recycling, and saving energy and water resources. They researched and explored healthy eating and food preparation. Within this context and thanks to support from the American Friends of NEVE HANNA with a very important donation from Larry Cohn in memory of his late wife Sandy, we were able to establish a greenhouse on the NEVE HANNA campus. The children were able to create an eco-friendly garden to grow our own vegetables. We will now be able to extend this project during the coming year, creating a meaningful enrichment activity for our children, serving our educational and therapeutic goals.

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In addition, the American Friends worked hard to further raise awareness for NEVE HANNA in the States. Over the past year, we have seen longtime friends as well as new friends visiting NEVE HANNA. Especially exciting was the visit of award-winning American top chef Michael Solomonov and his family. Born in Israel, Michael owns a number of highly rated restaurants in Philadelphia. We are proud and pleased that Michael made a special effort to visit NEVE HANNA; while here, he discussed various possibilities for ongoing cooperation.

We also want to thank the Claire Friedlander Foundation for their support for our tutorial program in math and science education. The children of Neve Hanna showed a marked increase in their grades thanks to the additional tutoring we were able to provide. Further, the Friedlander Foundation also provided emergency support for much needed and highly appreciated vacation time for our children during last summer’s rocket attacks. While, of course, there’s always more to report, it is fitting to conclude our letter with the words of "Roni" who arrived at NEVE HANNA at the age of 11 and left this year when she turned 18. In a very moving letter, she shared: "Looking at NEVE HANNA at the age of 18, I see different things than seven years ago, when I arrived at the children’s home. Let me start with the framework: the attention given to esthetics at NEVE HANNA, the trees and the flowers, the colors and the arrangements of the family groups make you feel welcomed and at home right from the start. Each family group looks different and yet they all have a common ground, to be a warm and loving home. This together with the fact that staff members are chosen very carefully proves that there is a well thought through rationale behind these matters, making NEVE HANNA an even more special place. Taking a deeper look, one has to realize that all the staff members of NEVE HANNA – the youth workers, the various therapists and social workers, the leadership as well as the volunteers – do not come to do simply their work, they give much more than that. They are always there, and we children know that we are secure, have all the help and support one can wish for, since the therapy programs, the remedial teaching as well as the vast enrichment and leisure activities all come down to one crucial matter: At NEVE HANNA you have the chance to grow, to blossom and explore and no matter what and when in our lives, NEVE HANNA will always be a loving and warm home." Again our thanks and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year! health and happiness.

David "Dudu" Weger, Director
Rachel (Rali) Loewenthal
Chaim Appel
Members of the Board