DJF Sends Relief to Corona-struck Israeli Families

When hearing about the plight of new immigrant families with children in Israel’s south, Danish-Jewish Friendship decided to send 100,000 DKK (approx. 14,500 USD) in relief aid with the following greeting in English, Hebrew and other languages:

Dear Friends,

We know that this situation is challenging and testing for you, but we want you to know that you are not alone and that others care deeply about you and your family’s situation. We are pleased and proud that you decided to make Israel your home and want to encourage and support you in this choice. You are a blessing to us where you are. Please accept this small gift from us, and may you find comfort and strength for the days ahead. We wish you all the best and are praying for you. G_d bless you!

Danish-Jewish Friendship,

Your friends in Denmark

Photo credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel

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Putting Down Roots

Close to Beer Sheva, new immigrants from JAFI’s Yeelim absorption center were out and about planting new shoots in connections with Tu b’Shvat. DJF is happy for all the new immigrants putting down roots in Israel and caring for the land.

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Meet Osher, an Orr Shalom House Mother

By Idit Cohen

Report to the Danish Jewish Friendship Association, January 2020

Osher is the House Mother of an Orr Shalom Home in the Center of Israel, which is home to nine adolescent boys between the ages of 13 and 17. Osher began as a National Service volunteer with Orr Shalom eight years ago. At the end of her National Service, the house mother left and there was a vacancy. Now, Osher is completing her seventh year as the Home’s House Mother! Osher is fully dedicated to “her” children, investing all of her energies and love in their successes. When you visit the Home you see how the boys flock to her, each one wanting to tell her about their day, show her a treasure they found on the home from school, share their latest report card, tell her about the book they are reading or show her their new soccer moves…

“A Day in the Life”: In Osher’s own words

I wake up every day at 6.30 am and then start to wake the boys up. As you can imagine, it can be hard to wake up nine teenage boys! By 7 am everyone is downstairs and eating breakfast, and I start making their lunches. I try to have at least three different lunch options for them – they pick the “main” and pack their own “sides” – like chips, or pretzels, cut up fruits and vegetables. I obviously want them to enjoy their lunches!

They are all teenagers, so they walk themselves to school. By 8.15 am the house is empty (usually – though obviously sometimes someone is not feeling well and they need to stay home). I use this time between 8.15 and 1 pm to do shopping, to clean the house, to have meetings with the staff in the home including tutors and the psychologist. Sometimes I have to go to meetings in the kids’ schools. Sometimes I just rest for an hour! My phone is always ringing throughout the day – you have to understand that each boy has a whole “support group” of people around him. I am in constant touch with biological parents, social workers, teachers, and psychologist. So I am the main contact person for all of the components of the “support group” and I interface between them and the boys all the time. The boys themselves will often call me throughout the day too! To ask me for rides to or from somewhere, tell me they’re going to a friend’s, or to ask me what’s for dinner!

The boys come home from school between 1 – 2.30 pm, and unwind a little before lunch. At 2.30 pm we sit down to eat a nice hot lunch together. Between 3 – 4 pm is “room time,” which is time without phones, TV, or any other screens. By this time, the tutors arrive and help the children with their homework. The National Service mentors help the older kids study for their matriculation tests. If there are kids without homework I play informal educational games with them to practice skills like English and math.
From 4 – 7 pm it’s free time, and each boy does something different. It’s also a time for therapeutic support. The boys go to friends or have friends come over – some even have girlfriends and they come over and hang out in the living room. Some boys like to play video games, others have afterschool activities or clubs (soccer is very popular!). Each boy has his own interests and I try to make sure that each one can explore their passions. For example, one of the kids is interested in becoming a DJ and we made him a sound proof mini studio in the basement – where he spends almost every afternoon. Another of our newest boys loves to garden, so we let him take over the side yard, where he started growing vegetables!

It can get pretty hectic but this is the time of the day I love the best. The house is really alive and full, and I’m always busy, driving the kids to friends or home, or to their clubs, or grocery shopping. After free time we all make dinner together and then we sit down to eat between 8 – 8.30 pm. After that the boys shower and get into bed between 9.30 and 10.30 pm depending on their age.

That’s the basic order of the day, though some days are more hectic and some days are calmer. Did I mention we also have a dog?! That definitely adds to the craziness, but also the love – the boys have all developed individual connections to her, love her and there’s always *someone* to walk her.

In terms of my personal life….well, my home life and my work life are obviously intertwined – I live where I work. I’m a really social person and my friends are really important to me, and they come and visit during the week and especially on Shabbat. My brothers also like to come visit when they can. They know my kids and they know my life – and my boys also know my friends and family too! We’re like one giant family.

Culture is really important to me – plays, and concerts. I try to include the boys whenever I can, because I want to expose them to the finer things in life, to show them art and beauty, and what is possible in the world.

Volunteering is also incredibly important to me and I try to do at least six projects per year with the boys, like selling chocolates to benefit kids with terminal illnesses; organizing hospital visits and stuff like that. It’s really important to me to show my boys that they are capable of giving – that just because they need a lot of support doesn’t mean that they can’t also give support to others who are worse off than they are.


Osher is just one- albeit incredible- example of the dedicated and loving professional staff we employ at Orr Shalom. With enormous thanks to the Danish Jewish Friendship Association’s ongoing investment, Osher, and other house mothers like her, have the support, equipment and training required to give Orr Shalom’s children a real chance to succeed.

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Lea Golan Keynote Address

Danish-Jewish Friendship was very pleased and honored to receive Lea Golan of The Jewish Agency for Israel at our annual conference in Copenhagen. Together with other speakers, Lea addressed the heavy subject of anti-Semitism with insight, defiance and stubborn courage. In her daily work, Lea is the Head of Delegation for Britain, Sweden, Holland and Central Europe.

