Your Past Help Has Made a Home
May 14, 2013
Several years ago when I first entered Ohr Simcha, an Israeli orphanage for young Jewish boys, I was shocked. It looked like an institution totally unfit for vulnerable young children who have lived through the greatest trauma possible. Their dormitory was a drab building of cracked and moldy concrete. The boys ran wild around the campus, and nearly every garden pot was broken and wall hanging torn. The park was covered in graffiti. My heart ached for these young orphaned boys who had lost all hope in their future, and I cried out to God to reveal to me His will.
“Something has got to change here,” said the sweet, kind-hearted rabbi who had taken over as the orphanage manager just two months prior. “These children need a home, and we can only do it with The Fellowship
’s help,” he pleaded. As my father, Rabbi Eckstein, and I toured the dilapidated campus, it was clear that God was calling us to help.
After weeks of brainstorming different ways to give the boys a nice home as well as hope for the future, we decided that the best way to help the orphanage was to build Fellowship
Family Units. Instead of dozens of boys being institutionalized in one big building that’s supervised by a dorm counselor, we would give these young orphans the home atmosphere that they so desperately need and deserve.
When we presented this need to our Christian and Jewish friends abroad, I was not surprised at how they opened their hearts and put their prayers for the orphans of Israel into tangible action. Back in 2009, Fellowship
donors in Canada initiated the plans to build two of these family units – called “mishpactonim”
– and help transform the campus and children completely.
When I returned to Fellowship
-sponsored Ohr Simcha last week, my soul cried out in thanks to God and to our Fellowship
friends abroad. The campus was simply unrecognizable. The gate where I entered the orphanage was painted bright colours, beautiful flower gardens graced every walkway on campus, and the new Fellowship
Family Units truly looked like a beacon of hope. Boys sat on benches and studied the Bible, did their math lessons, or read books, and young orphans played on the new playground that The Fellowship
built for them.
“How did this all happen?” I asked the rabbi, with tears of joy rolling down my face. He answered me with three words, “Because of you.”
The orphaned boys explained to me that the old campus ignited anger in their hearts. After enduring so much pain in losing their parents and moving to an orphanage, they felt completely alone, sad, and institutionalized, as if they had done something wrong.
Aaron, a nine-year-old orphan who watched his father push his mother out of a window to her death, told me that before the Fellowship
Family Units were built he felt lost in this world, without any home or love. “But now in the Fellowship
Family Units I have a mother and father who care for me, my own bed and closet, and I eat dinner each night with the 12 other boys in my family unit,” he said, with an angelic face that was impossible not to love. “Now, because of the Fellowship
Family Units, all of us want to take care of the campus instead of destroying it out of anger and frustration, because it is our home. When we plant flowers and paint the fence we want it to stay nice, because it is our home that makes us feel happy, safe, and loved.”
Thank God there are Fellowship
Family Units in Ohr Simcha that house 12 boys in each, but there are more than 150 other orphans who still live in the institutionalized building with a dorm counselor who are praying that soon they will have their turn to move in to a family unit.
As I left the Fellowship
-supported orphanage, I felt abundant joy for the changes we have made together, Christians and Jews with hearts for Israel’s orphans. But it was also abundantly clear that our work has only just begun. Building these Fellowship
Family Units is planting good seed in good ground, and I know that all of the people of Israel will be reaping the benefits when these young boys become the next generation of Holy Land leaders. “I am here today because of the love of Christians abroad,” I imagine them saying. And everyone will answer, “Amen!”
With blessings from the Holy Land,