Hannah and Chloe, the Jewish Free School, and Yad Sarah’s Special Children
Hannah Nathan and Chloe Rich are two very special young ladies.They and their families are close friends of Michael, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.Whenever Michael visits Israel, Yad Sarah arranges that all the medical rehab equipment he needs and our transport services are ready and waiting for him. Michael constantly praised Yad Sarah's services.Further all the moneys he received for his 40th birthday he donated to Yad Sarah to pay for 9 emergency alarm systems that were installed in the homes of elderly people. Instant help at the touch of a bracelet button!
Hannah, year 9, and Chloe, year 8, students of Jewish Free School, Kenton, London, were very impressed with Yad Sarah’s health and welfare support services for handicapped and/or sick Israelis and visitors to Israel. They checked our website and decided that we were the cause for them!
They devised and organized a hugely successful High School Musical party at Barnet and District Synagogue, New Barnet, forsome 40 young pupils(ages 7 – 10). Each child performed a song or dance in a talent show and then watched the High School Musical movie.Hannah and Chloe’s mothers organized the food for the event. (Thank you Mums) The girls organized and obtained gifts for a raffle and decorated the Synagogue Hall.
Hannah and Chloe raised a considerable donation for more special games and toys for Yad Sarah’s Play Centre and Toy Library for Children with Special Needs at Yad Sarah House, Jerusalem.
Some 85 JFS pupils, including Hannah, recently visited Yad Sarah House Jerusalem. They saw the Play Centre and other of the organization’s many services in action.They volunteered to clean wheelchairs and were a huge help. A great time was had by all!
All our volunteer guides and everyone who met the JFS students were very impressed with their caring concern for others and their enthusiastic interest in everything they saw. We look forward to many more visits from JFS students. Well done the Jewish Free School!
Sinai Temple of Los Angeles Lends a Hand to Yad Sarah
by Dana Baryam, Yad Sarah Volunteer Intern
"I see the selflessness here; people just come and do these things that help others," said David Gole, 15, as he adjusted the wheel on a walker he put together. The many volunteers within Yad Sarah's equipment lending service - out of 6,000 volunteers total nationwide - received helping hands from participants of Sinai Temple of Los Angeles' Israel trip, led by Cantor Joseph Gole. Recently celebrating her Bat Mitzvah, Morgan Geller, along with her family, joined the tour. Like David, Morgan too was passionate about the hands-on volunteering. "I like that I'm making something I know will actually help someone," noted Morgan.
The clattering metal and squeaky-new wheels of walkers being assembled was music not only to the cantor's ears, but also excited the younger generation of Sinai Temple. "I think I'd like to do this for my Bat Mitzvah project," said Chelsea Karp, 11. Proud of her daughter's desire to take part in a mature and responsible path, Chelsea's mom, Kathryn, was equally moved by Yad Sarah's work. "If we wouldn't be here, six people wouldn't have the independence to walk."
Many people were inspired as they briefly learned about Yad Sarah's efforts worldwide such as in Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Angola. "This is a great model for what should be done in the US and around the world," said Cantor Gole. And Sinai Temple serves as a universal model for communities, placing compassion and action hand in hand.
[top photo: Kathryn Karp shows daughter Chelsea how to properly attach wheels]
[bottom photo: David Gole and Morgan Geller work together assembling a walker]
Bridgeport Community Mission, in Israel for Independence Day, Visits Yad Sarah and Learns About Independence for those with Special Needs
Members of the Bridgeport, Connecticut Jewish community traveled to Israel to celebrate Israel's Independence Day, and appropriately visited Yad Sarah – one of Israel's largest volunteer organizations. The Bridgeport community mission's stop at Yad Sarah was of particular interest since in recent years the Greater Bridgeport Israel Action Committee of the UJA/Federation of Eastern Fairfield County has sent proceeds to Yad Sarah from its annual Israel Independence Day Fair. The proceeds are used to purchase medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and oxygen concentrators for free loan from Yad Sarah's equipment lending service.
