Home Happenings – In Person

Reporting LIVE from Netanya by “Inside Our Home” editor Chava Yelloz

Me-Art-Home.JPGA few weeks ago, I once again ran towards platform #18 at Jerusalem's Central Bus Station and hopped onto Egged bus #947 – Netanya bound. I always carry my yellow legal pad, my favorite fluid gel pens and the pocket sized digital camera my eldest son gave me for my birthday a few years ago. This time I did not bring reading material for the hour-and-a-half ride. I just wanted to soak in my beloved Israel's winter scenery and was even ready for an impromptu schmooze with any stranger who would sit beside me. But, the seat beside me remained empty so I utilized this quiet time to project and to imagine what images and experiences I would encounter when I reached my destination – the Lev LaLev Home.

Bracha-Girls-Pepper.JPGFinally, my long ride was over. I took another local bus towards the Mediterranean seashore and in minutes I was able to stretch my legs for the short walk to the familiar location where I knew I'd be greeted warmly. Once inside the glass doors, I found my way to programs director Bracha Runes' office. As always, she was in a meeting. I knew that our Director of Development, Shimon Pepper was visiting from Monsey, and soon we'd work as a team of three. In the meantime, Bracha's secretary Sari greeted me with a warm smile, and offered me a hot drink while I waited.

Girls-Me-15Shvat.JPGOlder girls were entering the building, coming home from school and heading for the dining room for their main meal of the day. A few of them who recognized me from the past invited me to share their midday meal. I applaud and admire their hospitality which is always so genuine. I decide to wait to have my lunch a bit later but I take a walk through the hallways and breathe in the excitement as Jewish Arbor Day and all the activities related to the festival is abound.

Girl-DatePlatter.JPGI peek into an arts and crafts room and see several girls preparing and wrapping baskets of dried fruit, nuts, chocolate wafers, and other goodies for Tu B'Shvat. Without hesitation, I was given an adorable basket to enjoy. I captured some candid shots of the girls as they continued their task with enthusiasm and glee.

Pepper-Bracha-Dining.JPGBack to the administrative office area, I now get to see Bracha and Shimon Pepper. Our meeting is like a mini-family reunion! Bracha takes me and Mr. Pepper on a tour of the Home. We view new rooms, just built – one designated for an Activity Center, another for an Exercise Room, a long room with many electrical outlets set aside for a Computer Center to house 8 units. I note yet another room that is to become a GYMboree/Aerobics Center that has a wall of mirrors. A quiet location is chosen for a tutorial/study center. These rooms are ready to use, but lack the equipment necessary for their purpose.

Continuing our Home tour, Bracha shares with us her Wish List – as she passes an aroma in the lobby where there's a pipe dangling from the wall. “This is where we hope to have a salt water aquarium one day.” She continues by saying, “Of course, the empty walls could use some cheerful art, and the library is in great need of new books and furniture.”

Our walk is over as Bracha must leave us for a while to attend the never-ending needs of the girls. She suggests we join the house sisters for lunch in the dining room. The wafting aroma is so appetizing, we cannot say no. Sitting down at an empty table, a few of the adolescent girls ask if they can get us a plate of food. They bring some salad and cutlery to the table, while I act “at Home” and fill my own plate. I see the joy on the girls' faces as they model what they learn from our staff and administration – doing mitzvahs - good deeds, without hesitation, with a full heart!

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