It was a moment of pure joy, a festive evening of tribute to Yad Elie founder and President Marion Kunstenaar. After more than a decade of giving, Marion took an evening off, but not entirely, because we met in her home where she was both hostess and the center of attention.
Representatives from most of Yad Elie’s current projects came to say thank you and to share in some short sentences what Yad Elie’s contributions means to them.
Together with representatives of our major donors in The Netherlands, the board and our Jerusalem Municipality Coordinator we were a colorful mix of languages, religions and cultures. Jews, Moslems, Christians, teachers, principals and laypeople, Israelis and Dutch, East and West Jerusalem, special education and normative schools, Hebrew, Arabic and English who all have one thing in common, our love for the children of Jerusalem.
The projects that receive contributions from Yad Elie are all special, but we cater to a disparate group of students. Some of the children are average students that come from disadvantaged economic and social backgrounds. Other projects help mainly gifted children while others yet are projects designed to help pupils with special needs, with either physical or mental disabilities. One thing all our projects have in common is the extraordinary devotion of their teachers and staff who give everything they have, and then some, to help their kids along. Every story we heard during this magical evening was of creativity, empathy and boundless devotion.
Letters & videos
Many teachers brought letters, video-clips and stories from the children themselves, who in their own words stated what it means to them that their schools also gives them an opportunity not only to feed their minds but also their stomachs. Some kids appreciated the fact that there are adults around who do not know them but care about them and make an effort for them. Some spoke of how they make their own food and learn a skill for life. The teenagers in an afternoon program, who work in the morning, particularly appreciated that they get a meal before their “second shift” as pupils. Maybe it was also a good opportunity for the children to stop for a moment and reflect on how come they are given food while in school?
Music Sagy Segal
Before and after the formal part of the evening, there was time to mingle and meet old and new colleagues while listening to our ‘house musician’ Sagy Segal who generously donated of his talent and time on the grand-piano. Principals and teachers gathered in little groups for an informal exchange of experiences, and as we met and enjoyed the beautiful buffet new ideas and coalitions were born.
Lea our coordinator
The evening was conceived and organized by Lea Verman, Yad Elie’s multi-talented coordinator and the person who is in regular contact with our programs.
Millions of shekels
No numbers were mentioned during the evening, but in its 12 years of activity, millions of shekels have been funneled into the Jerusalem school-system by Yad Elie. For all of us who’ve had the privilege to work with Yad Elie it was greatly satisfying to have an opportunity to say thank you to Marion who has not stopped working for this wonderful cause since she came up with the idea. If she ever feels tired, Marion will now have a whole wall of letters, plaques and other expressions of gratitude to reinvigorate her boundless energy.
For our children
None of those present at the evening are the direct recipients of Yad Elie’s donations. Yad Elie donations all go to children and youth. Nevertheless, teachers, principals and board-members came to say thank you for enabling us to be part of this project.
Through Yad Elie we all get to give some love, to make the world a better place and work for a better future, for individual children and for all of us living in the City of Peace.