On a trip to Israel before the Chagim, my family and I decided to spend half a day visiting Migdal Ohr, in Migdal Haemek.
It’s been a few years since I last visited the campus and a lot has changed. After a brief and always moving meeting with Rabbi Grossman, we visited one of Migdal Ohr’s latest initiatives. Called Mishpachtonim, Migdal Ohr has redefined the way it wants to look after its children. What was once dormitories, are slowly being converted into a series of apartments. Each apartment will house a family, that has been ‘recruited ‘ by Migdal Ohr to live there together with 12 children, in what we would recognise as a foster home. The family will support its children, eat with them, help them with homework and provide them stability.
They’re even required to take them to simchas that they’re invited to. The ultimate aim here is to help boys and girls grow up in a stable family environment and break the ‘broken home’ syndrome that tends to follow on with each generation.
The second place we visited, was an elementary school that was specifically established in the wake of the Russian aliya. Many of the children attending this school are still living with their dysfunctional families, although not at immediate risk.
The school teaches them in a way blends the academic and secular standards the families demand, while ensuring that Migdal Ohr’s ethos is still present. For many attending this school, the lunch they receive might be the only hot meal they have.
The final place we visited was Zoharot. Like Zoharim, a project in the south of Israel for destitute boys from orthodox families, Zoharot does the same for girls. Unlike Zoharim, it takes young girls from all backgrounds, as they are much more vulnerable when living on the street. Zoharot combines studies and practical experience to help rebuild girls’ lives, whilst giving them a sense of purpose, by equipping them with life skills. We visited a science project where students are learning how fish farming and agriculture can work in harmony.
We also heard about their chef school, where girls are trained to become chefs and cooks, with an aim of going into the workforce or starting their own business. Suffice it to say, we left Migdal Ohr feeling fully inspired. I would encourage as many of you as possible to visit any of the Migdal Ohr campuses, with your families, on your next visit to Israel.
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