Sunday, November 21, 2010

sports Day 2010

Sports Day 2010 in Jerusalem was again a great hit.

The students didn't want to leave the learning behind, but after remembering the good times of our past trips, decided to make the treck down to the park.

At the park our Social Workers took the time to welcome the new students and to play a friendly name memory game. It was great to see how the students are united and care about each other in a deep way.

After the social acitvity we came to the important stuff -Soccer.
The Rabbis again showed off their abilities, and were by far the best our there, but some of the students, especially the goalies on both teams had flashes of genious.
Ariel the social worker proved to be a great addition to our soccer team. I think that when we finally have a tournament against Ramat Gan, Jerusalem will surely win the soccer part of it.

After all the games we had our traditional spread. Bread and hummus, cold cuts and soda... we were set!

The day ended as we layed exhusted on the grass, energized to take on the world.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Year In Ramat Gan

I am so pleased! I am so excited!
These 2 weeks (between the Hebrew and English dates) mark our one year anniversary in Ramat Gan. We are definatly on the right track.
I must thank our staff, who are amazing and work together to achieve the most incredible things. We learned how to assist each other and use each one's strengths.
One month ago we had a great addition, Moshe, who's job is to help our students integrate back into society. In the past couple of weeks, he helped 4 of our students integrate in a most meaningful way. One is an assistant teacher, one is an assitant gardner, one works in a supermarket, and one is starting to learn in a regular Yeshiva a couple times a week and in the afternoons. And more are on the way.
I am happy to say WE ARE CHANGING THE WORLD, and I am so so proud.

Monday, November 1, 2010

English Speakers Program

After a very long time we finally took the plunge and opened an English speakers track. It was very hard for me to turn people away from the program, but language is the most basic tools that we need for rehabilitation and integration.

Finally, we decided to go for it. We took the amazing Rabbi Barry Rosen as the leader of the group. He sits with the students lifts them up and gives them hope. There are not enough words to describe his dedication and level of caring, and he is showing amazing results.

People who we thought were mute, are speaking. People who we thought did not believe in their ability to get up in the morning and keep a schedule are doing the unbelievable.

Thank you Rabbi and good luck to us all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rosh Hashana

It says that on Rosh Hashana the meritorious are written in the book of life and the culpable are written in the book of death. When we look at it it seems improbable. We read and listen to the news during the year, and they speak of evil and corruptness. What about Rosh Hashana? Why are they still around???
I think that with a different interpitation we can understand it better. The meritorious of whom the rabbis speak of are ones who look at all times to make the most of the opportunities god gave them. They look at the beauty of the world and thus they get the most out of it - they LIVE every moment. Their focus is outward so there is much to get out of life.
The culpable, are the ones who's vision is self centerd. For them, the world is dangerous, it is full of people -who are not them! who are not looking out for them!
When your definition of good is limited, your oppurtunity for happiness is limited and your life is limited.
I pray that this year we will be meritorious to look for the happiness of others, not just ourselves, and choose life!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My students the heroes

Yesterday I had a talk with my students. I told them about my ventures in America and recounted my speeches and meetings. The one thing that was most obvious was that my students are heroes. They are changing the way the world looks at mental illness. They show the world that it is possible to live a productive life even after being diagnosed with bi-polarity, or schizophrenia. They give hope to those who thought mental illness was like a death sentence. They give people who were scared of mental illness and thought that "those people" should be locked up, a different perspective. The fact that they are not giving up, that they get up in the morning, get on the bus, go and learn for hours, then continue to have a full life, is a testament not only to their strength, but to the abilities of the human race to overcome difficulties.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The strength of community - in halacha

When I was in Los Angeles, back at the great community of Em Habanim congregation, it really dawned on me how important a community is. During those tough days, when I kept making phone calls and visits to donors to no avail, the thing that kept me strong was the community. And then I had an insight. When our great sages originally determined the times of prayer, they set them to be at dawn and dusk. Those two occasions are times of uncertainty, times of shadows and fears. They correspond to times in our lives when we are surrounded by uncertainty and are trepid of being overwhelmed with life. At those times, the sages told us we must cling to a community, a Minyan of our peers, to know that we are not alone in facing our fears. In fact, even when a person prays on their own, they should have in mind a connection to a minyan that takes place at the same time. This is to instill in us the knowledge that even though we may be alone, physically, we are always connected to our community in spirit. (same is true for Shiva, but that's for another post) Although we may have an instinct to become a virtual recluse and run away from everyone when facing challenging times, the wisdom of our fathers tell us we must seek company, supportive company. I see with my students, how unsure they are sometimes about opening up to others. I also see how, if they are able to overcome this initial instinct, the social interaction and bonding does wonders for their self esteem and functional abilities.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back in Israel

