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COMMUNITY NEWS

Divote

- By Cheryl Unterslak

John and Anna Moshal’s grandson Jacob recently celebrated his Barmitzvah. Jacob chose to share his simcha with four boys whose lives had been affected by acts of terrorism and to include them in his celebrations. He could have had a Barmitzvah all on his own getting all the attention and koved but instead he chose to share this special day with others. This incredibly special simcha took place in Jerusalem at the Kottel.

All of the boys arrived with their parents at the Kottel and met Jacob and his parents, grandparents and friends and they were given their new Teffilin. It was a very special and emotional moment when they all stood at the Kottel davening Shachrit wearing their Tefillin for the very first time. There were a lot of celebrations.

 The barmitzvah boys were each given their first pair of Tefillin as well as a backpack that the Moshal family had packed for each of the boys that was filled with magnificent gifts. The barmitzvah boys and their parents were so appreciative of this connection and the love and support at a very special time in their lives. Jacob and his parents are an example to others. 

After davening, the boys and their parents all went to the home of Rabbi Lapidot in the Old City and enjoyed a scrumptious meal. Some of the bochrim from the Yeshivah came and added some simcha to the occasion by singing and dancing and fun was had by all. 

Everyone went home on a high after having the most touching experience and they all felt so special. I personally spoke to the families after the simcha and they could not stop saying how wonderful everything was and how happy they all were. They were very grateful to Jacob and his

A huge Mazeltov to Jacob, Elchanan, Ezra, Aharon, Oz and Adir. 

Jacob also chose to do something special at his Barmitzvah celebrations in London a month later. At the simcha all the children that were there packed stunning backpacks for a large number of injured soldiers in Israel. Each of the children got a bio and photo of each of the soldiers and these backpacks will be delivered to the injured soldiers in Israel before Rosh Hashanah.

 Kol Hakavod Jacob!!!



This is from the hero of the Har Nof shul attack. He was badly injured when he went to the shul and shot the terrorists and is still recovering.

 Dear Cheryl and people of South Africa

As your name indicates, you are devoted and I have no other words to describe how amazing the work that you do is. We would like to convey our sincere gratitude for your financial assistance with the summer camp 2016.

This is one of the many ways you have already helped us, the gifts that made the financial help and us so happy you gave us this past year.

There are no words to describe our feelings and excitement; your kindness is embedded in our hearts.

Another big thank you goes to dear Riki. She is the contact between us and Cheryl. Riki is a true woman of kindness (chesed). She is, as you, a totally committed and a part of our life. She is our saving grace in a crisis situation. She is a woman of valour (eshet chayal) in the true sense of the word. Thanks Riki.

We are able to give back only in happiness!

Thanks and our deepest appreciation.

Yitzchak and Eti




This is from Nadav who was injured as a soldier in Operation Protective edge, and then his brother Gilad was horrifically stabbed as a soldier in Hevron in Dec 2015 and it is a miracle he survived. They both received backpacks and other gifts from children in SA.


Hey Cheryl!


I’d like to thank you for all that you gave me and my brother, Gilad.
Those packages from all the kids are quite useful! And my friends are totally diggin’ the clothes :)

Also, recently I’ve received the two CD’s of African music you sent me - and I must say I really like the music! Nothing is better that the African beats.

So, I want to say thank you once again for everything! It’s a great feeling to have when you’re loved and appreciated from across the continent :)

I hope you have a great shabbat!
Sincerely,
Nadav 


COMMUNITY NEWS

Talmud Torah

- By Cheryl Unterslak

It’s no secret that the Durban Jewish community is a small one. I have often been told quotes such as “dynamite comes in small packages” (for those who don’t know me, its a reference to my height) and this phrase is not suited to any place better than Durban. My story shows how the actions of a few who embody true Jewish values can change an individual’s life forever.

Thanks to a traditional family and the spiritual guidance from people like Shlomo, I always knew I was Jewish but I never had a connection or desire to get involved further with my Judaism. I attended a non-Jewish high school because it was closer to home but this meant I had no access to Jewish education. In grade 10 Talmud Torah came to Crawford and I was introduced to inspiring Rabbonim such as Rabbi Vegoda and Rabbi Perez. They began to show me a whole new side to Jewish learning and were able to teach in a way that was relevant to the youth. At the end of grade 11 I had the opportunity to go on Israel Encounter. This was yet another life changing experience because it sparked my Zionism and allowed me to be a part of the greater Jewish world. The learning through Talmud Torah continued until the end of high school and I left Crawford with an entirely different understanding of what it meant to be Jewish.

Jewish education is a unique problem because I have found that it is quite easy to teach someone about Judaism but it’s far more difficult to inspire someone with Judaism. If a person is taught properly, that small seed of inspiration that was planted will grow for the rest of their life. This is exactly what Talmud Torah does. It inspires young Jews to learn further and strengthen that connection to Judaism. It is a real gem created by John Moshal and his Talmud Torah team and is a much needed investment in our youth, that will ensure the community lasts long into the future!


COMMUNITY NEWS

Divote

By Cheryl Unterslak

DIVOTE wants to thank all the wonderful donors who bought magnificent Yomtov clothing for the children in Israel, who have been affected by acts of terrorism. The DIVOTE team have packed a large amount of packages which have the children’s names on and the name of the person who cared about them and sent them the gifts.

The Durban Jewish community is always so generous and supportive, and I appreciate everyone’s support enormously.

These bags will be delivered to the children in their homes around the whole of Israel before the Chagim and they will be told about the Durban and South African Community. Appointments are made and the car is packed full of the bags for all the children in the families being visited and we deliver in a different part of Israel every day. 

