Five Towns Jewish Times / Rochelle Maruch Miller
Ask Ron Rabinovich to describe Aleh Negev–Nahalat Eran and he will tell you it is a place like no other. Ron and his wife, Einat, beloved members of our Five Towns community, are the dynamic duo behind the Aleh Negev Caregivers Campaign.
“I first became involved with this magical place in the winter of 2009, during the Oferet Yetzuka war in Gaza,” Ron explained. “My second round was during the last war (Tzuk Eitan), during the summer of 2014. On both occasions, I witnessed firsthand the bravery, commitment, and dedication of their most unselfish staff, which kept on taking care of kids facing heartbreaking challenges. On both occasions, I felt that something should be done to reward and to empower the caregivers—the true heroes of this place—who, despite a barrage of rockets, came to work. If they had any fear, they hid it very well! They kept on providing all the residents of Aleh Negev–Nahalat Eran what they can’t do without—the very best of care, compassion, and love. This time around, Einat and I decided to launch a campaign a show the caregivers that we care, too!”
He adds, “This is an ongoing campaign. Through our Root Funding webpage, donors can make contributions online. We also held an open house last November, and our first annual gala Five Towns Dinner [in May] was an unforgettable event. We’ve raised $33,000 since the campaign’s launch. Our goal is to invite four caregivers to New York for ten days each year, for an all-expenses-paid stay with families in our community. We want to provide them with a much-deserved relaxing break, so that they can reenergize and reinvigorate while we show how much we appreciate their hard work and take care of them.”
It takes a village of these extraordinary angels to raise the children of Aleh. Innovative and multifaceted, Aleh Negev–Nahalat Eran is a rehabilitative village located in southern Israel. Acclaimed the world over, the facility provides severely disabled young adults the opportunity to live a rich and productive life within a safe and secure environment. Truly a village in every sense of the word, Aleh Negev is home to over 100 young people, who are encouraged to develop a greater degree of independence in becoming productive members of Israeli society. It provides a continuum of residential care for children with disabilities as they grow from adolescents into adults and empowers them to interact with the outside world, develop a greater degree of independence, and live quality lives while realizing their full potential.
Quality-of-life issues have been taken into consideration throughout the village, which features large parks and lounge areas for the residents to enjoy. Additionally, the village provides outpatient services to the 12,000 children and young adults living in the surrounding areas who previously had to wait several months for therapy sessions in the existing local medical centers or travel for up to four hours to medical centers in the Tel-Aviv area. Aleh Negev also provides jobs for hundreds of thousands of employees in administrative, caretaker, healthcare, and other fields.
Due to its proximity to Gaza, the village is in a precarious situation. Last July, a rocket landed in one of the residences. It damaged the facility, but fortunately no one was injured. At the time it hit, it was the second rocket that had fallen since the start of Operation Protective Edge.
Spending time in shelters is more of a struggle for people with special needs. Any changes in their daily routine cause them stress and can have a major effect on their moods.
Being cooped up in a shelter also affects their mental and physical health in various ways. Many of them, for example, have naturally low immune systems and are easily susceptible to infection by germs. Being confined in a room with little ventilation can have an adverse effect on them and can cause many illnesses.
For the staff members and caregivers, last summer was a particularly challenging time. Some of the Bedouin staff members have family living in Gaza and some of the Israelis have sons and daughters fighting in the IDF. But the staff and caregivers all came to work every day, putting their own lives in danger to make sure that the residents were not traumatized.
In times of war and peace, it is the dedication, commitment, and courage of the caregivers, health workers, teachers, volunteers, and management that keep the residents entertained, calm, relaxed, and healthy—both physically and mentally. Selfless and loving, these extraordinary individuals are truly the essence of AMIT Negev–Nahalat Eran—its protective angels.
Ron says, “Please help us show the residents and staff of Aleh Negev–Nahalat Eran that we care, too. It is so important for people to understand how hard the caregivers work, and how much more so under rocket attacks, as they put their lives in danger to take care of the young residents whose very lives depend on them.”
To make a donation, visit www.rootfunding.com/campaign/caregivers-of-aleh-negev-2014.