Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ten Years!!! in Pina Chama

Yesterday the rain created brown puddles all over the parking lot of the Pina Chama (Soldier's Hospitality Hut). When my partner Jill Kuchar and I followed the brown muddy footsteps into the cozy "clubhouse" at the Gush Etzion Junction, we were greeted by several dripping soldiers and some indoor puddles too.
They popped in to the Pina Chama for a break from the rain, a hot drink, a yummy piece of cake and a warm smile. As the morning continued, we were packed with soldiers. Their timing was great, because we had just received delicious cakes from the Dekel Maarav Synagogue Dedication Party (thank you, Dekel Maarav) and cards made by the sixth grade students of the Metro-West group of educators that visited Gush Etzion with the Gush Etzion Foundation.
The soldiers ate the chocolate black-out cake, all kinds of gooey delicacies, drank their "Nes" coffee with two sugars, and read their cards. "Dear IDF Soldiers, you rock!!" "Dear IDF Soldiers, You are the bomb!! (That's good.)" "Dear Soldiers, Thank you for doing your job and protecting Israel."
I told a few extremely wet soldiers to take off their jackets. They smiled, but declined. "They're so wet, we'd never be able to put them on again."
So, they drank and dripped. (No prob. We've got a mop.)

Ten Year Guest

Then a beautiful traffic cop walked in - the raindrops glistening on her yellow raincoat. Tea, a small butter cookie and a smile. "I hung up that certificate ten years ago," she said, pointing to one of the dozens of certificates on our walls. (We've got quite a collection of stickers, certificates, flags, hats and tags, given to us as a "thanks" from our appreciative soldiers.) 

She said, "We were in our office, and told that we were going to visit a new place dedicated for the hospitality of soldiers at Gush Etzion Junction. Before I got my coat, I made a certificate and brought it along to thank you for your kindness to our soldiers. And it's there right on the wall."
I could not believe it, and followed her to the certificate. Wow. 
Ten years ago, she said, "I was a single girl just beginning in the traffic police. Today I'm a mother of three, living in the center of the country. But whenever I am in the area, I still love coming here to the Pina Chama."
I gave her a giant hug, and asked if I could take her picture. She agreed.
After she left, Jill said to me, "Ten years, can you imagine that!!" We could have served her ten years ago.
Then I thought of all the changes that have happened to Jill and me over the past ten years - the changes in our work, our community, our families - our own children going through the army, getting married, giving us grandchildren, B"H.
One thing has not changed, we still love volunteering at Pina Chama. We personally have handed out approximately 9600 cups of coffee and about 28,000 pieces of homemade cake. We've told soldiers the story of Gush Etzion more than 100 times, and we've taken dozens of photos with our soldiers. It's been unforgettable!! B"H.
Jill, it's been an honor to serve with you. Giant hug.

Monday, January 30, 2012

On Location - What's Up, Efrat? 7

This edition of What's Up, Efrat? 7 went on location for some of the great activities happening in the area. You can watch the clip: http://www.voices-magazine.com/videoClip/233, or find out more below.

* Efrat recently honored the approximately 500 volunteers in the community. What an evening!!
* Elana Gertel, pictured above left, celebrated her 12th birthday with a walk-athon to benefit the Alyn Hospital.
* Gush Etzion Foundation and its partner Metro West-Central New Jersey brought educators to Israel to learn more about the heroic Lamed Hei soldiers and build living bridges of Friendship. They traveled through the Gush and even visited Pina Chama. They brought cards for the soldiers and loads of American candy.
* Sheva Brachot were hosted in Netzer in honor of the wedding of Ortal Mesika (daughter of the Mayor of the Shomron) and Yechezkel Katsover (son of the former Mayor of Kiryat Arba), who were married last week in Me’arat HaMachpelah. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Crisis Center for Religious Women