DIVOTE also received gifts from numerous schools and organizations in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Oudtshoorn, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.

I have gone around the country talking at all the Jewish day schools and I have been so impressed with each and every school, their staff, students and their dedication to Am Yisrael. The children’s enthusiasm and happiness to be able to do an act of chesed for the children in Israel and to be able to connect with them has been very special to see. 

Thank you so much everyone who cared about these special children who have dealt with an enormous amount of trauma in their lives and for giving them happiness, comfort and support.

THANK YOU!!!


COMMUNITY NEWS

Divote

By Cheryl Unterslak

I recently went to Israel to deliver numerous gifts to many children that have been affected by acts of terrorism during the last four months in Israel. It was a very difficult trip both physically and emotionally and I saw and heard some horrific things. I learnt that most victims of car ramming’s don’t only have their legs and hips shattered but they have very bad traumatic head injuries which causes them a lot of pain, trauma, memory loss and in some cases brain damage. I also saw how terrible the stabbings were and was shocked to hear stories of individuals being stabbed over thirty or forty times, and I saw the results of these vicious attacks. It was dreadful to see how they were slashed all over their bodies. The survivors of the stabbing attacks have to endure so many operations, plastic surgery and ongoing rehabilitation to use their limbs again. Some have to attend a pain clinic to cope with the continuous pain. These heroes have also had to fight for their lives with an attacker so close. I also found out that so many of the attackers that use knives are high on drugs at the time of the attack. Sadly, I met three victims who had not only been stabbed but also been injured by gun shots from soldiers trying to kill the terrorist. 


Every single hero that I met who had survived a shooting, car ramming or stabbing was determined to heal and get better!! One told me that he refused to be considered disabled and won’t refer to himself like that and will make sure that he is 100% well again soon.

Everyone who received one of the 146 backpacks that I delivered on this trip, was very touched and grateful for all of the love and support that came with all of the magnificent gifts. (Numerous other gifts were also delivered and I will report on that in another article). Many wrote letters to the children and organisations in South Africa and I am in the process of doing reports and distributing these letters. Most families talk about how the support of Am Yisrael from all over the World gives them strength to carry on. 

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in these acts of chesed which mean so much to our heroes in Israel. 


COMMUNITY NEWS

Divote

DIVOTE has been receiving numerous backpacks filled by the children at most of the Jewish day schools in Johannesburg. The children in the nursery schools, primary and high are wonderful and enthusiastic supporters of DIVOTE and are all so happy to be able to do an act of chesed that will bring happiness and comfort to so many children affected by terrorism. All the bags are for children affected in the last four months.

The children wrote such beautiful and meaningful letters, and some were decorated beautifully and had drawings. I have no doubt that the letters will touch the children and give them chizuk. I have loved meeting the children at the schools and to see their enthusiasm to do this chesed and to see such wonderful Jewish day schools.

The Port Elizabeth Jewish and Christian community has been extremely supportive and I really appreciate their support as well as the constant support of the amazing Oudtshoorn community and the way that they embrace this project.

In the photo is Dedee sitting amongst a small portion of the bags that were all ready to be packed into the boxes to go to Israel. I look forward to delivering the bags around the whole of Israel and to tell them about the South African community and about how much they care. I will report back on my return. 

DIVOTE is a vehicle for everyone to be able to participate in practical Zionism, and when someone hears about the horrific attacks in Israel and are sad about it, they can do something for the children/families. Through all of the DIVOTE projects everyone can make a difference.


COMMUNITY NEWS

Divote

- By Cheryl Unterslak

During my recent trip to Israel I had the opportunity to go and meet with injured soldiers in Beit Halochem, which is the most remarkably impressive and professional organization, that offers so much to the badly injured soldiers and more recently to some terror victims. 

I then spent time at Tel Hashomer hospital delivering care parcels to the soldiers filled with toiletries, games and lots of letters from students and families in South Africa. All of the soldiers appreciated the gifts and support immensely. Added to this very special experience, was that I went around the hospital with a group of Native American Red Indians, who were on a solidarity tour of Israel and visited many hospitals.  

In Israel, some of the DIVOTE South African volunteers (some who are living there and some who were on holiday) went to the hospitals delivering the gift parcels to the soldiers/border policeman and civilians that had recently been stabbed. Everyone appreciated the gifts and all of the support from the South African community and was so touched that the South Africans care about them. Our volunteers stayed with each of them for a while to hear their story and about their injuries and gave them chizuk and comfort. DIVOTE will be doing a collection for gifts for them and their siblings in January for the DIVOTE backpack project. We will also be giving backpacks to the children that have been recently orphaned. If you would like to be part of this project please contact me. 


During the recent spate of increased violent terrorist attacks in Israel, DIVOTE responded immediately and got donations of all sorts of toiletries, games, letters of support and all sorts of other gifts from around the country. The PE community was incredible and after just a few hours of asking them, donations starting coming in thanks to a lovely woman, Suzette, who saw the opportunity and spread the word. Thank you to everyone who contributed to these very special collections.

The soldiers who have all been so badly injured are our Jewish heroes today, not only for the state of Israel but also for the whole Jewish nation.

DIVOTE is always there to show support to those affected by war and terrorism in Israel through our various projects.