The Bridgeport community mission, an annual trip comprised of a cross section of the community, included Alan Feldman, the visionary who launched the idea of the annual mission, and Laurie Gross, CRC director at the UJA/Federation of Eastern Fairfield County. Participants Richard and Shirley Becker, retired small business owners from Fairfield, could relate first-hand to the services offered at Yad Sarah. Shirley had recently suffered from a broken hip, a most difficult experience for her. "People don't think about these things, people still think they're invincible, until it could be you. It's wonderful to have comprehensive services in one agency," remarked Shirley.
On the tour, mission participants assembled walkers for loan. "Hands on helping is much better, it conveys what we are trying to accomplish and gives a keener sense of Yad Sarah," commented Cynthia Goldstein, a retired high school Spanish teacher. Participant Marcia Saft, of Fairfield, plans to settle in Tel Aviv, and was delighted to learn of Yad Sarah's branches in Israel's city that never sleeps. Marcia hopes to volunteer there in the future.
The Bridgeport community mission's visit to Yad Sarah during the week of Independence Day, reminds us, that every day, Yad Sarah's is working to bring independence, freedom, and accessibility to all.
[middle photo: While touring Yad Sarah, Shirley Becker (black baseball cap) builds a walker to be used in Yad Sarah's lending services photo credit: Devorah Kravitz ]
The people of Congregation Or Ami want their shul to be more than a place of worship. They want their synagogue to be a true Jewish center. They want it to be a center for Jewish learning, helping Israel, and helping the less fortunate. So it is little wonder that they would make a trip to Israel and make Yad Sarah, the headquarters of good works, one of their most important stops.
One day, a few weeks ago, a small group of Or Ami congregants made a visit to Yad Sarah. They were a bright, attentive and enthusiastic group of people, especially when they were pounding together the walkers!
We were fortunate enough to get to talk to a few of these fine Pennsylvanians. Here's what they had to say:
Fredi Wolgin typifies the kind of fiercely Jewish, Zionist congregant of Or Ami. Fredi, a pediatric nurse practitioner, is in love with Israel and wants to come back and try it out here for six months. She was so impressed with Yad Sarah that she wants very much to volunteer. "I would so love to volunteer here and work with the kids in special needs. But anything that Yad Sarah would need of me, I'd be more than willing."
Brian Kroker, who is involved in real estate, has lead such a busy, active life that this was his very first trip to Israel. Brian was completely blown away by "the amazing array of services offered, this beautiful building, and that there was Yad Sarah branches all over. I'm just so impressed."
And finally, Rabbi Carr, the leader of this fine group explained his reason for wanting to take his congregants to Yad Sarah. "We just didn't want to learn about an organization, we wanted to do something to help it. And this tour completely fit the bill." About Yad Sarah, the rabbi was very taken by "the great effort they make to help so many different populations with so many different sorts of programs."
But what says everything is what kind of good, solid young people this congregation has produced. One of them, Brian Price, 11, shovels snow for 4 of his elderly neighbors every time it snows. And the young Mr. Price refuses to take a cent for his hard labor! What a kid. What a congregation. It is people like them that help keep Yad Sarah thriving.
What a bunch of troopers a group of visitors from the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires were. Here they were, after a full day of schlepping and sightseeing around Jerusalem in the pouring rain, eager to see everything there was to see at Yad Sarah. They had heard so much about the organization, and their Federation has supported Yad Sarah for some years. Now they were finally getting to see it for the first time as a group.
Many in the group could not believe how many services Yad Sarah offers for free and how it is all done with virtually no government support and with such efficiency. "Everything is run so professionally and everything is just so clean," commented Didi Walker, who would love to volunteer at Yad Sarah if she lived in Israel.
The group also had an opportunity to lend a hand and volunteer during their tour, assembling some walkers. Arlene Schiff, executive director of the Federation, recounted how the Federation discovered Yad Sarah approximately four years ago through a donor, and the Federation has been contributing towards the purchase of wheelchairs ever since. "Israel is very lucky to have Yad Sarah," remarked Schiff. "It's incredible that 1 in every 2 Israelis are touched by it."
Participant Henry Vorenberg is no stranger to Yad Sarah, having visited many times. I'm always impressed by the "amazing devotion of its volunteers and staff." How wonderful that the stop at Yad Sarah was one of their last in Israel. It's a warm memory these troopers can relish during the cold and snowy Berkshires winters.
