Achuzat Sarah

Achuzat Sara 2012Achuzat Sarah is a children's home in Bnei Brak for children with exceptionally challenging family situations. For a number of years, students from Yeshivat Har Etzion have traveled in groups to spend Shabbat in the home and this important program is now under the umbrella of CTL.

Over the course of Shabbat, our volunteers lead Tefillot, perform plays, give Divrei Torah, teach songs, lead activities and create a special Shabbat atmosphere.

Our volunteers' contribution is particularly appreciated, seeing as the dedicated and inspiring staff of Achuzat Sarah is largely female, creating a lack of older male role-models for the disadvantaged children. The presence of responsible, learned and fun male figures gives a tremendous boost to the home.

Here's a report from Shana Aleph talmid Sam Grill, who participated in the most recent Shabbaton:

It is no secret that Chessed is an essential part of the 'Gush' experience, and having volunteer opportunities virtually all the time makes it quite natural for us.

This past weekend was the first 'off Shabbat', meaning that it was the one Shabbat in three weeks that we have the chance to either go to home if Israeli, or stay by a friend or relative if not yet an Israeli. However as important as this mini-break is, I was not surprised to see a sign-up sheet for Talmidim interested in spending this free Shabbat volunteering at a home for troubled youth. So with much excitement, the 16 of us who signed up first, boarded the minibus headed for the Achuzat Sarah home located in Bnei Brak.

Upon arrival it was not entirely obvious to us that this facility housed children in difficult situations. In fact it looked like any other boarding school, the boys and girls seemed normal, even excited and happy. However it did not take us long to realize what the source of their excitement was. As we settled in to the dormitories it became apparent that the boys were becoming attached to us very quickly. They constantly offered us to play games and just speaking with them seemed to really put a smile on their faces. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing, laughing and preparing for Shabbat.

After a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat consisting of passionate singing and lively dancing we joined the children and staff of Achuzat Sarah for a very tasty Friday night meal. Right before the chicken came out a group of us stepped outside and under the leadership of our Madrich, Nechemya Rosenfeld, we prepared a humorous skit about the Parsha to present to everyone. It was received very well and drew lots of laughs, seemingly because half the cast spoke broken Hebrew with funny foreign accents. We then continued to chat and sing until the end of dinner and by the time their curfew arrived our group was legitimately tired from all the lively games and activities we had played. Nevertheless, after the children went to sleep, we took a walking tour around Bnei Brak and had an inspiring Friday night Tish amongst ourselves.

The next day consisted of more playing, singing and laughter. It continued throughTefilla, lunch and then ultimately culminated in a powerful Havdala led by our own Nechemya. After the final note of Havdala was sung, the whole Shul burst into celebration for the coming week. Almost every one of us had a little friend on our shoulders singing and dancing to the tune of Eliyau Hanavi,

This celebration seemed to have no end but when it finally did, the head of Achuzat Sarah asked that the children go out so he could speak to us alone. It was not until this point that we fully realized what our job here was. The head of this vital institution gave us a background and history of Achuzat Sarah, who the children are and where they come from. It was sad to find out that these kids really come from such broken households and that the government had sent them to live in Achuzat Sarah by force. The head explained to us that these kids never want to be here by choice and they are present so often that life becomes dull and unexciting for them. This of course leads to depression, which no child should ever have to experience, especially with what these kids have already been through. He went on to explain why the kids were so attached to us and how when something new or fun pops into the walls of Achuzat Sarah it could not be compared to any new toy. He concluded by telling us the amazing success stories of Achuzat Sarah and inviting us back to do this great Mitzva again.

So it was with mixed emotions that we left Achuzat Sarah that night. After saying our final goodbyes, the 16 of us headed back to Yeshiva for another great week of learning, awaiting our next call.

Click here to learn more about becoming a CTL Partner Project.