Lunch and Learn in Dimona, Israel

The Lunch and Learn program provides an extended school day and a nourishing hot lunch for nearly 500 at-risk elementary school students in 13 schools in Dimona.

For more than a decade, Lunch and Learn’s students have benefited from a tailor-made educational program in a nurturing atmosphere. Countless parents have been able to return to full-time employment, knowing their children are safe and receiving opportunities to advance
scholastically and socially.

Lunch and Learn’s participants come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Their parents suffer from chronic unemployment or have low paid jobs. Most homes lack basic necessities. Even young children risk falling into a cycle of violence and crime.

Lunch and Learn is changing lives throughout Dimona. Its goals:

Extend the school day to enable parents of disadvantaged families to obtain full-time work

Provide a secure and stable afterschool framework that offers educational, social and emotional development for every child in the program

Teach children social values including responsibility, tolerance and mutual support

Increase self-confidence and feelings of achievement, fostering a desire to succeed and escape the cycle of poverty

Provide vulnerable children with a “full school-bag”—books, participation in school trips, and an opportunity for equality with their peers

Elementary school principals report significant improvement in educational achievements and behavior, and note that students show sustained progress in middle school. Our investment in Lunch and Learn is preparing the children to be Israel’s future leaders.

Lunch and Learn’s two-and-a-half hour program starts at 2:30 pm with a hot, nutritious meal—which many of the children would otherwise not receive. They do homework, get individualized lessons and participate in sports, computers, art and English. Jewish holidays are observed, and each child’s birthday is celebrated with a cake and a small gift. For many of the children, this will be their only birthday party

Hesed Eliyahu in Tibilisi Georgia

The elderly Jews of Georgia are some of the poorest in the world. The approximately 1,400 Jewish seniors who call the country home struggle to preserve their Jewish pride and personal dignity while facing unimaginable hardship. Georgia’s economy, which collapsed following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, still has not recovered. The government does not have the resources to care for the elderly and infirm, who struggle to make ends meet on an average pension of $54 a month. Increasingly cold winters and rising heating costs have only made the problem worse.

In Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, The Hesed Eliyahu Relief Center provides elderly Jews with food, home care, medical care and winter relief.

Last year, Hesed Eliyahu provided critical services to 1,376 individuals:

  • 122 people received 54,946 hours of help with basic activities of daily living, such as bathing, laundry and house cleaning
  • 1,080 were kept warm in the winter thanks to boots, overcoats and blankets
  • 1,286 received food cards enabling them to purchase groceries in local supermarkets
  • 683 received free or subsidized medications
  • 36 home bound people received 10,619 cooked Meals on Wheels
  • 79 with limited mobility were loaned 151 pieces of rehabilitative equipment

Those who can visit the Hesed Eliyahu center enjoy communal meals and social activities to help them stave off loneliness, and get access to much-needed resources. For those who are homebound, the center’s Meals on Wheels delivery staff often provide the only human contact they have.

These impoverished seniors continue to rely on our services to meet their most basic needs. Together, we are fulfilling one of our most sacred Jewish commitments—the preservation of life.

Pact in Lod, Israel

When the Jews of Ethiopia fulfilled their dream and moved to Israel, they experienced a complex and challenging transition. The young children faced vast educational, developmental and social gaps, and their parents did not know how to access the help they needed to grow and thrive. In Lod, PACT (Parents and Children Together) provides a comprehensive educational and community service for Ethiopian-Israeli families.

In Well Baby Clinics, PACT provides check-ups, promotes health awareness and offers guidance to parents with young children.

In daycares, PACT offers subsidies so the youngest children can encounter a wide range of educational and social opportunities. The program ensures that the children receive the stimulation they need.

In kindergartens, PACT prepares children for success in first grade through innovative programs, including:

  • The Literacy Enrichment Program, which builds Hebrew language skills, teaching the fundamentals of reading and writing along with basic math concepts
  • Dancing Kindergarten, which encourages children to follow instructions, develop coordination and appreciate other cultures
  • Animal therapy, which addresses behavioral, emotional and cognitive challenges including bed wetting, anxiety and painful shyness, involving parents in the therapeutic process.

Each family is assigned a social worker, who becomes a familiar and trusted face. She identifies relevant treatments and connects with social service agencies. She guides families through social security and helps them understand their other rights as Israeli citizens. In addition, PACT community liaisons inform parents about existing municipal services, encourage them to become involved in their children’s schools, and infuse school curricula with Ethiopian-Israeli culture.

A Special Needs Fund provides financial assistance for basic necessities like developmental toys for infants, eyeglasses and hearing aids. A Family Enrichment Center provides communal activities for families.

The work of PACT has created real change in Lod and other cities across Israel: parents are utilizing service and enrolling their kids in daycare, and the kids are achieving more in school. PACT is providing Ethiopian-Israeli children and their parents with the tools they need to succeed.