On February 1st, the Crisis Center for Religious Women (crisiscenter.org.il) is holding a fundraising in Gush Etzion. It's showing the movie "Eshet Cohen", followed by a discussion with Rav Yuval Sharlo, the film's creator Nava Heifetz, and Debbie Gross director of the Crisis Center for Religious Women.
Crisis Center for Religious Women is a grass roots non-profit organization, started 19 years ago because of a few cases of child sexual abuse in a religious community in Jerusalem. There was no existing service to help victims in a religious community.
Since January 1993, 70,000 different cases have come in to the center.
Most cases come from the religious community, but not all.
Women can get help of every kind at the Crisis Center for Religious Women. She can also stay anonymous if she wishes. She can call and get a listening ear. She can meet with volunteers. If needed, the Center volunteers will escort her to the hospital, to the police, to court. Volunteers will stay with her through anything they need.
Their office is located in Talpiot. Over the years, they have trained 700 women, and today there are 160 active volunteers (many from Gush Etzion). There are one or two training programs a year.
There are also workshops to prevent violence, workshops for preschoolers, school-aged children and teens. Crisis Center Director Debbie Gross said, "We teach little children that most people are nice, but not everyone is. That's why we have a mitzvah (commandment) to protect ourselves."
Schools can call the Crisis Center for help with an incident, G-d forbid, or for a workshop on abuse or family violence. They even teach teens how to choose a non-abusive mate, or tell if the boy a teen is dating might have a violent potential.
The Crisis Center gives courses for rabbis, so that just as a rav is prepared to give a psak (determination) after understanding the issues in depth. Top rabbis come to the Center to learn about these issues.
In Gush Etzion there will be a large course for Mikvah ladies and kallah teachers who can learn more about sexual abuse and prevention.
If someone has a serious suspicion that her friend is being abused, she can call the Hotline - (02) 6730002.
The Hotline worker will help her decide the best thing to do. The victim can also call with complete anonymity.
The Hotline receives 20% of its funding from the Ministry of Welfare. The rest, 80%, comes from the public. This money allows them to really help the victim with all the services she needs.
The Center's motto is "No one should have to cry alone."
To find out more about the Center, watch this video with Debbie Gross, Director of the Crisis Center:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shalva Book Swap for the Mentally and Physically Challenged

There are so many worthwhile organizations that need our help in order to thrive and help as many people as they can. One of the biggest challenges to all organization heads is finding a way to support the cause.
Orit Samuels, Event and Social Media Manager of SHALVA, the Association for Mentally and Physically Challenged Children in Israel, came up with a terrific idea for Sunday, February 5th, in Alon Shvut - a BOOK SWAP.  Read the info below, and if you live nearby, please participate.

Friday, January 13, 2012

SNOW in Israel

Well, the dreams of every child here has just come true.
It's Friday afternoon, January 13, 2012.
First it rained. Then it hailed. And now it's snowing!!
It won't stick though, because the ground is too wet. But that won't dampen the enthusiasm of every kid and every "big kid" around. We've waited a long time for some snow, and we take what we can get. I know that everywhere in the world when there's stormy weather, folks shudder. We dance. B"H, thank you, G-d, for the rain, the snow and every drop of water you give us.
We pray that everyone drives slowly and carefully. And let's enjoy the snow.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's Up, Efrat? # 6

