A Day of Fun for the Children of Be’er Sheva
By: Kochava London
“Our enemies fight with rockets, but today, you, the students of Machon Maayan, have demonstrated that the Jewish people fight with unity and acts of kindness,” said Binyamin, a resident of Be’er Sheva.
On Thursdsay, November 22, the students of Machon Maayan, a one year study program in Israel for young woman focused on personal growth, Torah learning, leadership training and connecting with the People and State of Israel, organized and ran a “Yom Kef” – a “Day of Fun”, for the children of Be’er Sheva at Davida’s farm in Moshav Yishi just outside of Bet Shemesh. Two buses of children arrived, in addition to parents and even some grandparents.
For the past few weeks, and particularly for the last 8 days during Operation Pillar of Defense, the citizens of Be’er Sheva have experienced a constant barrage of rockets. The children, who have been cooped up in small bomb shelters, were able to enjoy a day free of sirens and the accompanying terror of running to a safe room at a seconds notice.
When the children arrived at the farm, the Machon Maayan students greeted them with clapping and singing. Each child received a yellow shirt designed by two students with an emblem that read “Machon Maayan im Toshvei Hadarom” – “Machon Maayan is with the Residents of the South”.
“When they first walked in they were nervous, but once they started doing some of the activities, they got the biggest smiles on their faces. It really impacted me and gave me so much pleasure knowing that I was providing that happiness for them,” said Orli Friedman, a Machon Maayan student from Chicago, Illinois. Orli ran an arts and crafts booth where the children were able to paint wooden dreidels and make bracelets with beads and pipe cleaners.
Arts and crafts, music, pony rides, two jumping castles, swings, a short hike, a petting zoo, and a bonfire were just a few of the fun things going on at Davida’s farm. The children enjoyed the cotton candy machine, popcorn, homemade cookies, s’mores, and an Israeli Chanuka favorite – sufganiot (jelly donuts). The event was sponsored by parents of Machon Maayan students and alumni who donated generously to the cause.
On the farm there were goats, chickens, turkeys, an ostrich, peacocks, horses, turtles, guinea pigs, rabbits, a camel, and a donkey. The Be’er Sheva children were able to brush and ride horses and the petting zoo was open for children to hold rabbits and guinea pigs. Davida, who generously offered her farm for the “Yom Kef”, commented, “Playing with animals can be very therapeutic for children who have gone through trauma like the children of Be’er Sheva”.
Parents were able to relax while students took their children around the farm to the various booths. The student organizers felt that it was important for the parents to finally have some time to sit quietly knowing that their children were being looked after, and were happy.
At the end of the day, dancing broke out and all of the participants sang “Am Yisroel Chai” – “The Nation of Israel Lives.” There were smiles on the faces of both the children and the Machon Maayan students. The children were given goody bags with homemade cookies and dreidels before they left.
Alana Fischer, a Machon Maayan student from Orlando, Florida said, “It’s an incredible feeling to know that you have played an active role in Operation Pillar of Defense. We might not be on the front-lines but we tried our hardest to bring at least 5 hours of relief and happiness to children who should never have to suffer like this again”.