If Yad Sarah was ever to start a school, it would probably look a lot like Yeshivat Lev Hatorah. Located in Ramat Beit Shemesh, This unique one year study program for English speaking post-high school teens, believes, that central to Judaism is the call for each individual to be involved deeply in one's community and in doing Chesed (good works). So incorporated into the yeshiva's weekly schedule is ongoing volunteering at a soup kitchen, conducting food drives to help feed 50 families, and students involvement in the life of an orphan.
So it was quite natural that the students of Lev HaTorah would come to visit and volunteer at Yad Sarah, the house of Chesed. 25 rambunctious, funny, curious 18 year old boys came bounding in to the Jerusalem headquarters. They sat on electrical rising recliners, tested out wheelchairs, and loudly and enthusiastically banged together walkers. And when they weren't kidding around with each other, they could be quite serious.
Max Oppenheimer, from St. Louis, is loving his experience at Lev HaTorah. He felt from the first day the warmth of the yeshiva. "It's like a family, the rebbeim, the kids, everyone." Max is also enjoying the eclectic mix of studies, in addition to Talmud study. As for Yad Sarah, he was "awed by the 24 hour a day personal alarm system," and by the sheer amount of volunteers. "6,000 volunteers, that's just, like, insane."
Daniel Hechter, of Woodmere, New York, picked the yeshiva especially for the emphasis on midot - how one behaves day-to-day. He was impressed with Yad Sarah. "I thought you guys only did walkers, but now I had an eye-opener, like you really do it all for old people."
And the rest of the boys seemed similarly impressed by the breadth of Yad Sarah services. They could not believe that 6,000 people all over Israel work hard for free. And that the all the incredible array of services were available to everybody regardless of their ability to pay.
That's why Yad Sarah loves having visitors. For it not only opens peoples eyes to everything we do, but it also gives us a glimpse into our future. For as long as Israel has such exceptional educational institutions like Lev HaTorah, producing such broad minded, community aware, caring, thinking individuals, Yad Sarah will be well supplied with exceptional volunteers needed to ensure a dazzling future.
"I was here twenty-five years ago when Yad Sarah was just a square box, and this is unbelievable!," comments Irene Bolton of Temple Beth Or of Washington township, New Jersey. A recent delegation from TempleEmanu-El of Livingston, New Jersey and from TempleBeth Or took time from their respective missions to Israel to visit Yad Sarah in Jerusalem. Upon arrival, the group heard of the organization's contributions to the Israeli community from Yad Sarah's Daniel Sheer. "While Israeli society is divided on many issues, be they religious, political or economic, Yad Sarah is a place where Israelis join together towards a common goal of building a healthier and kinder world," explained Mr. Sheer. A short video thereafter highlighted the different services Yad Sarah provides for all those in need, regardless of who they may be.
Participant Eytan Levy, husband of TempleEmanu-El's Cantor Sharon Brown-Levy, experienced severe pain in his knee on his flight to Israel and was in need of a wheelchair. "I'm very thankful to Yad Sarah for being the first group to get my husband a wheelchair, without hesitation," expressed Cantor Brown-Levy. In receiving his wheelchair, Mr. Levy benefited from Yad Sarah's service for tourists which lends equipment and oxygen cylinders, provides airport and intercity transportation, and offers free information regarding tourist site accessibility.
A highlight of the tour was Yad Sarah's EmergencyAlarmCenter. There operators respond 24/7 to calls from clients who can reach them in a time of need with the simple push of a call button worn on clients' wrists. Yad Sarah volunteer guide Eve Wimpfheimer, originally hailing from New Jersey, demonstrated the speed of the emergency system. Within seconds of a button being pushed, an operator was on the line inquiring if everything was ok.
In the ExhibitionCenter, the group observed many of the household items developed by Yad Sarah which help the disabled live as normal and independent lives as possible at home. Items included a walker with pockets for carrying basic things such as a water bottle or a magazine, and curved cutlery and a playing card holder for those with wrist impairments or weak hands. Cantor Brown-Levy was particularly impressed with the ingenuity of the items that help people help themselves. "I come from Florida which has a major retirement community, and I would love to see similar services implemented there where so many people are dependent on nursing homes." But for Samantha Spencer, age 9, the best part of the trip to Yad Sarah was the opportunity to personally help out. In the Hands On Workshop, Samantha, her friends and the rest of the group worked together assembling walkers to be used by Yad Sarah's clients. Samantha and company worked enthusiastically, happy to partake in the organization's vast effort lending a helping hand to those who reach out for it. Many look forward to further involvement with Yad Sarah in their home communities.
