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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chesed Mission 2014/5774: Day 2

Today was the first official day of Chesed Mission 2014. We started the day by visiting Ilanot, a school for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. The children put on a musical performance for us, taking great pride in their choir.  Afterwards, we socialized with them and looked through the shuk they set up for Tu B'shvat.  Some of us even got to help the children with their animal therapy. Next we continued to Karmei Ha'ir, a small soup kitchen in Jerusalem which serves hot meals to people in need. While the girls peeled potatoes and carrots, the boys cleaned dishes and served food to the visitors.
After a lunch break in the Hadassah hospital mall, we gave out presents to the children who are patients there. Big or small, girl or boy, Jewish or non-Jewish, there were no distinctions; whether it was a toy, pillow, or a piece of clothing, everyone received a gift. Personally, I was very affected by a young boy named Yitzchak. He was laying in bed with a frown on his face and his arm in a cast.  My friends and I brought him a toy car, and after realizing he didn't want company, we left. We later returned, and his father gave us a heartfelt thank you, saying Yitzchak had been in a car accident the day before and was extremely upset, but our visit cheered him up. As we walked out the door, I turned around and saw Yitzchak smile for the first time as he played with his car.
Next we went to Shalva, where we met the founder, Kalman, and heard the amazing story of his son, Yosi, who is known as the "Helen Keller of Israel." We then had a dance party and rikkudim with all the children there. After a break for free time, we had the opportunity to hear from a panel of speakers organized by Our Soldiers Speak. We met a military reporter from the Jerusalem Post, an army major, and a female medical commander. All three of them described army life in Israel, and how vital the IDF is to the survival of this state. Visiting all these places made me personally realize how lucky I am, and how I should take more time to appreciate all the blessings in my life. Today was truly an amazing day. Looking Forward to day two tomorrow...
~Shani Zenilman