My trip to the states taught me a lot. First, after telling people about our institute so many times, and getting a lot of feed back, I grew even more confident in our way. I saw that the need for a new vision is great, and that the job we do is truly amazing. Second, I saw how much the Jewish people care for each other. I met with dozens of people, who were very encouraging of our job. Even though not all could participate financially in the undertaking, all wanted to encourage us and felt good about the project. Actually, when I came back I told my students we must pray for those Jews in America who work so hard to pay for kosher food and a Jewish education. I told my students we should pray Hashem will give them strength and emunah that things are going to be better. Third, I learned about the strength of community. More on that in the next post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

California... part 2

I'm finishing off my America trip these days. I had a wonderful Shabbat at Em Habanim, my dear friend Sidney chriqui really went out of his way to help us out. He presented our program beautifully and I was extremely touched by the response of the community and the pledges given. Later I was invited to speak to some friends from Shaarey Zedek and was very well recieved as well. It is a great feeling to be a shaliach for my students and a shalich for the community in North Hollywood.
Thank you!

Monday, July 26, 2010

California here I ... am

it is nice to come back and visit in Los Angeles. I am very happy in Jerusalem and don't miss living here, but I am very happy to see the people I grew up with and learned from. It is heartwarming to share my mission with these people that shaped my life.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day At The Beach

We had a most amazing experience at the beach yesterday.

We hired a bus and took the students from Jerusalem and also Ramat Gan.

Unfortunatly, words, or even pictures, can't describe it. It is a feeling of life and rebirth. The students were elated, and there was amazing bonding.

Some students have not been at the beach in years...

I can't wait to get back to the beach

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

English Track

I am so excited. We are developing a track for English speakers in the Yeshiva. Unfortunatly, I had to turn down a few interested students because they did not have a good enough hold on the Hebrew language.
We decided to open a new track to cater to new immigrants. This track will feature learning in English, learning with an Israeli partner and learning how to speak and read basic Hebrew with professional support staff.
We are currently looking for sponsors to help us get the program off the ground - wish us luck

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Welcoming Itai- the integration specialist

I haven't updated my blog in such a long time but things have been going so great I was swamped. We have a new staff member - Itai. His Job is to get guys integrated in regular settings. He is currently helping five new guys find a regular learning setting in Yeshivot.
He is also supporting three more of our students in their integration into WORK. They manage to combine learning (and staying in touch with thier friends) with working part time. Excelent!

Itai is a life coach as well and I want to expand his position into work training and goal setting workshops, please g-d.

Rav Guy

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pessach 2010

This year we continued our tradition of volenteering in the community before Pessach and again joined hands with "good neighboor" foundation to make food baskets to needy families.

We got to the warehouse in the morning and started packing... carrots, onions, eggs... it was quite a physical activity.

We sang along while we worked and felt like this bit of manual labor was exactly the opposite of slavery in Egypt. What were doing here was helping our fellow Jew and giving up some of our physical comfort so we can be part of the Jewish nation.

After a whole morning of work, and hundreds of kilos of food, we came out of there exhusted but very very proud and happy.

Happy Passover.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


What a wonderful time we had. I feel absolutly blessed!

In honor of Rosh Hodesh Nissan and our 2 year anniversary, we took a bus and went for a whole day trip up north.
We met in Jerusalem at 8:30 and soon after that we were on our way. We picked up some of the students along the way and continued over to our Ramat Gan campus.
We picked up the rest of the guys in Ramat Gan - we actually filled up a whole bus - not to bad considering we started 2 years ago with six students and a dream.

We had an awsome time on the bus. It was a real party on wheels. We had music, jokes, tour guiding and torah. Many of the guys were encouraged by the incredible mood and came to the front of the bus to pick up the microphone.
It was touching to see how we all came together - from throughout the counrty, each with his background and culture, and really came together as friends making lasting relationships.

We had a great lunch on the north shore of the Kinneret. Some of us were brave enough to dip in the water of the hidden waterfall.
We continued to the Tzefat region and finished the night at Miron, tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

We came back at 11:30 at night. Everyone was safe and sound, filled with memories that would last a lifetime.

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