“When the soul shines, even a misty sky produces light.”
—Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook
The members of the Shared Society Committee of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection saw fit to light up the Hanukkah holiday for the community of olim (immigrants) from Ethiopia staying at their new absorption center, in a hotel in Moshav Nir Etzion, which is located near Haifa. These olim were evacuated from the absorption center in Kibbutz Ibim at the outbreak of the war and the horrible terrorist attack on Oct. 7, 2023.
Kibbutz Ibim is located in the Gaza Envelope and adjacent to the city of Sderot. Six-hundred-twenty olim from Ethiopia used to stay there, of which about 250 are children. The range of their stay in Israel is from six months to five years. Some of them speak the Hebrew language and some of them have not yet acquired the language.
The Nir Etsion hotel team accommodated the members of the community in a wonderful and optimal way. A situation room was established on the spot, kindergartens were established for the little ones, the children were accommodated in the schools in the area and a wide envelope was prepared for a long and comprehensive stay.
But let’s not forget the difficulty of being a refugee and not staying in your home and managing your life.
When the Boston-Haifa Connection was informed of the evacuation of the community, the committee unanimously decided to brighten the holiday, if only a little, in these hard times.
The party was managed and executed by Shared Society Committee members and with the collaboration of volunteers from the “Yahel” and “Lev Ehad” organizations.
A preliminary meeting was held with the director of the community in which an overview of the population staying at the hotel was given. Together with her, a plan was built for the Hanukkah event, taking into account the large number of children, planning age-appropriate activities and the integration of the adults, some of whom do not speak the language.
Our party took place on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2023.
The program included diverse activities and creative stations for all ages, the lighting of the fifth candle of Hanukkah, a performance by a sensory artist, doughnuts and hugs. The event was exciting!
The children were very happy with the arts and crafts stations that were set up for them and were operated and led by the volunteers. The rabbi of the community said a blessing, emphasizing the story of the heroism of the holiday, the heroism of the Ethiopian olim on their journey to Israel and the heroism of the fighters today in light of the terrible war, all this in the Amharic language.
The candles were lit by the director of the absorption center, the rabbi, representatives of the Boston-Haifa Connection volunteers, as well as participants in two of our programs, and Ethiopian Israelis, who came to greet and celebrate with the new olim.
The performance of the juggler excited all the audience with his various stunts and a fire show, and, of course, everyone was happy to eat delicious sufganiyot (doughnuts).
For us Shared Society Committee members, the event achieved the goal of “sharing the light”!
We managed to apply the saying of the Baal Shem Tov: “A little light repels a lot of darkness.”
Sara Rubinstein is a member of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection Shared Society Committee.