Stories

Chaya Blatberg, mother of Shmulik, resident in the Beit Julia hostel

Chaya Blatberg“We pray “Al tashlicheni le’et zikna” (Don’t discard us in old age) in particular for our son who was not fortunate to set up a family, but who has the indisputable right to age with dignity and without worries. AKIM-Jerusalem’s devoted and skilled staff members work incessantly to fill up the gaps and attend to the many needs of their clients.

May all who assist and support these endeavors be blessed”.


Anya Assas, sister of Yevgeni, resident in the Beit Julia hostel

Anya Assas“Yevgeni came to live in Beit Julia after our father’s death, two years ago. He grew up in our family and was always surrounded by family both in Russia and here in Israel, but he never had any friends. My parents and I did not think he missed either social life or work so I was astounded when he moved into the hostel. He became so happy and friendly with his co-residents. He wants to participate in every activity and not miss anything!

We even discovered that he has a special gift for painting. He has really changed for the better, full of energy and liked by all his new friends. Now, after two years, I feel very confident that Yevgeni is in a place that protects him and where his needs are attended to. I trust the staff members and I know they care for his every need, that they listen to him and they cooperate with us, his family. I have come to understand how much social life is important to people like my brother, he really needs it and I now understand how much he missed it before”.

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Rabbi Binyamin and Hindy Walfish, parents of Tova, resident at Beit Leo

Rabbi Binyamin and Hindy WalfishOur dream was to make Aliyah to Jerusalem but we never thought it would be possible since we have a developmentally disabled daughter who was living comfortably in the first Jewish Federation sponsored group home in the state of New Jersey.

We visited Israel with a group of people planning Aliyah among whom were other parents in a similar position to ourselves. We were fortunate to meet with the staff of AKIM-Jerusalem and were impressed with the professionalism as well as the loving care they provided their residents. We learned that our dream could finally be realized and that Tova would receive the same attention that she had enjoyed in America.

AKIM-Jerusalem assisted us with all the “red tape” associated with meeting with the Social Services, waiting lists, etc. and as soon as a new group home was opened by the Israeli government with AKIM-Jerusalem appointed to manage it, Tova moved in.

AKIM-Jerusalem provides our daughter with comfortable living accommodations, social activities and a caring and professional staff. We are secure in the knowledge that her well-being – both physical and mental – as well as her happiness will always be a top priority with their skilled personnel”.

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Wafa, mother of Mohammed from the “Nofshon”

Wafa“The main reason that I bring my children to the “Nofshon” is the safety I feel there and my conviction that it is like a second home for my children and no different from our own home. The children who come to the “Nofshon” enjoy a change of atmosphere and they play there. I have family abroad that I had not seen for many years. Today, thanks to this Respite Care Center, I can travel to them once a year while knowing that my children are in a safe place and that I need not worry at all”.

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Yael’s Mother, Batsheva Chai, z’l Home Care Support program

Yael together with her counselor“Our Yael is 21 years old. She was born with mental disabilities and learned at different schools of Special Education. She also suffers from severe epilepsy and so she cannot be left alone – even for a minute – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that all the family is involved with her care, and we pay a high price for this. She was a member of different programs that could not offer such high individual care so we were forced to continually move her. For this reason and because we couldn’t find a truly suitable solution for her in the afternoons, she became very lonely.

Two years ago we heard about AKIM-Jerusalem and the Home Care support program they operate. I came to the meeting at their offices in great trepidation that again we would be rejected. However, I was greatly surprised. Through AKIM-Jerusalem we have received a wonderful care-giver who comes to our home weekly on a regular basis and spends two hours in fun activities and teaching social skills with Yael. My daughter looks forward all week long to these meetings and glows with pleasure when her care-giver arrives. These two hours gives me some quality time alone”.

