Lev LaLev provides for the emotional, spiritual and physical needs of orphaned Israeli girls living at the Rubin Zeffren Children's Home in Netanya, Israel. We are so pleased to have you as a friend and supporter!
The girls at Lev Lalev are in desperate need of a second chance. Your dedication and commitment makes a difference in their lives. As I was preparing for Chanukah, I was thinking about our girls. A famous Chassidic Rabbi asked an interesting question: On Chanukah why are we instructed to use olive oil to light the Menorah? He answers that there are two special qualities of olive oil. Olives get their oil only after a lot of work. They have to be crushed with heavy stones. Also, oil never dissolves or blends with any other substance. Instead, it floats to the top.
These are important characteristics of the Jewish people. Our girls at Lev Lalev came to us from a dark place. Then they begin their healing process. Many emerge with tremendous strength, in part because they use their strength to change their direction. They go through an intensive, therapeutic intervention. We can characterize their progress as “the blessings of the brokenhearted.”
Surviving is not enough. The girls develop life skills that enable them to reach new heights. Together we help the weak and make them strong. The kindness that you show to them through your Israel charity may not change the world, but it makes a world of a difference for each of our girls. As you light the Chanukah Menorah, rejoice in the fact that our orphaned and disadvantaged girls are now seeing the light of happiness after a world of personal darkness. They persevere and succeed through the partnership that we have with our extended Lev Lalev family. How wonderful it is to see miracles before our very eyes, each and every day. We wish you and your family a happy Chanukah!
There is a well known question that’s asked about Chanukah. The Rabbis ask, “Why do we light the Menorah?” After all, the Macabbis did find one small jar of oil – then, it lasted for seven more days. Why shouldn’t we celebrate Chanukah for just seven days? There are numerous answers offered. Perhaps, the most famous is that there were two miracles. One of them, was the finding and lighting of the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdash. The other, was that the small Jewish army was able todefeat the mighty Greeks.
I would like to offer another answer and connect it to Lev Lalev. The miracle of Chanukah was that the Jews CARED to light the Menorah. After so many years under Greek rule, the Jews were devoted to lighting the Menorah. Acculturation, assimilation, and political weakness, didn’t effect the Jewish people. I suggest that this is the miracle of Chanukah.
Our girls at Lev Lalev come to us powerless and weak. They bring with them an aura of darkness. The miracle is that just like Chanukah, the girls spirits are raised. First, it is just a small flame. But, over the years it grows. The average girl spends seven or eight years with us. Each year she gets stronger. The light shines brighter. She reaches a higher level of confidence and self-esteem. The Lev Lalev girls branch out on their own. Some of our girls become dorm assistants after high school. Others, attend universities or programs of higher learning. It’s known that our girls are well trained and well adjusted.
The miracle is that they didn’t give up. The staff finds and provides them the spark, the small bottle of pure olive oil. From here, the girls grow and succeed. Israel charity makes the difference.
Lev Lalev Orphanage was founded by the Grand Rabbi of Klausenberg over fifty years ago. He was a Holocaust survivor whose wife and eleven children were murdered by the Germans. I was thinking about the character of the Rabbi yesterday, when I was studying on the telephone with one of my grandchildren. In Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our Fathers) it says, “Say little, and do much.” This is the way the Rabbi lived his life.In 1961 he moved to Israel from Union City, NJ, where he had come after the war.
He established the Lev Lalev Orphanage after another survivor left his five children on the doorstep of the Grand Rabbi’s house. He wrote a note which read, “I don’t have the strength to raise these children. Rabbi, will you please take care of them?” Later he set up an old age home. Then, he created Israel’s largest private hospital in Netanya. The Rabbi was not a political figure. He didn’t speak out at rallies and didn’t lead protests. He lived a simple life. The Grand Rabbi understood and practiced the idea that it is important to do a lot and say a little.
I joined the Lev Lalev team, shortly before Chanukah in 2012. Since then, I have been inspired by the teachings of the Rabbi. His son, who is now the Grand Rabbi, provides direction for the home. He serves as a role model for the precious young girls. At Lev Lalev these girls are blessed with the best care. The Rabbi provides strength and advice to our wonderful staff in Israel. Our team, works together to give our orphan girls what they need. We thank all of our Lev Lalev donors and friends for joining in our life saving efforts. Happy Chanukah to you and your families.
Today, we are focused on Giving Tuesday. Some years ago, I began the good habit of thanking our Lev Lalev donors each Monday morning. We called this Thank You Monday. Sometimes, we’ve been blessed with so many gifts that it spilled into Tuesday.
Tzedakah – Jewish charity – Israel charity – and support for our girls at the Lev Lalev Orphange comes any day and every day. We provide comfort to our orphaned and disadvantaged girls, 365 days a year. While today is Giving Tuesday, we encourage our friends to respond any day. It’s more than okay to respond on Wonderful Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, Fortunate Friday, Sensational Sunday, or any day. Providing our Lev Lalev girls with the resources necessary to give them a second chance is a great mitzvah.