Cheryl: cheryl@divote.co.za 

A beautiful story:

After the war in Gaza last year I went to visit a severely injured soldier in hospital and on my trip to Israel now, I visited the family to give the soldier and his siblings, backpacks from children in SA. Unfortunately the soldier could not be at home that day so I arranged to take him out for lunch a few days later. A friend of mine told me that her granddaughter of 6 had taken all of her toys to the park during the war to collect money for injured soldiers and she still had her seventy shekels and 79 ugarot and desperately wanted to give it to an injured soldier. My friend brought her granddaughter to the lunch and this gorgeous little Ayshis Chayil, thanked the soldier for protecting her and her family in Israel, and for protecting the whole of Eretz Yisrael, and then she gave him her tzedakah box with a bow on it. The soldier was deeply touched and thanked her and spoke to her so beautifully. He appreciated her act of love and support so much! It was an incredible and emotional scene to watch. This is the Jewish people!


COMMUNITY NEWS

Divote

Cheryl Unterslak

I have just returned from a very successful, emotional and rewarding trip to Israel, to deliver all the Yomtov outfits that so many people have generously donated. This year for Rosh Hashanah there were 46 large boxes of happiness sent to Israel. 

All day, every day and night, I travelled around the whole of Israel to deliver these packets full of dignity, love, support and happiness. Every single one of the children got so excited to get new clothing to wear for the Chagim and they are all so grateful. I always get asked funny questions about life in South Africa, and I now travel with a map showing where South Africa is, as so many don’t know and they are amazed that there are Jews who live in South Africa and that their gifts came from so far away. 

I realise how blessed I am to have the opportunity to see the happiness of these children who have endured so much trauma and pain and to be the shaliach of the South African Jewish community. I take as many photos as I am allowed to take (I always ask the families first for permission), and I then send the donors the photo’s and a short report so that they are aware of the huge mitzvah that they have done.

I want to thank every individual, organization and school for their kindness and generosity in donating the outfits. Some donated much needed underwear and pajamas and others toys. Every solitary gift made a difference and gave them comfort and pride. I appreciate your support of DIVOTE and these special children enormously. Below are a few photos of the children receiving their clothing with this article.

Next month, I will explain about the distribution that I did of wonderful soldier gift packets for the injured soldiers and all the letters of support. There are some very inspirational stories of these heroes, which continue to encourage me. Thank you to everyone who donates gifts for the Soldier packs and the injured soldier backpacks. All the soldiers who receive them are grateful for the support.

We continue to collect gifts for all the children injured by acts of hatred and terrorism and numerous injured soldiers - so if you would like to be involved please contact me on: cheryl@divote.co.za


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Throughout the year, the wonderful DIVOTE team in Israel is in contact with families who have been affected by terrorism. As soon as they hear of a baby being born to one of these families, they contact the family and deliver a baby bag full of magnificent gifts from the South African Jewish and Christian community.  

As you can see, in the photos, the new parents are excited to receive the beautiful clothing and accessories and for the support that comes with it. They always appreciate the fact that DIVOTE stays in contact with them and is continuously there to show them that we care. It is always wonderful to hear them talking about how special the South African community is and how we continue to care.

DIVOTE also continues to deliver wedding gifts to new couples affected by terrorism. In the photo you can see a daughter of Eitan Mualami, who was severely injured in the Har Nof shul attack, with her gift from a special woman in the Durban community. 

DIVOTE is appealing to anyone, for gifts for the wedding boxes. This can be any household item that is brand new. (Please no glass or ceramic). Gift suggestions for the wedding boxes are;  linen, towels, cooking utensils, cutlery etc., dishcloths, oven gloves, measuring spoons and cups, tin openers, frying pans and other kitchen items. 

You can always drop these off at the DIVOTE offices, or if you would prefer, you are welcome to call me on 083 799 6440.                                  


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

DURING MY LAST VISIT TO ISRAEL I DELIVERED BACKPACKS AND GIFTS OF SUPPORT TO A NUMBER OF BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN WHOSE FATHERS HAD BEEN KILLED EITHER DURING THE WAR LAST SUMMER, OR IN A TERRORIST ATTACK DURING THE LAST SIX MONTHS.

I met their very brave mothers who have been left with so much pain and responsibility. Both of the mothers shown in the photos gave birth to their babies on their own after their husbands had been killed, and I visited one who will give birth in July to her second child all on her own as her husband was killed on the Syrian border a few months ago. It is heartbreaking. Baruch Hashem they all do have family who provide them with a support system.

I have attached a few photos of some of the children who now no longer have a father. Sadly there were too many.

There are also so many children whose fathers were injured in the IDF during the war last year or in a terrorist attack and their little lives are changed forever. I visited some of those children and I plan to deliver to many of them during my next visit once backpacks are filled for them.

The huge big “hug” that the gifts and letters give to the children is enormous, and I am told so many times that the love and support helps to keep them going and gives them all a lot of chizuk. I am also told often that I must never think that the gifts are small because in fact they are “huge”.

One of the women whose husband was killed in the army during the war last year told his wife when he left the house to go and fight that he promised that he would be back and would do the garden around their house for her. Sadly he was killed and when three very special boys heard about this promise they came forward and designed, planted and arranged everything for the garden. It is magnificent and the children love it! What makes this gesture even more special is the fact that the three young men who did all the work all lost their fathers in the IDF previously.  


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

I have just returned from a very rewarding trip to Israel. It was the largest delivery that DIVOTE has done in the last fourteen years because sadly there have been so many more families/children to visit and deliver gift packages to show them that we care about them and send them happiness and comfort from South Africa.

I visited the families who have all had their lives affected by the Har Nof shul massacre and met the most incredible heroes. I saw and heard shocking things that happened during the attack but I also heard about so many miracles! It is terrible that four very special men were killed and four so badly injured, but it is also miraculous that so many were able to get out and not be attacked in such a brutal way.

