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Etz Chayim – the ‘Tree of Life’ – is the Hebrew name of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue.
Good morning, Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach and Shana Tova
This year Council has chosen three incredibly worthy charities for us to support. However before I tell you about these, I would like to read you part of an email received from Carol Brauner at the Leo Baeck School in Haifa - you will recall that we supported their Jewish-Arab Children summer Camp 2010 in last year’s Appeal:
“Some weeks ago, Samia Diab, our head of community outreach at The Leo Baeck Community Centre, called me in a panic. She told me that there are 30 Arab children between the ages of 5 and 9 who attend our after school centre for severely at risk children, some of them physically or emotionally abused and all of them problematic and poor, who have nowhere to go in August, the only month the centre closes down. Samia told me she needed a further 50-60,000 Israeli shekels for the Summer Camp budget to cover these children who are from the harshest and most tragic of backgrounds with very little joy in their lives.
I told her not to worry, it would be alright; I told her to go ahead and enrol these children. She was doubtful; I gave her my word; I told her that as far as I was concerned, the money was as good as “in the bank”.
Today that money is in the bank as I knew it would be. And as for all of you and your wonderful community, you have really performed a Mitzvah this summer, such a difficult time for Arab-Jewish relations in Israel. Thanks to you we can keep doing what we do best even when the going gets tough, as it most certainly is right now. With love and thanks from us all, especially the Arab and Jewish children of Haifa, who in spite of it all, will come together in peace for fun this summer.” [to read the full report on the Summer camp click here]
I felt really humbled by these words and it gave me inspiration for making my appeal to you today. As always, we are supporting a Jewish and a non-Jewish charity in the UK and one charity from Israel.
Our Jewish charity this year is Chai Cancer Care.
Chai was formed 20 years ago and the centre in Hendon has now been open for 7 years. It offers an incredible range of services:-
Chai offers counselling to children and their parents and their extended family either on their own or together, in whatever way feels appropriate and comfortable for that particular family.
2. Complementary therapies
3. Group activities and Support Groups
4. Advisory Services including financial and legal guidance, nutritional and dietary
Chai has a helpline open 6 days a week; 30% of its services take place in a person’s own home. All Chai’s services are free; they receive no statutory funding and are entirely reliant on donations.
Their motto is “Nobody has to face cancer alone. Together we can cope.”
Our Israel charity this year is Save a Child’s Heart.
Save a Child’s Heart ultimate goal is to create centres of competence in developing countries where children can be treated independently in their own communities; they train doctors and nurses from developing countries as well as sending medical teams to these countries to treat children in the community.
Over 200 children each year are now brought to Israel by Save a Child’s Heart for treatment at the Wolfson Hospital; 49% of these children come from the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Iraq, 40% come from the under-developed countries of Africa. These children would have died if it were not for Save A Child’s Heart.
The present appeal by Save a Child’s Heart is to provide beds and equipment for a newly built childrens’ special intensive care unit. Because of pressure on paediatric intensive care beds children have also had to be treated in the adult intensive care unit which is far from ideal. The building costs for the new 10 bed paediatric intensive care unit have already been provided but Save a Child’s Heart has to provide the beds and equipment – each bed costs £5,000, mobile monitors cost £4,000 and electro cardiograph machines cost £3,500; an acknowledging plaque will be fixed to each item donated. Our appeal this year is to help Save a Child’s Heart buy specialist beds and equipment for this new paediatric intensive care unit.
Save a Child’s Heart is motivated by the age-old Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. By repairing the hearts of children, regardless of their origin, Save a Child’s Heart is contributing to a better and more peaceful future for all of our children.
Our third and final charity this year is our UK non-Jewish charity the Holocaust Centre (Beth Shalom in Nottingham)
There is in fact only one museum in the United Kingdom solely devoted to the Holocaust and that is situated in the North Nottinghamshire countryside and which was established and is run by the Smith family, who are in fact, Methodists.
In July 1991 Stephen and James Smith visited Israel together; they were in their mid 20’s, Stephen a graduate theologian and James a newly qualified doctor. They visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. They were so moved by what they saw and learnt that they decided to devote their future to setting up a Holocaust Museum in the UK so that English and especially non-Jewish children could learn about the Holocaust to help to ensure that nothing like it could ever happen again. Incredibly, 5 years later in September 1995 Beth Shalom, the House of Peace, opened as the first Holocaust Museum in the United Kingdom.
Beth Shalom is in three parts. The first part is the Holocaust Museum and Exhibition. This provides a human and personal perspective on the Holocaust, focusing on Jewish life in Europe before the War, the rise of National Socialism, ghettos, concentration and death camps, survival and post-war justice. It reminds visitors that knowing what happened during the Holocaust is the first step towards preventing it ever happening again.
The second part is The Journey Exhibition. The Journey follows the journey of a fictional Jewish Child, Leo Stein. He was a German Jewish boy growing up in Berlin in the 1930’s. Leo’s story is told as one passes through each of 7 rooms, comprising his home, his school and street, his parents’ shop, his hiding place under the stairs; then the train carriage in which he makes his journey to safety with the Kindertransport to England and finally the place where he finds refuge. In each room visitors can watch and listen to the filed testimony of child survivors and refugees.
The third part of Beth Shalom is the Memorial Gardens. These are beautifully landscaped and include a rose garden and sculptures made by survivors or their children. The gardens provide space for peaceful reflection, as well as an important place for individuals to reflect on the loss of so many, including friends and families. It is a place of beauty, of memory and of hope.
On many days, Beth Shalom hosts survivors of the Holocaust and refugees from former Nazi territories who share their experiences in discussion with visitors. Their testimonies offer insights that cannot be gained from books or films as we at NPLS know from our own Holocaust Memorial Week Events each year.
Beth Shalom welcomes around 22,000 students every year from primary and secondary schools, special needs schools, 6th form colleges and universities, the overwhelming majority of these children are not Jewish For many of these students and children it will be the first time they have been told about the Holocaust.
During the last year they have had to downsize their staff from 22 to 11 for financial reasons. They are very dependent on grants and donations which comprise 75% of their income; they need our help.
Each of these 3 charities has encountered a fall in their income due to reduced donations in the current difficult financial times. We can make a difference. Each of you can make a difference. Please think about that when you receive my letter about this Appeal next week.
I wish you all Shana Tova.
© Copyright 2010 NPLS