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February 9, 2012 3:38 pm

Guess Who Came to Dinner – And Why! (PHOTOS)

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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Dinner guests enjoyed the music of one of israel's newest opera sensations. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

In seven welcoming homes throughout New York City and New Jersey, gracious families welcomed supporters of ELEM to join them for delicious dinners, some exciting entertainment, and some important information. Friends, old and new, gathered for a series of community Dinners February 4th in support of ELEM’s “Awake at Night” program.

ELEM is dedicated to getting Israeli teenagers in trouble off the streets. It provides assistance to homeless teenagers, child prostitutes and youth in trouble because of a physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive environment

ELEM is the acronym of an Israeli based amutah (non-profit organization) whose name translates as “Youth in Distress.” Many of the youth ELEM serves who live below the poverty line, may be new immigrants, or come from dysfunctional families. Its network includes 250 professionals and almost 2,000 volunteers in Israel, enabling the organization to reach tens of thousands of youth annually. ELEM is non-judgmental and innovative and includes group and individual therapy, mentoring, occupational and educational placement programs. Its centers offer important, available alternatives to a life on the street.

In addition to its Information and counseling centers available to youth from the far reaches of the North to Eilat at Israel’s southernmost point, ELEM runs a fleet of outreach vans that reach the hidden ‘children of the night.’ Many communities have requested that ELEM establish local outreach programs – which ELEM look forward to doing once funds are secured.

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“Helping young Israeli children find relief from working in prostitution is a cause all ELEM-Entry activists strongly believe in,” stated Yuval Sheer, co-president of ELEM-Entry. “The money raised is a testament to the efforts of ELEM-Entry’s dedicated volunteers. While this was our best Community Dinner, none of us are willing to stop our work on behalf of our most vulnerable children.”

The target population is boys, girls and transgender between the ages of 13 to 21 who are involved in prostitution. Awake at Night provides unique response to youth with minority gender identities or cultural backgrounds.

Hosts Ze'ev and Natalie welcomed about forty guests to their SOHO home for a delicious buffet and an evening of information about the work of ELEM. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

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