I met so many heroes of the Jewish people. I saw Eitan Mualami’s hand which was chopped off by a meat clever when he put his arm up to defend himself and then was sewn back on and it is now attached and working!!! He still has to have a great deal of therapy on it and on his other wounds. I heard how Shmuel Goldstein was cut so badly with the meat cleaver, but when the terrorists put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger three times, the gun jammed and they got irritated with him and told him to “get out”, and that is how the paramedics and traffic policemen who arrived at the scene knew that there was a terrorist attack inside. I met Yitzchak Weitzman the traffic policeman who arrived to stop the attack and put his life in danger and who was shot saving so many others, and I met Yaakov Ehrlich who was the paramedic who arrived first and saved so many lives at the scene and sadly was also injured. There is so much to tell about this delivery to the Har Nof families and so many others, and I will report back next month.

There is a book that has come out called “Living on”, written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis, which writes about some of the many miracles that took place during that attack. All the proceeds from the book will go to the victims’ families. 



From the Goldstein family, the father of whom was severely injured in the Har Nof Massacre, to the SA community:

We want to thank you for the wonderful and very practical presents that you sent to our kids. They could feel the thoughtfulness and caring that went into packing up all those backpacks. It made them so so happy. We really appreciate it. This gave us that warm feeling that all the Jews in the entire world are here with us to do whatever they could to ease our pain. 

Thanx a million.

Shmuel & Miri Goldstein


Community News

Devote

Cheryl Unterslak

This letter was received from the wife of one of the men who was badly injured in the Har Nof shul attack. Her husband was attacked by a meat cleaver to his head and is still in a coma. If you would like to daven for his full recovery his name is Chaim Yechiel ben Malka, as he needs it.

After the attack one of his sons got engaged and DIVOTE gave the couple a wedding gift box and then when one of their daughters had a baby girl DIVOTE gave the new parents a DIVOTE baby bag. These gifts show the families about the support from the South African community.

One of our dedicated DIVOTE volunteers delivered both gifts to the families. I will meet with all the members of the family after Pesach and I will give all the children backpacks filled with gifts and letters of support from the children at a number of the Jewish day schools in Johannesburg. I will report back when I return.

“To the South African Jewish community

We received a beautiful-looking box for our engaged son with this email address along, with the teddies and baby present.

Please accept our thank you and you should merit many acts of kindness. All the best

Risa Rotman”


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

DIVOTE runs the Bar and Batmitzvah project for children in Israel throughout the year. This is for young men and women who have had their lives affected by acts of terrorism and who celebrate their bar and Batmitzvah during the year. DIVOTE partners them with bar and batmitzvah students in South Africa and this project has been hugely successful, and the students in Israel have received a great deal of fun, happiness and comfort from these gifts. A number of friendships have now developed and I keep hearing about how some are still exchanging gifts and emails etc. and some are even planning to meet each other soon.

DIVOTE is very busy at the moment filling over a hundred backpacks for children affected by terrorism in the last six months in Israel, and if anyone would like to participate and fill a backpack or even donate one gift and a letter, DIVOTE will be happy to send it to the children. DIVOTE is working with children from birth to 20 years old.

If anyone would like to donate any other gifts to the wedding box project, the baby bags project or the Yomtov clothing project please contact me or drop it off at our offices at the Durban Jewish Centre.

DIVOTE can only continue to bring happiness and comfort to these special children with the generosity and support of people who care. I am very grateful to all the wonderful people who care about these children and want to show them that there are people who acknowledge their suffering and pain and who care. Thank you!


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

Sadly over the last few months there have been numerous terrorist attacks in Israel with many killed and injured. DIVOTE is busy filling backpacks for a large number of children whose fathers were either killed or injured in the massacre in the Har Nof synagogue. One of the girls, whose father is still in hospital after the attack and is badly injured, became batmitzvah and because of the circumstances she did not have a big batmitzvah party. DIVOTE stepped in and paid for decorations and food for her to have a batmitzvah party at a friend’s home. Two of DIVOTE’s dedicated volunteers arranged and attended the party, which was enjoyed by all.

Two of the men injured in the same attack and are still in hospital, one of them in a coma, had grandchildren born during the last month. DIVOTE delivered baby bags to both of the new couples to show them that we are there for them and support them at this difficult time, and wish them Mazeltov.

Five different schools in Johannesburg, as well as some caring individuals, are busy filling backpacks for the numerous children of the four men killed in the Har Nof attack, as well as the men who are badly injured, and those will be delivered after Pesach. The paramedic who was also badly injured while he was trying to help the injured, will also have backpacks given to his children.

I will report back on these and numerous other deliveries after Pesach.


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

Divote received the following letter from Chaya F, the mother of three small children who were stoned and injured during Purim last year. The children received Yomtov clothing for the Chagim from Divote. In the accompanying photo the two girls are seen wearing their new dresses.

Dear Cheryl,

How are you?

I still never got a chance to write to you since your nice visit

How are you feeling?

We are B”h good 

trying to move on

we are now going with Mendy to a very good doctor who we hope will help him start sleeping through the night again

he gave him some pills to take but we hope that together with his therapy it will help him

we are going through not such an easy time,

Cheryl, I dont want to complain now (even though you are so nice and so feel when you hear these hard things that just telling you what happens makes me feel better

I am writing now to thank you and thank you for all the STUNNING nice packages

WE LOVE AND ENJOY SO MUCH ALL THE THINGS

my kids have such nice coats, pajamas, socks, crocks, shirts, pants and all the nice presents

cheryl, they are so happy with everything and always tell everyone that its from south Africa!

you made such a big difference for them and for me

we have no words to thank

all the best!

Chaya


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak


Talmud Torah brings Rabbi Vegoda to Durban once a month

and during these trips he gives a ladies shiur and he teaches

at the various schools. His shiurim are outstanding, giving

everyone so much insight into various aspects of Judaism and

about having a relationship with Hashem. All the students that

he teaches adore him and have enormous respect for him.