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Meir Heller, Holocaust survivor and Resident of Beit Julia

Meir Heller, Holocaust survivor Resident of Beit JuliaMeir was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936. At age 6 he was taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp where his four brothers were murdered, while he became a victim of Dr. Mengele’s infamous medical experiments. Because his health deteriorated almost to the point of death he was hospitalized for an extended period of time which ultimately saved his life and that of his parents. In 1949 Meir and his family arrived in Israel.

Meir has been a resident of Beit Julia ever since the hostel opened in 1969. In recent years Meir has become weaker, he is becoming more dependent and is wheelchair-bound. In spite of his situation, Meir is a happy person who loves life and participates in many leisure time programs, such as hydrotherapy, therapeutic horseback riding, Chassidic singing, going to the zoo and more. Meir does not forsake any opportunity to enjoy life and for that he is a symbol of determination and persistence.


Shlomo Katz, Artist and Resident of Beit Julia

Shlomo Katz – Artist Resident of Beit JuliaAged 58 and born in Romania, Shlomo has lived in the Beit Julia hostel since the home was set up in 1969. Shlomo came to the hostel after being incarcerated in a closed institution for many years. His memories from those years are very harsh.

Shlomo has blossomed at Beit Julia where he participates in many activities including drawing and ceramics. He very much identifies himself as an artist and loves to paint which has dramatically developed over the last few years. His art work has been exhibited several times and many of his pictures were sold to the public.

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Ronja Neher, Germany. Volunteer, 2012-2013

Ronja Neher, Germany Volunteer, 2012-2013After having been a volunteer I can definitely say that this was a great decision. I came to discover a new culture and lifestyle, to learn a new language, to work with people who need an ear to listen, a hand to help and a smile to smile back to. I planned to travel to a country I had never seen before and to meet people I could call friends within time. And now I can say that I found all of this and even more.


Jeffrey Rashba, Volunteer at Beit Julia & “Miles for Smiles Bi’shvil AKIM-Jerusalem” trekker

Jeffrey Rashba (together with Shmuel) My interest in volunteering with AKIM-Jerusalem started with the annual sponsored trek which I have been involved with for more than three years as a participant and fundraiser. But I wanted to do more, to increase my involvement and to satisfy the cliché of “giving back to the community” by actually spending time with some of the residents at one of this association’s hostels. After more than 18 months of working with Avraham, a resident of Beit Julia, I have realized that I want to continue volunteering for more selfish reasons: I learn so much from Avraham! I hope he is able to benefit from our time together as much as I feel rewarded from my Tuesday afternoons with him.

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Wilma Bosman, Holland. Volunteer, August 2011-August 2013

Wilma BosmanAfter some preparations, I was ready for this adventure and… an adventure it was working in another country, a different culture and a tongue breaking language. It has been a wonderful time and I have learned a lot from my residents, my colleagues, my friends and everybody else I met. Being trusted with the care for these residents I see as a great privilege. All I can say it has been a very rewarding period in my life, which I will always remember.

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Ilana Alroy-Brosh, “Friends of AKIM-Jerusalem” Chair

Ilana Alroy- BroshMany years ago I realized what a unique thing my grandparents, Drs. Avraham and Malka (Maly) Spighel, the founders of AKIM-Jerusalem, had created. I knew that I would never be able to follow in their remarkable footsteps yet I tried to find some way to pay them their due respects and return their boundless love. That was when I decided to set up a “Friends of AKIM-Jerusalem” group to promote the quality of life of all of AKIM-Jerusalem’s clients.

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Gadiel Saffer, A Volunteer at the theater workshop

Gadiel Saffer  A Volunteer at the theater workshop“This is my fifth year of volunteering at the AKIM-Jerusalem’s theater workshop. Since I began, there have been about 15 persons with intellectual disabilities who participated in the workshop. Some of them had stage-fright at first and their ability to express themselves before an audience was very limited. Over the course of time, their self-confidence grew as did their ability to stand in front of an audience.

The sense that one’s volunteering helps other people and makes them happy is very gratifying”.

