Oct 12, 2010 By David Lev-Arutz Sheva Staff Writer
The following article was featured on Arutz Sheva – Oct. 11, 2010
The ALEH organization is one of Israel’s better known chessed
groups, thanks to its fundraising campaigns – with the most well-known on El Al, where the organization distributes envelopes where travelers can insert their “small money,” change and small bills, and donate it to ALEH to make “big changes” in the lives of thousands of physically and mentally challenged kids.And, in a special once-a-year event, the Jerusalem ALEH organization will conduct a special tour in English and Hebrew at the renewed Israel Museum on Monday night, October 11. The event is being held in memory of Mrs. Betsy Shapiro, who worked with the organization for years and passed away this year, and there are still some places available.While there are many worthy organizations in Israel, ALEH is unique in providing care for some of the most difficult cases in the country, says organization spokesperson Sarah Herskowitz. “ALEH operates four centers where hundreds of children who are serious challenged, mentally and physically, receive full-time care, along with thousands of children who receive outpatient care – in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Gedera, and Merhavim-Ofakim,” she says.
The ALEH centers – especially the ones in Jerusalem and Merhavim-Ofakim – are also unique in that they have opened the country’s first high dependency care units for children. “Children who require long-term care are able to have all their needs met in these centers,” says Herskowitz. “They go to school there, enjoy social and leisure activities, and of course receive medical care.”
About 650 kids live in ALEH’s four centers, and each center also runs a day care center for children who are able to live at home, but need constant care. Some 160 children are enrolled in these programs. In addition, Herskowitz says, thousands of children receive professional help at ALEH centers on an outpatient basis – coming in for specific help like speech therapy, physical therapy, and other programs.
IDF Major General Doron Almog was a major force behind the establishment of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, the ALEH rehabilitative village in Merhavim-Ofakim. Almog was the first para-reconnaissance commander to land at Entebbe in the 1976 rescue operation, and most recently served as General of the Southern Command. Almog began working with ALEH in 1997, in his search for appropriate care for his severely mentally challenged son Eran. Although Eran passed away in 2007, at age 23, the Merhavim-Ofakim village remains his legacy, says General Almog, who continues to raise funds for its development and operation.Besides selling tickets to the Israel Museum event, ALEH has produced a fundraising journal. Funds raised will be used to support current ALEH programs, the construction of another residential center in the Negev, and the establishment of a new care center: a rehabilitative school in Bnei Brak for special needs children.
“There are still many youngsters who need long-term care,” says Herskowitz. “These kids are in the hospital, and they’re not going home anytime soon. Opening a new school will not only give community children the best special education opportunities possible, it will also ease the crowding in our centers and enable us to accept more kids. Our centers help make their lives a little easier.”
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