In his lesson at Crawford during October we had a

brocha party for the students where he taught them

how to acknowledge Hashem and to have gratitude to

Hashem when they eat. The brocha party was run in a

fun and educational way with all the students participating.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and learnt a lot.


If anyone is interested in joining Rabbi Vegoda’s shiurim

next year please give me a call, and if any students would

like to attend his shiurim at the schools please give me a call

and we will see if we can arrange something.


We thank Rabbi Vegoda for inspiring us all!


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak


The Yomtov clothing appeal this

year was extremely successful with

more schools around the country

participating, as well as various organizations

and individuals.


I had the opportunity to deliver the clothing

to various families around Israel and it was

so special and very rewarding to see their

happiness, excitement and gratitude to have

the opportunity to be able to have something

new to wear for the Chagim. I saw such

happy faces and received lots of hugs and

kisses. Every single person who participated

by buying clothing, caps, underwear etc. all

did a huge mitzvah.


I have prepared numerous reports with

photos which I have sent to as many donors

as possible. Many of the reports have letters

and cards attached from the children saying

thank you. If anyone didn’t get a photo it

meant that the child did not want to be

photographed and we respected that.

I thank everyone for their generosity,

kindness and participation.


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

During my recent trip to Israel, I was privileged to be able to deliver numerous gift parcels to injured soldiers in the hospitals in Israel. Sadly there were many soldiers still in hospital in different units and many will still be in the rehabilitation sections of the hospital for a long time. I was not able to personally give gifts to the soldiers in the burn units, those that were in a coma, and those who were in the psych wards, but I was able to talk to their families and tell them about the support of the South African Jewish community, and I left their gifts with them.

The majority of the gifts came from the children at Minnie Berson preschool in Sandton, Johannesburg. These adorable children wrote the most beautiful letters to the soldiers with cute drawings and the soldiers really appreciated these. The Ohr Somayach shul in JHB and a very special woman in Durban also contributed to the packages making them fabulous. Each gift package was filled with a water bottle, designer T-shirts, toiletries, an assortment of games, beanies, cards, sweets and dried fruit, stationery, underwear, socks, letters and extras. Many of the soldiers were sitting in their beds playing the games even before we left the hospital, and I was so glad that we had included them in the packages.

It was very sad to see such gorgeous young men so badly injured, but the amazing thing was that all of them were so positive about their injuries and their recovery even if it would take a long time, and about Eretz Yisrael. The gift packages had a note in Hebrew attached, thanking them for being heroes, and for protecting everyone in Eretz Yisrael and Choetz L’Eretz, (something that many said that they had not thought of before). My friend and I chatted to them about their families, their injuries and about their future and they were a huge inspiration to us. They also explained about the very close combat that they had with those attacking them, and about the abundant support, food, and gifts they received from the Israeli public during the war was so special, and that it had given them a lot of strength and courage. 

In every single ward the wall opposite their beds was totally covered with enormous amounts of letters and drawings from children in Israel wishing the soldiers a speedy recovery and thanking them for protecting them in Israel. The soldiers were so touched that we cared about them all the way from South Africa and they all thanked me and so did the family members and friends that were with some of them. The outside wall of the Tel Hashomer hospital was also covered in drawings, letters, flags and banners wishing the soldiers well. Many of the soldiers also had the flag of their army unit hanging with pride in their ward.

I was blessed to have been able to have had the opportunity to have met these great heroes of Israel and the Jewish people, and we need to continue to pray for their full recovery. I asked them what they needed and all gave me the same answer…. homemade meals. Below are photographs of a few of the many soldiers that I visited.


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED, TOYS, GAMES AND ARTS AND CRAFTS FOR THE CHILDREN SITTING IN THE BOMB SHELTERS IN ISRAEL.

There was a wonderful response from everyone in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Gifts poured in from toys shops, toy importers, from all three Jewish communities and from some of the Zionist Christian groups.

All the gifts were placed into the DIVOTE gift packets and approximately three thousand were sent to Israel. Some of the larger toys that didn’t fit into gift packages were sent to two different “safe rooms” in Ashdod and Nitzan, where the children came to play while the rockets came in. Dede and I, together with some volunteers, packed all day for several days and sent boxes weekly, and we were overwhelmed by the generosity and support from everyone. Some individuals and schools around the country sent letters that were included in the packages with wonderful words of support. Some of the children in Johannesburg have already received beautiful letters and messages expressing their gratitude from some of the children that received their letters in Israel.

There was a huge team of volunteers from Nitzan in the South of Israel that undertook to distribute to children in many of the kibbutzim, yishuvim and cities in the south of Israel that were being bombarded by rockets. Some of the parcels were also given to the children and siblings of injured soldiers that were in hospital so that the children had something to keep them occupied, as they sat at the bedside of their loved one day after day.

Some of the gift parcels were also given to children of soldiers that were killed fighting in Gaza. The volunteers reported back to us that all the children were extremely grateful for their gifts and the support that came with them, and the parents were so appreciative that the community of South Africa cared about them and had done such a kindness for them and their children. Everyone thanked the community and sent everyone lots of brachot.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came to help pack and make boxes and made up the gift packets. THANK YOU!!  


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

During my last trip before Pesach, I delivered numerous backpacks filled with gifts to children whose lives have been affected by acts of terrorism during the last year.

