• By Guest Writer – Rachael Konigsberg

    Throughout the 32 years I’ve lived in Israel I’ve always dreamed of a newspaper that would print all the stories involving the “little people” who do such larger-than- life things.

    Thirty years ago I gave birth to Chava at 6:10 AM Shavuot morning. As I looked out over the Judean desert from my hospital window, I had no idea that I was going to get an up close look at one of those “little people” who would change the world. My daughter was born with a rare syndrome which would change my life forever.
    Within minutes of her birth my husband and I were told that she wouldn’t survive even two hours. And yet in her inimitable way Chava has affected our lives irreversibly for the better and many other lives as well. When the doctors checked her developmental milestones their lists did not include a smile that lights up half of Jerusalem, nor did they ever ask about her incessant caring about all who come in contact with her. They never checked for her sense of humor or her never ending love. The list goes on…

    Chava is unable to talk, walk or care for herself in any sort of independent way. Chava lives in a group home with four other young adults, assisted by the dedicated staff of Bet Noam, and  she attends Bet Noam’s day program in Kiryat Ono. Today she came home to celebrate her 30th birthday. Ten friends and ten staff from Beit Noam’s  Day Center joined her in what my husband and I could only call an amazingly efficient and well organized outing from Kiryat Ono to Jerusalem. Three specially equipped vans enabled this party to take place in our family home in the neighborhood of Har Nof, Jerusalem. The melodic sing-along combined the sweet voices of a talented few and a number of communication boards and electronic devices enabling everyone to participate. The meal came in three forms: schnitzel in pita, schnitzel cut up in pieces and schnitzel blenderized for those who can’t chew or swallow.

    Chava received the best birthday present she could have asked for. What was so amazing about all of this was the ease with which the staff provided all assistance. Every minute was well planned, including the rest stops and breaks for those who needed such The staff wove their assistance in between chatting, joining in the singing and looking through Chava’s childhood photo albums. The atmosphere was calm, caring and full of love.

    The combination of young college age students, girls participating in Sherut Leumi and Bnei Sherut provides these young people with disabilities, a community to live, learn and grow in. True friendships develop here and these young staff members continue to visit and maintain contact once they leave to do their army service and complete their University studies or get married. They maintain friendships with the chevre of Bet Noam for years to come.

    The “little people” of our little country are in my eyes big news and well worth the read!

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