June 12, 2008
About 6 weeks ago, just as we were beginning our work, an email arrived from Libby Reichman, founder of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Israel. (http://www.bigbrothers.org.il) Trained as a social worker, Libby realized that there were many children in Israel who came from troubled single-parent homes who would benefit from a warm and positive relationship with an adult. Her response to that problem was to begin Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Israel. Enlisting the help of mentors, adults who commit to meeting weekly with their "littles" to share some quality time at a movie, doing homework, taking a walk or just talking, BBBS has succeeded not only in Jerusalem but has now opened a branch in Tel Aviv as well.
Libby always has stories to share – most of these children come from terribly tragic circumstances and when possible, Libby feels compelled to provide more than the usual services of BBBS…sometimes she just has to try to resolve other incredibly difficult problems these kids and their families face. It was one of those problems that Libby shared six weeks ago…
B. is a woman who made aliya from the FSU with her husband 12 years ago. After arriving in Israel the couple had two children who are now 6 and 9 years old. Unfortunately, B.’s husband became abusive and she had to flee to a local shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence. After leaving the shelter, B. and the children lived in their own apartment supported by the shelter and then eventually moved into their own tiny apartment where she and the kids sleep in the same room. B. supports her family by working as a domestic and has overcome the trauma and strain of a violent situation. Those who worked with her believe that she has succeeded in every possible way despite unbelievable odds. What she and her children miss in their lives is family – all of B’s family still live in the FSU – she has absolutely no one living in Israel. What they needed was to be able to return to the FSU to visit all of their relatives and once they had passports the cost of $3600 was all that was keeping them from making the journey.
Libby asked if we could help in any way. How do you say no to something like this? Clearly this was a family that had overcome much adversity – how great it would be for them to meet a grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins. We told Libby that if she could raise $3100, we would provide the last $500 for this meaningful mitzvah. Today’s email announced that the $3100 was raised and the purchase of tickets was in the works – could we send our portion? It was a pleasure to be part of this on behalf of Good People donors!