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Flag Football Showdown

Israel and Denmark’s female national teams faced each other in an intense but good-spirited match at Jerusalem’s European Flag Football Championships this morning. Denmark got the best of Israel in a 21-12 game.

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Enjoying the Sea of Galilee

Danish-Jewish Friendship’s “Discover Israel 2019” relished the cool breeze and great views on the Sea of Galilee off of Tiberias.

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Volunteer in Israel

Would you like to serve in Israel and build a deeper connection to the Land? Check out this video. If you are interested, then click on our application form. We will get you in touch with the right people.


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Welcome to Israel!!!

Due to DJF’s faithful support and good cooperation with The Jewish Agency For Israel, we were invited to a great welcome party in Ben Gurion Int’l Airport yesterday, where 200 new olim (immigrants) arrived from France, Russia, and South America. Much love and congratulations to all the new Israelis!

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Jerusalem Light Festival

Impressions from the Old City set to the song “Adonai Eloheinu – The Lord is our God”

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On Shavuot and Orr Shalom

Safe Haven Banner

One of the names of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot is Chag Hakatzir-the Festival for reaping- as the Holiday marks the beginning of the wheat harvest in Israel. To grow wheat, one must go through many steps including tilling and preparing the land, planting seeds, and then raking, watering, and weeding the field. Similarly, caring for children takes time, care and investment. At Orr Shalom, we aim to nurture and grow our children so that eventually, they will mature and leave their home “field” and flourish.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Shavuot!

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Newsletter Includes the Following Topics:
• Children Under Attack: Orr Shalom’s Therapeutic family group Homes During Rocket Attacks
• A Lasting Legacy Through Orr Shalom: Investment in Our Future
• Safe Haven Overnight Camp: Passover Fun for 60 Children
• New in “Against all Odds”: Graduate Program Courses and New Apartments!
• Sharing Our Knowledge Internationally: Orr Shalom Leading the Pack!
Children Under Attack
Last month, hundreds of Orr Shalom children, graduates and staff- located throughout Southern Israel- found themselves under rocket fire. Orr Shalom operates seven Therapeutic Family Group Homes and oversees several foster families, that were directly under attack.

Unfortunately, for most of these children rocket attacks are not new. The Orr Shalom professional staff were prepared and ready to provide much needed support, love and warmth during the difficult times. In all, four Orr Shalom homes were evacuated and hosted in kibbutzim around the country.
* * *

A Lasting Legacy Through Orr Shalom

Orr Shalom is honored to announce a generous gift through the Maria Polanska Foundation. The Foundation is directly funding the extra-curricular activities of our children, such as dance, sport, music and much more. This investment has provided these children with an even better chance to maximize their individual potential and to build a path to a successful and healthy future.

Supporting our Foster Families
Ongoing Support and Guidance
On May 26, Orr Shalom, and the Haruv Institute, held a gathering and workshop on how to talk to children about trauma and pain.

As part of the ongoing support to our foster families, this month, Orr Shalom began running group sessions to teach our foster parents DBT skills. DBT has been found to be an impactful and beneficial approach to help manage trauma and decrease the effects of traumatic experiences.
Our Foster Families in the Arab Community
Recently, Orr Shalom held a fun event to support our foster families in the Israeli-Arab community. The families enjoyed a day packed with activities, sport, arts and crafts and most importantly met other families fostering children.

Safe Haven Overnight Camp- Passover 2019

We are proud to report on another successful Safe Haven session for 46 of our children who were unable to return to their biological parents during the Passover break. The campers took part in a range of fun and exciting activities at Kanot Youth Village. Our Safe Haven Director, staff, and children report that this was one of the best camps yet.

New in “Against all Odds”: The Orr Shalom Graduate Program

This year, thanks in large part to the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia (JFGP,) the Orr Shalom Graduate Program is celebrating its fifth year of activities and support for graduates. Orr Shalom thanks the JFGP for their ongoing partnership and support.

“Handy-Woman” Course: In a new initiative to provide our graduates with more “real-life” skills in preparation for living an independent life, our graduate women will learn basic carpentry, electric work, and other household maintenance skills.

New Apartments: In partnership with the Ministry of Welfare, Orr Shalom is pleased to report that three additional apartments for Orr Shalom Graduates will open in the Summer of 2019. The locations for the apartments have yet to be finalized.

Sharing our Knowledge Internationally

As Orr Shalom turns 40 we are being recognized globally as a leading organization in the field of foster care and therapeutic interventions. Orr Shalom’s involvement in the following two international conferences highlight our growing influence in this field:
Second Annual International Conference on Child Maltreatment:
Orr Shalom’s Chief Psychologist, Stacey Yehoshua recently presented at the International Conference on Child Maltreatment, the second annual international conference sponsored by Haruv USA and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Learning Center. Stacey shared Orr Shalom’s experience in providing DBT therapy and the success we have experienced implementing this within our Therapeutic Family Group Homes.

FICE 34th World Conference: Orr Shalom is proud to announce our participation at the FICE (International Federation of Educative Communities) 34th World Congress, this coming October. The World Congress is held every three years, and provides professionals working with children at risk and/or with special needs, as well as youth in out-of-home care with the opportunity to learn, discuss and share best practices. The Congress aims to highlight new and impactful initiatives. To this end, Orr Shalom therapeutic professionals will present on topics such as our “Emergency Foster Care Program” and “Helping Foster Families Cope with Uncertainty and Changing Reality”.

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