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Lydia Trachsel, Switzerland. Seventh Time Volunteer

Lydia Trachsel“This is my 7th winter of volunteering at AKIM-Jerusalem. I love to work with the kids in the “Tzaharon” extended school day program” at the Ben Yehuda School as well as doing crafts like weaving, knitting and drawing with the residents of the “Magen” hostel.

Once again this year, I made Hanukiyot (menorahs) with the residents. They were so proud when we put them out on the first evening of the festival… moments like this are worth more than thousands of dollars to me!”

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Marna Schlebusch, South Africa. January 2010-December 2011 / January 2013-December 2013

Marna SchlebuschTo me the saying has always been true… “It is more blessed, makes one happier and more to be envied to Give than to Receive.” It’s truer now than it has ever been before, there is something about Loving that is FREEING and SATISFYING… There’s no agenda and no expectation, just an invitation to grow and change, becoming the change we want to see in this world.

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Rina Biran, Volunteer and Board Member

Rina Biran“I have practiced paper cutting as a hobby for many years. I enjoy it and my family and friends have complimented me on the work I have produced. As a board member of AKIM-Jerusalem, I thought that maybe some of the residents of Beit Leo could develop an interest and enjoy paper cutting so I began running a small workshop on a voluntary basis. The participants were overwhelming positive in their reactions to the workshop and they succeeded preparing their first paper cuttings even in the first workshop session. Later they produced a range of different paper designs and affixed them on colored backgrounds to complete beautiful, decorative pictures. Today, the paper cutting workshop continues to be very active and enjoyable and we all eagerly wait for the next Sunday afternoon session”.

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Johannes Weymar, Germany. Volunteer, September 2009-August 2010

Johannes Weymar“Facing the decision where to spend my alternative service, only two things were clear to me: I wanted to go to Israel and I wanted to be involved with an aid organization. When I read about AKIM-Jerusalem’s ethos of “Three Pillars” I was sure: “This is it, this is what I want to do.”

After working here I can say, that it was an absolutely right decision! The work is really fun and I know that I am doing a good thing. I have developed a very good and close relationship to the residents and to Israel and its people who are so welcoming and open-hearted that I really feel “at home”.

Volunteering at AKIM-Jerusalem is the perfect chance not only to find out about a new and exciting culture, but also to find out about oneself, to grow up and develop”.

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Katharina “Kahta” Meurer, Germany. September 2009-March 2010

Katharina "Kahta" Meurer, Germany“I’m studying for my Social Work degree in Germany and finishing off the third semester with an internship/practical semester over five and a half months at AKIM-Jerusalem. In my opinion it’s such a great chance to spend time in Israel. You meet such incredible people from so many walks of life and different cultural and religious backgrounds.

When I look back on the last months I have just one feeling: Thankfulness!”

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Markus Rasanen, Finland. Volunteer, September 2008-June 2010

Markus RasanenI arrived in Israel in 2006 to study in a college. While there I felt like I needed to get closer to the real Israeli culture and after meeting some foreign volunteers from AKIM-Jerusalem I asked to join them in their work. I’m so glad that they welcomed me as a volunteer. It is now my second year of volunteering and it has been a life-changing experience.

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Congregation “Kol HaNeshama”

The relationship between the Magen hostel and Congregation “Kol Ha’Neshama” began on Sukkot in 1985. The congregation had no place to put up a sukkah so the residents of Magen welcomed them into theirs. The next week, during Simchat Torah, members of Kol Ha’Neshama danced with their Torah scroll all the way down to Magen and once again celebrated together.

From then on residents of Magen began to join “Kol Ha’Neshama” for Shabbat services. This relationship has deepened over the years – so much so that every year, on the morning of Simchat Torah, we celebrate together at the hostel. When residents of Magen come to our Shabbat service they are given the honor of opening the Aron Kodesh (ark), leading us in song and saying the blessing over the bread. One of the high points of this relationship was when a collective bat mitzvah for the elderly women residents of Magen was celebrated together with “Kol Ha’Neshama” community.