This Sukkot, Israel’s Immigrant Children Given Chance to Enjoy the Holiday
When the Yemin Orde Youth Village was established on Mount Carmel in northern Israel in 1953, few could have predicted the impact it would have on thousands of children.
The village, which first housed Holocaust orphans, was named in honor of British Major General Orde Charles Wingate, a staunch Zionist who used his position in Palestine during the British Mandate period to push for Jewish settlement in the land.
Today, the village serves as a home and provides educational opportunities to some 500 children and teenagers from around the globe including Ethiopia, Eastern Europe, South America and other areas. Many children come from underprivileged backgrounds and have suffered from extreme poverty or neglect.
“The backgrounds are difficult at times but the parents want them to succeed, which is why they send them to Yemin Orde,” Amit Treister, Vice President of Yemin Orde, told Tazpit. “These children also didn’t always get exposed to the educational system, and here they find their place and have a lot of motivation to succeed.”
This holiday season, the village is ensuring that as many children as possible will be able to enjoy the Jewish festivities. During Rosh Hashanah, the village hosted 100 children who were given the opportunity to participate in traditional prayers and enjoy hot meals. On Yom Kippur, the youth village hosted 400 children and took them to Tsfat before the fast to say the Selichot prayers for forgiveness.
“We invite all children that we can and also ask them if they want to bring their parents because we really want them to feel at home,” Treister told Tazpit.
In some cases, Yemin Orde even acts as a surrogate family. “We know of one young girl who has no family at all in Israel and we are like her family,” said Triester.
In preparation for Sukkot, the children participated in an organized tour of Jerusalem, during which they built a Sukkah. They also participated in the traditional Sukkot parade in the capital. “This parade is to connect all kinds of different cultures together, and we want Yemin Orde to be a part of it,” Treister said.
Vikah and Likah, 16 and 17 respectively, described to Tazpit their personal experiences in the youth village during the holidays.
“We are looking forward to building the Sukkah and eating in it. We love the Jewish culture and there are so many things to do on Sukkot in the village.”