While you may be making your donation today, the impact that your Israel charity has on our girls lasts a lifetime. By being kind to others, it not only changes the girls, but it changes the world, and of course, it changes you, too. Our Rabbis taught us that we raise ourselves by lifting up others. Whether you choose to make your donation on Giving Tuesday – or on Thankful Thursday, we thank you for your efforts to ensure that each of our Israeli girls has the promise of tomorrow.
We have just taken in another seven Israeli girls. We expect that as soon as we finish our dormitory expansion, we will take in an additional seven to ten girls. All of this is possible because of the many wonderful people who give tzedakah to Israel and help Israel’s poor. It’s a great challenge. It costs a lot of money, but the rewards are precious. Each girl that is helped, builds her own world. We are able to do this because of you.
What’s new and exciting at the Lev Lalev Orphanage in Netanya, Israel? Recently, we renovated and completed a new mini apartment. This important project has allowed us to increase the number of girls we can take in to the home. Thus far, 7 new girls have come to the home since the end of the Jewish holidays. Each came with her own background and as we say in Yiddish, “pekalach” (baggage in English).
To say that it has been a challenge, to begin the healing process with each of these girls, is an understatement. Anger, confusion, and eating disorders, are all being addressed through the love and care of our staff. Of course, we could not do this work without the significant support and Jewish Charity of our Lev Lalev family. Each of you recognize the need to help, to do the mitzvah with joy and readiness.
Israel charity begins with the belief that, we, can mend the broken lives’ of our Israeli girls. We thank you. As we approach the holiday of Chanukah, which believe it or not comes shortly after the American Thanksgiving this year. We are working tirelessly to provide the girls a positive light after they have gone through, and survived, a personal darkness. What greater mitzvah is there than helping the weak and make them strong? And, as we do this, we are raising ourselves – by lifting up others – by providing for the physical, spiritual, and emotional support of Israeli orphan girls. We are so happy to have partners with us who help raise up the weak and vulnerable, who give our girls the peace and security that they need. Thank you for helping to put smiles on the faces of our girls at Lev Lalev.
Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, and Leah, our esteemed matriarchs; women of the Torah, who serve as the life partners of our patriarchs. Together with their husbands, they built a holy nation which continues to thrive to this very day. Sari, Rivki, Ruchi, and Laylay, are all residents of the Lev Lalev Orphanage in Netanya, Israel. Like the matriarchs, our “Imahos,” our girls have struggled at a young age. Laylay came to us recently after her mom died of an aneurysm. She is angry, perplexed, and sad. She cries herself to sleep nightly. But through the love and support of our staff, and through the more settled and senior girls at the home, and YOU, our Lev Lalev extended family, we are confident that she will ultimately find her way. What a mitzvah: what a loving act of kindness to help the young orphaned and disadvantaged girls at Lev Lalev. Here, we provide the girls with all of their physical needs – we give them housing, nutritious food, and weekday and holiday clothing. But, we do so much more! They are our daughters. They are family. And we give them hope, inspiration, and a pathway to success. Through our unique and targeted mental health intervention program, each girl gets the boost and support she needs to move ahead. Like our own children, we help to build the self-esteem for each of our girls, the fundamental building block in taking away their pain, and preparing them for a positive, healthy, and productive future. How wonderful it is when one of our girls reaches a new standard and together we celebrate her success. Last year four of our girls were married, and one of them recently became a mother. She came to visit the home last week with her new daughter and said that she is so thankful for the help and support she got, and that she is confident that she will give her daughter the love she needs to succeed. The mitzvah of Jewish giving – supporting the people of Israel through contributions and prayers, is divine. We humbly appreciate our partnership – partnership for good, and for change.
Israel charity – Jewish charity – universal charitable support – are the key ingredients in ensuring that the orphaned and disadvantaged girls at Lev Lalev have the tools they need to succeed. Israel charity: Over four hundred Israelis contribute to our special Israel charities campaign. From Eilat in the South, to Maalot in the North, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we have friends and funders who help make sure that the needs of our unfortunate orphaned and disadvantaged girls are met. Jewish charity: from the morning minyan tzedakah box in Melbourne, Australia, to the Arizal Charitable Fund in Montreal, Canada, and from Jewish Federations in New York, San Diego, New Orleans, and elsewhere, funds are provided to give the girls the second chance they so desperately need. Universal charitable support: Donors from England, and other European nations, from Sri Lanka and even Saudi Arabia, stand together with Israel through their universal charitable support for our girls at the Lev Lalev Orphan Home in Netanya. Even visitors from as far as the Philippines, have met with the staff and our girls on visits to Israel. For many of these travelers, Lev Lalev is one of their passions, one of their charitable obligations to help provide for the widows and orphans of Israel. We welcome visitors with great admiration and deep gratitude. For, without their help and support, and their selflessness, it would be difficult to mend the broken hearts of our young and vulnerable girls. What our friends do matters a great deal. A small crack does not mean that an orphan’s life girl is broken, it means she was tested and did not fall apart. The astounding numbers of people who care and share create and deliver a lasting change in each of our girls. It is often said that charity begins at home. At our home charity begins to give our girls a great boost and much hope for the future.
