Smiles Light up the Night at Gilat Chanukah Event for Special Needs Children

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Children and volunteers enjoyed special Chanukah treats. After all, Chanukah would not be complete without the requisite sweet jelly donuts. 

December 25, 2019: KKL-JNF held a festive Chanukah event at the Gilat Visitors Center, for dozens of children with complex disabilities from the Kav LaChayim association. Joining them were the children of KKL-JNF southern region staff.

“It’s really important to hold events like this one, where we can meet up with all our friends and spend time enjoying ourselves together, instead of staying alone at home," said 17-year-old Nicole Barzanski of Beersheba.

KKL-JNF Southern Region community relations representative Rinat Avraham explained that KKL-JNF has accompanied Kav LaChayim children on a variety of activities over the course of the year. “We maintain close contact, and are delighted anew every time we host them,” she said.

The children and volunteers enjoyed musical and juggling performances, made their own Hanukkah candelabras, dreidels and oil cruses, took part in a variety of board and video games and feasted on special Chanukah treats. After all, Chanukah would not be complete without the requisite sweet jelly donuts.

Nineteen-year-old Tal Shahar Hillel, a civilian national service volunteer from Moshav Bareket, explained that the Kav LaChayim association offers a solution for children with complex disabilities. “We provide clubroom facilities, organize parties and fun days, meet up on Shabbat, and go away on camps and excursions. All these activities are designed to give the children a good time, and their parents a bit of a break,” she said.

Sapir Partush, also a civilian national service volunteer at Kav LaChayim, added, “When we see the smile on the children’s faces, our hearts just fill with joy and we know that we’ve done our part.”

KKL-JNF held the event at the Gilat Visitors’ Center, where the organization’s history of activity in the fields of forestry, water, and community development are on display. Close by is the KKL-JNF nursery, where a wide variety of trees and ornamental plants are grown to populate Israel’s forests and parks.

“It’s fun to take part in these activities, meet up with all our friends and play air hockey,” said Avihai Abramovitch (19) of Gan Yavneh.

Thirteen-year-old Moriah Kandlecker of Ashdod expressed her great enjoyment of the event. “I have fun spending time with the volunteers, and especially with my all friends from Kav LaChayim,” she said.

Kav LaChayim’s activities are made possible thanks to thousands of young volunteers, who include Shira Kablan of Gan Yavneh, Roni Cohen of Netivot and Tehila Aharon of Mitzpeh Ramon. “Our greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the children happy,” said Tehila. “I came to express my love for the children, and I’ve discovered how great it is when they love you back,” said Roni. “As volunteers, we give of ourselves, but actually we get a lot more in return,” concluded Shira.

Towards the end of the event, when the performances and games were over, all the doughnuts had been consumed and the presents given out, it was time to light the Hanukkah candles. “A great light illuminates everything,” said Rinat Avraham, quoting the popular song. But the light that lit up the room came not only from the Hanukkah candles, but most of all from the children’s happy faces.