World ORT helps to raise morale of Israeli kids in rocket zones


20 March 2008 World ORT helps to raise morale of Israeli kids in rocket zones Children in northern Israel, who spent the summer of 2006 sheltering from Hezbollahs Katyusha rockets, have brought some Purim cheer to two schools in the countrys south that are under daily threat of Hamas rockets fired from Gaza. Students at two northern schools participating in World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) project have collected sweets and other goodies for their peers at the Kadima Mada schools in Hof Ashkelon and Shaar HaNegev, whose days are repeatedly interrupted by Code Red sirens and the consequent 15-second sprint for shelter from Qassam rockets. The World ORT Representative Office in Israel paid for and arranged the transport of the traditional Purim presents mishloach manot from the Ofek High School in Mateh Asher and the Rogozin High School in Kiryat Ata. The office also brought nine students from Kiryat Ata to join a fun day that it had arranged, in cooperation with Bank Leumi, for Shaar HaNegev students in the safety of Lod. Shaar HaNegev teacher Zohar Nir-Levi, who was at the party, said: The children enjoyed themselves so much; it was wonderful. And they are so grateful to everyone who organised it. It was in the open air: the area was grassed and they listened to live music, there were costumes and games. But most of all it was relaxed. There was no worry about having to be close to a bomb shelter. No-one was tensely expecting a Code Red. It was great for the children and the teachers. The moment we returned home, the tension returned. But while we were at the party we could celebrate with all our heart. At the fun day, one of the Kiryat Ata students, Noa, read out a letter from her classmates who could not be there. One-and-a-half years ago, Noa said, the Second Lebanon War broke out and we, the northern residents, were used as Israel front line. For two months we experienced the things that youve been going through for seven years. We are here today to show you that all the residents of Israel are thinking about you, care for you and understand your feelings. We look up to you for your courage and patience. Israel exists because of you and without the residential areas surrounding Gaza we wouldnt have a country to live in. We hope and wish that this Purim will be a quiet one and that youll be able to celebrate like all children in Israel. Teachers from Ofek High School personally delivered their students mishloach manot at a Purim fun day held at the Shikma High School in Hof Ashkelon. Because of the situation, they were not accompanied by children from Ofek. Shikma teacher Ofra Halperin said her students were enjoying their pre-Purim party, dressing up in costumes and having fun, when the Ofek teachers were introduced. It was a big surprise for the children when the mishloach manot were given out, Mrs Halperin said. They were very glad. Its very nice to receive this support because the people in the north were in this situation 18 months ago so they understand how we feel. It was very nice to receive the teachers; we havent had such guests before so its very important for us. The Shaar HaNegev students have also received mishloach manot courtesy of children at King Solomon High School in London. King Solomon student Shir Gomes de Mesquita, whose mother is the Head of World ORTs International Liaison Department, took the initiative to raise awareness of the situation in Israeli communities around Gaza and raise money at the same time. Helped by some senior students, and with the cooperation of the staff, Shir went from class to class telling children what students their own age were experiencing in some parts of Israel. She then gave red wristbands, symbolic of the Code Red air raid sirens, to every student in return for a donation raising a total 400 enough to send 600 packages to Shaar HaNegev. I come from an Israeli family so I read the Israeli media and know whats going on in Sderot and other communities, Shir said. But many people at school rely on the English media and so they dont really appreciate how bad the situation is. I think we have raised awareness of the situation there and we have sent a message to people in Israel saying that we appreciate what they are going through every day.