"They should have a place like this in New York!" said Talia Feldberg as she and nine other kids from the New Shul in New York City assembled walkers at Yad Sarah. Led by their rabbi, Rabbi Niles Goldstein, and the synagogue's executive director, Amy Eichenwald Golding, about 40 members of the New Shul arrived for a visit at Yad Sarah on the fourth morning of Chanuka. Members of the New Shul spent a few hours at Yad Sarah in Jerusalem, beginning with a short film which told the visitors a bit about Yad Sarah's activities. As adults continued on for a tour of Yad Sarah, the kids rushed to the "Hands On" room. After brief instructions, they entered and started to work on the walkers. Talia, 11, and Aviya Hernstadt, nine, built a walker together. With big smiles and a feeling of accomplishment, they set out for a test run with their walker. "It was fun, I like building," said Aviya. Cousins Gabriel Cook and Jake Tick, both 13, built a walker with the help of two other friends. "It felt good" said Gabriel. Jake added, "It's pretty cool." Cool is the fact that the walkers that the kids built will actually be used by Yad Sarah patients. Rabbi Niles Goldstein stated that he was overjoyed at the opportunity to bring his synagogue to Jerusalem, where he lived just a few years ago. He offered Yad Sarah a hearty, "Yasher Coach" as he boarded the bus, eager to continue the group's trip in the Holy Land. Following their rabbi, the New Shul kids hopped on the bus, having started their day in the perfect way, doing a big mitzvah, building walkers and helping Yad Sarah help those who need it.
Photo: Talia and Aviya assemble walker to be used by Yad Sarah patient
Rabbi Mordechai Miller and the members of the Brit Shalom synagogue in St. Louis brought enthusiasm and approval to the Hand-On Room at Yad Sarah House in Jerusalem, where they capped off a thorough tour of the facilities by assembling walkers to be used in Yad Sarah's Lending Department.
"Yad Sarah is so progressive," said Rabbi Miller, "and so compassionate.I'm amazed at how it started, and at how successful it has been."
"What stands out for me is the originality," commented congregant Franklin Haspiel."The Guidance and ExhibitionCenter is all about coming up with unusual inventions that really help people."
"For myself," added Michael Drake, another synagogue member, "the option of having a private organization that takes care of everything, the way Yad Sarah does, is just great."
It was not the first time that Bernie Rosenblatt, executive director of the Knoxville Jewish Alliance, had been to visit Yad Sarah – but he was just as impressed as if it was, if not more so. "The work being done is just extraordinary," he said enthusiastically. "The idea behind it all, the volunteers, it's incredible." The KJA mission to Israel, led by Chairs Nancy and Jeffrey Becker, spent a morning at Yad Sarah to learn of Israel's volunteering spirit, exemplified by Yad Sarah's 6,000 volunteers at 103 branches. The group also gave something back, assembling walkers to be loaned for free. "It's a phenomenal organization," was Marilyn Liberman's opinion, "supplying a real need. Being a teacher, I was fascinated by the Enrichment Center for Children with Special Needs.""The lending center, and the services for the elderly…" said Beth Leibowitz. "The ideas here are great, just great."
Captions from left:
-KJA Executive Director Bernie Rosenblatt and Mission Chairs Nancy & Jeffrey Becker
-Knoxville Jewish Alliance Israel Mission at Yad Sarah Headquarters
-Participant Beth Leibowitz assembles a walker at Yad Sarah
Participants on the Ki Va Moed initiative to transform Israel engagement in the Suffolk Jewish community visited Yad Sarah as part of their 10-day Israel seminar. Sponsored by SAJES (the Suffolk Association for Jewish Educational Services), UJA-Federation of New York and Partnership 2000, the initiative aims to developing a cadre of educators, clergy, and lay leaders from the U.S. and Israel sharing a common desire to explore the Israel-Diaspora relationship and heighten a sense of common belonging to the Jewish people. The Yad Sarah visit addressed social justice, one of the five pillars of the initiative. Yad Sarah's 6,000 volunteers from all walks of life, united to repair and improve society, embody Israel's spirit of social consciousness. Yad Sarah would be honored to further explore projects to strengthen Jewish identity and the Israel – Diaspora connection with the communities in the Ki Va Moed initiative.