Much has been written and spoken about the tragedy in Pittsburgh which killed eleven Jews who were atttending Shabbat prayer services in the Synagogue. This incident has had a sobering and horrifying effect on not only the people of the congregation and the neighborhood, but on good and caring people everywhere, throughout the United States and the world over. Several of our girls at the Lev Lalev Girls Orphanage Home can relate to this tragedy very personally (as unfortunately so many Israelis can). Almost a decade ago, one of our girls came to the home a total wreck. She had watched her mother die in the marketplace in Sderot. A rocket fired from Gaza killed her mom immediately and she herself was wounded, and almost died. For a long time, she had dreams about the attack and woke up screaming at night. Last year she graduated from high school and today she is an assistant dorm counselor at Lev Lalev. When she heard of this Pittsburgh tragedy, she sat down with the eleven year old girls in her charge, and shared her own personal story with them. They were surprised that she had gone through this terrible tragedy, as she seemed quite normal and adjusted to them. While time may not heal, it does temper one’s anguish. Her journey took many twists and turns – sometimes she was very sad, especially during the holidays. But, thankfully, she continued to work on herself with a wonderful and experienced social worker who gave her strength and hope.So many people are effected by a murderous and cowardly act, and we can not know the extent of the damage that it may have on individuals and communities. Even seventy five years after the Holocaust, survivors have peculiar worries. This is why we work so hard at the orphanage, hoping to eradicate, or at least control, the painful images that many of our girls have experienced. Our special words for the work we do is that, “We may not be able to change the world, but we do make a world of difference for each of our Israeli, orphan girls.” This is Israel charity at its highest level, replacing fear and trepidation with calmness and trust.
For the past few years I have been professionally involved with the Lev Lalev Orphanage in Netanya, Israel.The work is rewarding and I have very special affinity to our donors and friends. Whenever I travel to Israel to visit the home, I always make it a point to visit the Kotel and pray for the well-being of our donors. Generally, I send a note to our donors and ask them if I can pray for them. I leave for Israel tomorrow with a large number of prayer requests. These prayers are different than at other times. The focus of these prayers are on the welfare of the world, rather than on the individual’s needs. As my friend Phil from Texas wrote, “Pray for our country. We all need the peace of G-d to bring us back from the brink of CRAZY.” Many others asked us to pray for the welfare of our precious girls at Lev Lalev. One of our donors wrote, “I have not been blessed with children of my own and I feel a deep and familial connection to the wonderful orphans of Israel.” While the world spins around in many different directions, I know that Hashem helps us find our way and gives us comfort, direction, and blessings. I am traveling with a heavy heart – eleven Jews murdered in Pittsburgh; CL from Canada who has just learnt that she and her husband will not naturally conceive; DC from US who wants to find her soulmate and start her family. The chessed that our wonderful donors do in giving tzedakah, in helping orphans and widows, in praying for the welfare of others, is simply amazing. May Hashem hear their prayers and give them comfort and an abundance of brachos.
Each Friday night our girls at Lev Lalev receive the special blessing, you should merit a life which mirrors the lives of our matriachs, Sarah, Rivka, Rochel, and Leah. This week’s Parsha discusses the life of Sarah. She lived to the age of 127, and was the life partner of Abraham. Together they built a great nation. The language describing Sarah’s 127 years is peculiar. As it says, “The life of Sarah was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years.” Our commentators tell us that when she was one hundred she was like a twenty year old in sin, and when she was like twenty, she was as pure and as beautiful as a seven year old. We can also learn that her first seven years were difficult, and that in her formative years, until she was twenty, she developed a strong, distinguished, and righteous persona. And then, for the next one hundred and seven years, she was exceptional.These stages parallel and resemble much of the lives of our girls at Lev Lalev. They come from troubled beginnings, with great pain and suffering; are nurtured through a healing process through their adolescence; we continue to connect with them until they find their life partner, and then hopefully they have the strength and resolve to raise families of their own. The partnership between our Lev Lalev family gives us the resources to provide the girls the tools they need to succeed. The Israel charity that you give, helps the weak and makes them strong. Each charitable act that you do delivers a lasting change, and what you do for our girls at Lev Lalev matters for today and the future. Shabbat Shalom. Good Shabbos.