Welcome to the newest edition of WHAT'S UP, EFRAT?
On Motzei Shabbat, January 14th, 19th of Tevet
BOOTCAMP!! Terrific work out instructors!!! The evening is a project of Keren Yeshua and Aseh Chayil School for the school’s needy population.
Questions? Contact the dynamic duo: Heather Cohnen or Dara Saker.   Cohnenh@aol.com or darasaker@michalwigs.com
On Monday evening, January 16th, 21st of Tevet, everyone is invited to the Efrat Book Club in the Library to discuss, "House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton.
On Tuesday morning, January 17th,  22nd of Tevet, and for seven more weeks, the Women's Bet Midrash will present two mini-courses in Bet Knesset Tiferet Avot:
 **  "Women as Servants of God: Women's Obligation in Daily Mitzvot", with Noa Jeselsohn, 8:30-9:40am.
** and "Parshat Shavua for your Shabbat Table", with Bracha Krohn, 9:50-11am. Call for details. 050-993-8125
 Also on Tuesday at 4 PM, in the Beit Bnei Rachel in the Kever Rachel Complex, Rabbi Efraim Sprecher will lead a very topical discussion, "Is the Current Exodus Failing Because of Attitudes against Women?" The Rachel's Children Reclamation Foundation will also host a supperette consisting of a healthy homemade buffet.
RCRF Winter Lectures continue, including Atara Gur every Wednesday at 11 AM at the Kever Rachel Complex.
 On Sunday, January 22nd , 27th of Tevet, at 8 PM, in advance of school registration, Aseh Chayil invites parents to hear about its unique educational outlook and programming.
Also on all-day Sunday and Monday (until 10 PM), our friends at the Benjamin Library in Beit Shemesh's Meyeroff Matnas in Givat Sharett are holding a gargantuan, humongous, immense, positively elephantine Book Sale!!! All books, hardcover or paperback, are only NIS 5 each!
An unprecedented number of books in English and Hebrew! New books will be put out constantly throughout the day: Adult fiction and non-fiction, thrillers, romance, detective, science fiction, classics, and everything else for adults and teens. For more information or directions, call 991-8499On Tuesday January 24th, 29th of Tevet, at 4 PM, Rabbi Dr. Yosef Klausner will be speaking in the Kever Rachel Complex on "The Neviot / Women Prophets: Halacha and Hagadda. A light supperette will follow.
It's time to register your children for next year's preschool and elementary school. Please do so from January 25th through February 17th. Please go to the Moetza to register for preschool or Mechina. And register your children for elementary school at each individual school.
On January 25th, Rosh Chodesh Shevat, Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin Presents Grow and Let Grow - A full day of inspiration for Tu Beshvat, beginning with a musical Hallel, and including shiurim, creative workshops and life advice from 9:45 AM to 10 PM. Wow.

Life is like a tree. :-)
Information/registration:  Elana Benarroch 02-993-4945, info@berotbatayin.org, www.berotbatayin.org

On Motzei Shabbat, January 28th, the 4th of Shevat, Kehillat Zemer HaZayit presents a Shiur: Women as Instructors of Halacha by Dr. Tova Ganzel, Bar Ilan Tanach and Halacha Lecturer.Everyone is invited to visit Shiloh Gal, the former long-time Mayor of Gush Etzion, in his orchid greenhouse in Elazar. You can view these beautiful flowers and purchase orchids for your own home directly from Shiloh. For more information, call 02-9932666
As in previous years, Tuv Haaretz will be selling fruit packages for Tu Beshvat. Most dried fruit sold in Israel today is imported, from Turkey and other countries. Tuv Haaretz, a company started by evacuees from Gush Katif, has been selling dried fruit grown only in Israel, for the last three years.
These packages are perfect for your Tu Beshvat needs with 6 different types of fruit, YUM. To order a package, 993-2212.
Here's another delicious idea, this one from the Zayit Raanan synagogue – a cookbook fundraiser. Send your best recipes to zayitraanancookbook@gmail.com. These recipes will be collected, reviewed, tasted and then published in a fundraising cookbook.
That's about it for this month.
Wait…Have you purchased your tickets yet for this year's DAMES of the DANCE 5 – MIRACLES. It's going to be an incredibly GREAT SHOW, IY"H, dazzling, exciting, fun, inspirational with more than 100 women and teens on stage dancing the personal, natural and national miracles we have all experienced. There's jazz, hip hop, tap, 60s, stomp, Israel Dance, Mizrachi, modern and more.

And it's all to feed the needy. For more information or to buy tickets, visit: http://damesofthedance.voices-magazine.com
Watch this edition of WHAT'S UP, EFRAT?