Aproximately 20 staff members of UJA-Federation of New York spent an afternoon at Yad Sarah learning about the organization's spectrum of home care services, as part of the mission's aim to visit agencies in Israel supported by UJA-Federation of New York.For most of the participants the stop was a first one at Yad Sarah.Following a general overview and question and answer session with Yad Sarah's Daniel Sheer, the group toured select departments and then met with Yad Sarah volunteers Ateret Weinberg, 18, completing her national service at Yad Sarah, and Didi Henke, a 17-year volunteer, to gain the volunteer perspective.
Mission participants also had a chance to see Migdal New York, the Tower Building at Yad Sarah's Jerusalem Headquarters, constructed through the generous support of UJA- Federation of New York.
Fairlawn Jews Fly Across the World to Create Means for Chessed
Rabbi Benjamin Yudin and Rebbetzin Shevi Yudin led Fairlawn's Shomrei Torah Synagogue to Yad Sarah and assembled walkers for the disabled. Yad Sarah will loan the walkers for free, at over 100 branches all over Israel. "For people who've traveled six thousand miles, this is a privilege," said Rabbi Yudin. "We try to do Chessed on every mission. Today, we're here," said Rebbetzin Yudin. Yad Sarah offered Shomrei a unique opportunity, to create a means for Chessed, to build the tools with which Yad Sarah will help Israel's disabled.
The Fairlawn mission witnessed Yad Sarah's services, in addition to their walker-building. Sabina Kysotskaya, 17, (pictured at right) was most impressed with Yad Sarah's children's playcenter that lends appropriate toys and games to special needs children with instructions for home use. "It's a great place for kids to open up," Sabina said.
Yad Sarah thanks Shomrei Torah for their visit, and for creating walkers, so that Yad Sarah can continue serving Israel's disabled.
"I've Seen Things Here that I've Never Seen Before!"
Such were the words exclaimed by Ethel Hausman of Boston, on her visit to Yad Sarah. Hausman and the Ahavat Torah Synagogue, of Stoughton, Mass., came to Yad Sarah in Jerusalem, as part of the congregation's mission to Israel. The visitors toured the building and then assembled walkers for use by Yad Sarah's clients.
Upon observing Yad Sarah's services, Marilyn Rabinovitz raved, "I work with children and this is fabulous: The climbing equipment, that adaptive kitchen…" Ms. Rabinovitz was most impressed with the fact that these services are available to all, "even if you don't have financial means." Paula Gaffin agreed, saying, "You fill a huge gap in a little country."
Rabbi Jonathan Hausman led Ahavat Torah's mission to Israel and their trip to Yad Sarah. Rabbi Hausman and his congregation became part of Yad Sarah's network of volunteers. The walkers they assembled will be used by Yad Sarah's clients, in over 100 Yad Sarah branches all over Israel.
At Yad Sarah, the visitors from Ahavat Torah had a wonderful time. They helped out and were witness to the contributions that Yad Sarah makes to Israeli society. Ethel Hausman summed up the spirit that drives Yad Sarah perfectly: "When people need help, they need help."
Kicking off the civil New Year with a bang, The Community Synagogue of Port Washington, NY visited Yad Sarah House in Jerusalem, led by the Rabbi Irwin Zeplowitz, aiming to fulfill some social action on behalf of Israelis in need. Following a brief tour, the visitors assembled walkers that will be used by Yad Sarah's clients at its over 100 free equipment lending branches. Elisheva Flamm-Oren, representing the Israel office of the UJA- Federation of New York, also addressed the group. Yad Sarah enjoys a warm relationship with UJA-Federation of New York, having been privileged to receive funding for many of its services. Migdal New York, the Tower Building at Yad Sarah's Headquarters, is a tribute to that relationship. Many thanks to the Community Synagogue for lending a hand, and starting the civil year on the right foot.