Mar 5, 2011

Every Shabbat is special at ALEH, and ‘regular people’, from the outside community, are always invited to take part in meals, prayers and visits. But when 30 energetic young volunteers from the Kav L’Chaim organization descended upon ALEH for the entire weekend, it proved to be an unforgettable experience!

Kav L’Chaim serves children with cancer, cerebral palsy and other chronic diseases. Throughout the year, they organize scores of weekends in various regions of the country, where different congregations invite the children to stay with them for the whole Shabbath. Accompanied by a volunteer, each child is hosted by a family, and together the children enjoy common activities in a central place.

A number of ALEH residents have enjoyed the experience of these weekend excursions immensely. Unfortunately, most of ALEH’s residents cannot benefit from these weekends due to their severe disabilities. Realizing this, Amos Buchnik, a veteran volunteer of both Kav L’Chaim and ALEH, proposed that “if the children could not come to Kav L’Chaim, Kav L’Chaim would come to the children!”

Bunking on the floors of the classrooms, the volunteers stayed with the ALEH residents all Shabbat, creating a beautiful, festive atmosphere through dance, song, delicious meals and a tremendous amount of warmth. The melodious prayer services, intensity and joyousness from the volunteers elicited wonderful feedback from the residents and staff alike.

The Kav L’Chaim volunteers were joined by Sherut Leumi (National Service) girls who volunteer at ALEH, and who asked to be included in the plans. Their knowledge and familiarity with the residents helped put everyone at ease, and fostered a real sense of connectivity within the group.

The families of ALEH children also benefitted from the special atmosphere.  Many parents and siblings, after visiting their child at ALEH on Friday and seeing the preparations for the weekend, were inspired to walk back late on Shabbat afternoon to join in the spirit of family and community. More than one person expressed the hope that the experience would be repeated again – very soon.

We are grateful to Kav L’Chaim for their generosity and for ‘giving’ up their own personal Shabbat to spend it with ALEH.

Anyone interested in sponsoring a weekend Shabbat at ALEH, contact Rachely

(All pictures were taken after Shabbat.)

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