מאפלה לאורה – From Gloom to Bright Light

October 26, 2006

The Launching of Makom Balev Tzafona

700 faces of kids, bustling with excitement, chanting and singing, waving Israeli flags as well as flags representing the reason for this congregation—Makom Balev. The launching of a new northern front of the OU youth organization Makom Balev is as exciting as camp color war but more meaningful, as this is real life, affecting the very essence of their lives– their depressing immediate past and their shining hope for a better future.

Sometimes from the darkest places of sadness and despair sparks an idea which transcends and uplifts. Kids lost a summer of their lives, lived in fear, were displaced, and thought that it would take a while to find that smile which warmed the hearts of those around them. But tonight’s event reflects the culmination of great foresight, initiative, hard work, determination, and a joining of forces, to uplift the youth, and empower the children of the future to smile, laugh, and look ahead with confidence and enthusiasm.

The kids spent the day having fun—ice skating, water sports, great food and social recreation. The day concluded with an emotional display of togetherness and solidarity for the children of the north and for the possibilities that these joined activities can strengthen each individual and each community.

It was the brainchild and careful choreographing of Yisrael Goren, the director of Makom Balev. Yisrael had that foresight, planning, confidence and a great staff which would help him actualize the dream of turning the loss into gain, sadness into joy, and time lost into a permanent fixture in many northern communities.

In between dancing and special performers, he explained to the children his dream. Makom Balev is about kids, knowing how to give them support and love while at the same time, showing them fun and a good time as well as directing them towards higher goals of self-confidence, actualization and spirituality.

Every time you mention Tzfat, Kiryat Shemoneh, Teveryah, Natzrat Ilit, Acco, or Nahariya, the kids scream in pride and joy expressing the innocence of youth. A tapestry of personalities woven together under one beautiful ideal. Girls and boys, Sephardic and Ashkenaz, Ethiopian, Russian, Native Israeli—mamash kibbutz galuyot. We see the future and it looks quite bright.

A special blessing was offered by organization’s spiritual father—Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the son of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and the chief Rabbi of Tzfat. He is a rav gadol of unique proportions. Blending humility, sincerity, unwavering commitment and practical eye for kiruv, All along the way he has guided, counseled, and been at the forefront of the effort to create an all encompassing youth group which would restore kedusha, social, and most importantly simcha to the children of the north.

Rav Eliyahu had one message for the kids—Hashem simply loves you. Hashem wants to give you a bracha of love and joy, torah and Hashem’s Love. He told the children of the miracles in tzfat that of the 470 missiles fell and only one casualty. He asked every child to rise and thank Hashem—“todah raba l’avinu shebashamayim”, Hashem we love you, Hashem we want the ultimate redemption, and then bursting into song ‘hakadosh baruch hu anachnu ohavim otcha…”

The Mayor of Tzfat Yishai Maimon spoke of how seeing the faces of these children brimming with excitement and jewish pride is the answer to the terrorists, to Nasrallah, and to everyone trying to hurt us. Our strength lies in our unity, let us continue to join together, defying our enemies and building a stronger Israel.

With additional speeches by Rabbi Avi Berman, the dynamic leader of OU Israel offering much thanks to the UJC and the Jewish Agency, as well as a special message by a chanicha-Tzlil, the evening came to a close with more singing and dancing.

The kids were overjoyed by the days; events; the leaders and organizers were more inspired and empowered with the desire to forge ahead on behalf of the kids, the north and Am Yisrael.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.