UK Rabbinical Delegation Visits ALEH Negev
Dec 30, 2005
Twenty-two leading rabbis and their wives from the UK, including Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, braved the hot desert winds and the soaring temperatures to visit ALEH Negev, the innovative rehabilitative village recently built by ALEH just outside of Ofakim.
The visit was organized by the Jewish National Fund of the UK, which has played a significant role in providing the funding necessary to build the village. Many of the rabbis on the visit promoted the ALEH Negev project in their communities when the rehabilitative village was just a dream on paper.
“It is amazing to come out here,” said Rabbi Yehuda Pink of Solihull, “and to actually see the buildings, the disabled young adults, the volunteers and the professional staff…all we ever saw was a map and architectural drawings…it is a very emotional experience for all of us.”
Brandishing sunglasses and leaving hats and jackets behind, the rabbis participated in a tour of the facility, beginning with an orientation and question-and-answer session. The rabbis learned that the facility is currently home to 30 severely disabled young adults, with five new residents arriving weekly until the maximum capacity of 220 residents is reached. In addition, outpatient services will provide local care and a wide range of therapies to 8,000 disabled people throughout the south of Israel. Construction of the village is continuing and will be completed in 2008, conditional on the required funds being raised on schedule. Speakers included Yehuda Marmorstein, Director General of ALEH; Israela Nevo, Director of the ALEH Negev facility; and Moshe Schapiro, Director of Development in the UK and Canada.
The orientation session, held in the living room of one of the facility’s residential units, was interrupted several times when wheelchair-bound young adults had to pass through to the adjacent occupational therapy room. Judging by their reaction, these “interruptions” had more of an impact on the group than the speeches. The delegation saw severely disabled people recycling paper, creating beautiful pieces of jewelry, ceramics and silk screening art.
“We are extremely impressed with what we have seen here today,” said Chief Rabbi Sacks.
Yehuda Marmorstein, Director General of Aleh, with the Chief Rabbi of Britain, Jonathan Sacks, and Rabbi Alan Plancey.
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