Bulgarians visit Kfar Hassidim


24 July 2008 Bulgarians visit Kfar Hassidim A group of students from the only Jewish school in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, have visited the Kfar HaNoar Hadati Educational Village at Kfar Hassidim, one of the more than 30 campuses benefiting from World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme. Plamen Petrov, Director of the Lauder-ORT Science and Technology Centre at the Dimcho Debeljanov high school in Sofia, arranged for Kfar Hassidim to be added to the packed itinerary and was very pleased with the results. The school is very different from anything the children have seen in Bulgaria and they were very impressed that the students not only learn together but live together and work on the farm before and after classes, Mr Petrov, who led the group of 11 teenagers on the Israel trip, said. We toured the school and watched a 40-minute presentation about it in the IT classroom. We also saw the dairy farm and the olive oil extraction room. The children in my group are city kids, some of them have only ever seen a cow on the television, and some of them found it difficult to cope with the farm, particularly the smell. The Kfar HaNoar Hadati Education Village was founded in 1937 as a school for children escaping European persecution and has developed into a refuge for immigrants, orphans, children at risk and students from impoverished families. Half of Kfar HaNoars 482 students live on site and all benefit from its warm, religious and accepting environment as well as the opportunity it provides for all children to study to matriculation level, regardless of their educational ability. World ORT is helping Kfar HaNoar meet the educational needs of this vulnerable student body by providing an ICT laboratory to raise the standard of science and technology learning. Also, teachers benefit from a World ORT Teacher Empowerment Centre (WOTEC), a high-tech classroom designed and equipped to allow staff to prepare interesting and inspiring lessons. In addition, World ORT has provided material support to the poorest students to help them buy text books, stationery and sports gear. One of the Bulgarian students, Teodor Mladenov, was excited by the Kfar HaNoar model. Here the people created a microcosm of the world with all the contemporary problems and decisions, Teodor said. They produce food, they produce animal and vegetable waste and try to use it for energy, and they use computers and robots in all places where its possible. The most impressive thing for me was the fact that here the people care about nature and give a years rest for the soil that the school cultivates. The Bulgarian students on the Israel tour are not Jewish, even though they attend what is the only Jewish school in Sofia. The Jewish community in their country is not large enough to sustain the whole school so only about one-third of the student roll is Jewish. However, Mr Petrov said that Jewish and non-Jewish students learn everything together including Jewish studies and Hebrew. During the 12-day tour we made a point of visiting sites of Christian significance as well as the major Jewish sites, Mr Petrov said. They were very excited to see places that are mentioned in the Bible. The first four days were spent in an intensive ulpan (conversational Hebrew) course and the children liked to use what they had learned when meeting Israelis. The annual tour of Israel is the brainchild of Becca Lazarova, the Director of the Bulgaria office of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, and is organised in Israel by Oren Zukierkorn of the Hashomer Hatzair youth group.