In the first photo is Adelle, in her specialized wheelchair, with her very affectionate and loving sister. Adelle was in the car with her mother when terrorists threw a large brick into the car causing it to crash. Sadly Adelle took the brunt of the crash and she is severely mentally and physically disabled. At the moment she is still in hospital and her parents take shifts staying with her, never leaving her side, and working constantly to help her to make progress. The family has many challenging years ahead, but they are remarkably brave and positive, and show tremendous faith. There have been many such attacks in recent years, where large stones or bricks are thrown through the windows of cars causing them to crash, and these are recognized as terrorist attacks.

In the second photo is little Yahel Ohr Moshe whose father was killed at the end of 2013 when he was on his way to one of the hospitals in Jerusalem where he volunteered once a week to be a medical clown. He used to play with the children in the wards and make them laugh and brought them a lot of happiness. Two terrorists came and stabbed him to death. He left behind his beautiful wife and five gorgeous small children. Yahel Ohr Moshe is holding one of the toys that he was donated by the children at King David Sandton.

In the third photo are three siblings with their backpacks. Their father was killed in a bombing. The girl in the middle had won a tournament that afternoon, so there was a lot of excitement and happiness when I went to visit that evening.

In the fourth photo is Shirel, with her wedding box. Her wedding was to take place a few weeks after my visit. She was so happy and grateful for the gifts and the support. Shirel’s brother was killed by a rocket from Gaza. 

In the fifth photo is Dvir who was severely injured during Sukkoth last year, when a rock was thrown into his vehicle, followed by a Molotov cocktail. He has had a lot of surgery to treat his burns and sadly will have still more to endure. In the photo he is with his lovely wife and his newborn baby, who was born while he was in hospital. It was very sad to see the video of the attack on YouTube and see the hatred. Dvir is one of my heroes and is so incredibly brave and positive.


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

I am on the way to Israel to deliver an enormous number of gifts for brides, grooms, babies and children, all of whom have been affected by acts of terrorism in the last year. Many have been affected by stoning, sniper fire, acid being thrown, and shootings. On my return, I will report back.

We are also preparing to start the Yomtov clothing appeal. We have to start early so that we can collect, pack and have the gifts cleared through both South African and Israeli customs in time for Yom Tov. We collect brand new clothing for numerous Israeli children who are affected by strife and/or poverty. Please, if anyone would like to participate in this appeal, contact me and I will give you the name and age of a child for whom to purchase clothing.

This special mitzvah gives the children so much happiness and dignity. Each year Yomtov Appeal is a wonderful success and this is because of all your contributions.


COMMUNITY NEWS

A PROJECT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN JEWISH COMMUNITY

Cheryl Unterslak

DIVOTE volunteers in Israel recently delivered wedding boxes to a few brides and grooms who have recently married, and who have all had their lives dramatically changed by acts of terrorism.

In the photo you can see Noam and his bride Yael. They are a gorgeous young couple. Noam’s father was killed in 2011 in a shooting incident when he was on his way to the Cave of Hamachpela. Two other women were badly injured in the same incident.

It was wonderful that Noam found his lovely bride and the family had a beautiful simcha. His father,Rav, was missed but the young couple are looking forward to building a new life together. Noam and Yael appreciated it that a Jewish family so far away in Durban had thought about them and had shown them love and support at this very special and emotional time in their lives.

I don’t have photos of our other deliveries, but DIVOTE and the donors have been thanked by all the families, who appreciated all the wonderful new goodies that they received.

If you have any new and unused household items that you don’t need (and is smaller than A4 size), please would you donate it to one of these special couples in Israel. You can also sponsor a wedding gift box, giving the box in lieu of sending a wedding gift to friends or family overseas (or at home).

DIVOTE sends your wedding couple an email explaining that the wedding box was given in their name in lieu of a gift and we explain who it goes to and why.


COMMUNITY NEWS

DIVOTE A PROJECT OF THE SAJC

Cheryl Unterslak


Each year DIVOTE distributes numerous Bar and Batmitzvah
gifts to young men and women who have celebrated this
milestone in their lives. All the children of Shaarei Torah School in
Johannesburg who have celebrated their Bar/Batmitzvah within
the year are partnered with someone from DIVOTE who has
suffered from acts of terrorism and who benefit from the gifts.

They also benefit from the love, support and comfort that these
gifts bring. I have delivered many of these gifts during both my
trips to Israel this year and, included with this article, are some
photos of these special children. The project is a huge success
and the children are so happy and excited!

Many of the Shaarei Torah School children choose to purchase a
Bar/Batmitzvah gift for a child in Israel in lieu of a gift for a for a
Bar/Batmitzvah child in South Africa or elsewhere in the world.
DIVOTE sends these generous young people a letter explaining
the wonderful gift that was bought in their name. I send as much
feedback as possible to the donors of these gifts so that they can
see and hear about the mitzvah that they have done.

If anyone would like to participate in this project and offer these
DIVOTE children some happiness and support, or should any
Bar/Batmitzvah child wish to be partnered with a child in Israel who has suffered from a traumatic act of terrorism please contact me on
083 7996 440.


DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

I want to share some stories of some of our very special donations….and there are many more.
Every few months a very special and generous family in Johannesburg, send an enormous donation to DIVOTE for the children in Israel. Their donation always includes a large amount of baby clothing and accessories which are packed into our DIVOTE baby bags and then distributed to new parents who have previously been affected by acts of terrorism. These baby bags are filled with gifts to help the new parents and they also give them a great comfort and happiness knowing that people care about them. In their last donation last month the family also packed in packets clothing for small children including shoes and toys.  These have already been sent to Israel to be distributed to children who need them and were also added to the Chanukah gift packs. They have also donated brand new prams which have been a huge blessing to some of our families who desperately needed prams.
This wonderful couple also always send a lot of soft cuddly toys which are the most perfect gift for the children as they give them happiness and comfort. Some of the children that we give them to have never owned a fluffy toy before and it is so wonderful and heartwarming to see their excitement and joy with their cuddly new toy.
Sandton Sinai School in Johannesburg had a chesed day one Sunday where the children decorated the clothing of a few hundred” Build a Bears” that were kindly donated by their store. What a wonderful way of teaching young children to do acts of kindness for other children in Israel and to have fun at the same time. This collection and distribution in Israel was a huge success and I watched as so many children who received these bears were laughing with happiness, and hugging them. Someone pointed out to me that soft cuddly toys absorb tears and I agree.
There are two woman in Durban; Ruth and Maureen who knit baby jerseys, sew pajamas, buy toys and pack them all together in sizes in such a magnificent loving way, and these are distributed to children in Israel. Many of these packages were sent to Israel now in the children’s Chanukah gift packets.
The “Gates of Zion Church” in Hillcrest have been incredibly special and supportive, and show a great love of Israel and her people by constantly sending donations of knitted baby gifts, blankets, clothing, toys etc., and financial support. These donations are given to new parents in DIVOTE baby bags. Many other items are also sent to the organization EFRAT in Jerusalem who try to prevent mothers from aborting their babies by offering them financial support and baby accessories to help them with the financial burden of a new baby. It is an excellent organization run by Rabbi Sussenstein, who has saved the lives of many babies in Israel that would have been aborted because the families just couldn’t afford another child.
In the last few months DIVOTE has been receiving gifts for the children in Israel from the community in Port Elizabeth, from Oudhtshorn run by Mrs. Ida Lipschitz, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is wonderful to see how people in the whole of South Africa have embraced the DIVOTE project and how they want to bring joy, happiness and comfort to children in Israel….and they do!
I want to thank the many other people who support DIVOTE and all of these special children, and who make a difference in their lives. May Hashem bless you all in abundance!!!!!!!


DIVOTE

AdCheryl Unterslak

I recently returned from an extremely successful trip to Israel where I delivered packets of brand new Yomtov clothing to hundreds of children around Israel. It was wonderful to have my son Moshe coming with me every day to meet the families and to see their incredible happiness when receiving new clothing for the Chagim and to receive all the love and support that comes with it. Moshe told me that even though he had heard his whole life about the happiness of the children when they receive the gift , only now when he witnessed for himself how excited and happy the children were did he understand it properly. He was wonderful with the children and received many thank you hugs and kisses.
Every single child appreciated their new clothing enormously and it was wonderful to see the children admiring and kissing each item and some even tried on their outfits and modelled them for us. Those who received winter jackets were so excited to have a lovely warm  jacket for the winter.
In the photos you can see a few of the children who received clothing from the DBN community as well as from children in the Jewish Schools around the whole country.
Thank you to everyone who gave these children the opportunity of having the dignity and happiness of having something new to wear for the Chagim. You received many brochas and many wishes for a Shana Tova.
I am busy doing the reports and many of you who bought outfits will receive photos and letters from the children thanking you. Some children do not want to be photographed and we respect that.
Shana Tova to everyone, and please G-d this year will be peaceful!


DIVOTE

AdCheryl Unterslak

DIVOTE’s Bar and Batmitzvah project has been very successful over the years, with Bar and Batmitzvoth in South Africa partnering with someone in Israel who is also celebrating their Bar and Batmitzvah within the same year. DIVOTE distributes approximately thirty of these gifts around the whole of Israel. Many of the recipients  write letters  to the student who was partnered with them and some have also sent gifts back. It has been the most wonderful way of connecting Jewish young adults with each other. If anyone would like to be part of this project please contact me on:  Cheryl@divote.co.za


DIVOTE

AdCheryl Unterslak

DIVOTE has distributed numerous DIVOTE backpacks filled with lots of love and happiness this year and we still continue to receive many more for a large number of children affected by terrorism in Israel. Currently there are many bags already  packed into boxes ready for distribution on my next trip to Israel. A few people have asked me if children ever receive bags a second time and the answer is NO. Children only receive backpacks from DIVOTE once and there are a number of families that will receive Yomtov clothing in our Rosh Hashanah appeal for a few years.
These backpacks filled with lots of love and support are guaranteed to bring the child happiness, comfort and it is wonderful to know that there are people in South Africa who care about them. If anyone would like to fill a bag, (as an individual, a group of friends or an organization), please contact me.
In the first photo you can see Yiska with her gifts from King David Linksfieds School. Her father has been injured twice.
In the second photo you can see Odel whose father was killed when he went to daven at Kever Yosef.
In the third photo you can see Mor whose mother was seriously injured.


DIVOTE

AdCheryl Unterslak

During my last trip to Israel, I delivered numerous gifts around the whole country but the majority of them were delivered to families in the South of Israel who had their lives changed forever from the destruction caused by the rockets that poured into Israel before, during and after “Operation Pillar of Strength” at the end of last year.
I visited numerous families in Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Sderot and the surrounding areas for days, and heard about their suffering; it was heartbreaking. One of the examples is family S whose husband and father of three small children was killed when after taking  his family to the bomb shelter he went back to help others  to the bomb shelter. Their home was destroyed and they are now staying in tempory accommodation, and are  to deal with their enormous loss and the numerous changes in their lives. They are battling.
Family A’s home was completely destroyed by a rocket, and their teenage son Yitzchak was killed. I met with his parents and siblings and they were in terrible emotional pain trying to deal with the loss of their beloved son as well as their home and belongings. One of the daughters gave birth to a baby boy a few months afterwards and they have named the baby Yitzchak after his late uncle.
I visited family Z in their tiny apartment where the mother of four small children was lying on the couch recovering from surgeries after having her legs badly injured when a rocket fell next to her while she was running towards a bomb shelter. This is a very close loving family who had financial challenges before, and now have many more challenges to deal with while she and her family heal physically, emotionally and financially.
These are just a few examples of how badly the families in the South are affected by the rockets, and how many lives were changed forever in a second. There are so many of these families dealing with a lot of pain and an enormous amount suffering with PTSD. The families were all so happy with the gifts to make the children happy and they were all comforted knowing that there are Jews from South Africa who are aware of their suffering and who really do care about them and show their support. All the gifts that were distributed to these families came from the children at Kind David Linksfield Park in Johannesburg, from Eden in Johannesburg and Sylvia and Ayshis Chayil who always brings a lot of joy and comfort to lots of these special children over the years.


DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support and generosity in donating gifts for the children all over the South of Israel  who had been affected by the constant rockets that came into that area before and during the “Operation Pillar of Strength” at the end of 2012.  The appeal was a great success and we  packed a large amount of DIVOTE gifts packets including lovely letters of support.  It was by far the fastest collection and packing that we have ever done and customs and EL AL ensured that the packages got there as quickly as possible.

The boxes filled with the gift packages were sent to the Chabad Rabbis who have been wonderful and dedicated volunteers for DIVOTE over the years. This incredible team of Rabbis arranged parties for the children in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, Ashkelon and surrounding areas. They explained to the children that the Jewish community of South Africa cared about them and supported them during this difficult time, and this warm message was very well received. Many of the children had their homes destroyed by rockets, or  members of their family had been killed or injured by the constant rocket attacks.

Attached are some of the photographs of the children receiving their gift packages  and it is wonderful to see their happiness with their gifts. Thank you to everyone who gave these very special children so much happiness and comfort which they needed.

I would like to make an appeal for our Chattan and Kallah (bride and groom) gift boxes. We are looking for ONLY NEW gifts such as kitchen utensils (no glass, and nothing too big), dish cloths, oven gloves, linen, cutlery sets, graters, frying pans, towels etc. These are given to couples on their wedding where one or both have been affected by acts of terrorism. These gifts, which help them to equip their new homes,  show them that we wish them Mazeltov and are  sending them love and support at this special time. 

If you have anything to give please can you drop it off at the Durban Jewish Centre for attention DIVOTE, or give Cheryl a call on 083 7996440, or Jess on 083 5576595.Ad


Divote

Cheryl Unterslak

For the first time DIVOTE did a collection and delivery for the children in Israel for Sukkoth, and it was very successful.

The children of Yeshivah College Pre-school and Torah Academy Primary School wanted to do acts of chesed in the month of Elul, so they wrote beautiful letters and bought lovely fun gifts for a group of children who were going through a hard time due to terrorism and poverty.

The appeal was better than we could have dreamed of and DIVOTE had to purchase bigger bags to fit all the wonderful gifts inside!

Our DIVOTE volunteer Riki delivered these parcels full of happiness and the children LOVED everything!! There was huge excitement and the children and parents were all very happy and very grateful for the love and support that comes with the gifts!

A huge thank you to Yeshivah College Pre-primary and Torah Academy Primary!

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DIVOTE

Cheryl Unterslak

DIVOTE gave the children at Yeshivah College Primary and Torah Academy Primary the opportunity to perform acts of chesed in the month of Elul and they collected the most magnificent toys, clothing and stationery for some of the children in Israel who have suffered as a result of acts of terrorism as well as dealing with other challenges such as poverty. The gifts were packed into very large gift packets and had cards attached wishing the children Sukkoth Sameach.

The children were overjoyed with their gifts and their parents were also very grateful. Most of them said that there were so many gifts that they would put a few aside for Chanukah.

This was a very successful appeal which took their minds off their problems and showed them that Am Yisrael cares about them.

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Divote

Cheryl Unterslak

This month I have submitted more photos of children with their new Yomtov outfits because there are literally hundreds of children who received gifts and everyone can see the happiness and comfort these DIVOTE gift packets bring them.

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Divote

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in the DIVOTE Yomtov clothing appeal. The appeal was a huge success and DIVOTE managed to distribute just over three hundred gorgeous new outfits to some very special children in Israel. Every single child was so happy and excited when I went to deliver the clothing to them in their homes. It is an incredible experience to see children so grateful and happy to have something new to wear for the chagim. The children were overjoyed and some were jumping up and down with excitement to receive new underwear and socks!!

I received many hugs and kisses and thank yous. Some of the families also received food vouchers for the Chagim from DIVOTE. It was wonderful to be able to see such happiness all day every day.

I have special memories and many photos and letters to distribute to many schools , organizations and individuals which I will be working on now.

I am extremely grateful to everyone for their generosity and support for these children who have been affected by terrorism and poverty. They did a huge mitzvah for these children giving them so much dignity and happiness while they celebrated Rosh Hashanah. Many families sent brochas for a good year and I would like to join them in wishing you all a Shana Tova.

Cheryl Unterslak

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Divote

DIVOTE has launched the Rosh Hashana clothing appeal for this year. This very special and successful project ensures that many of the children that DIVOTE is dealing with because their lives have somehow been affected by terrorism can have the dignity and happiness of wearing something smart for the Chagim just like all other children. The children on our list are children who are affected by poverty, and they really appreciate the fact that people in South Africa care about them and made an effort for them.

We are appealing to everyone to please be part of this mitzvah and purchase a new smart Yomtov outfit, (sorry we cannot accept any second hand clothing even if it is in good condition). You can be involved by dropping off an outfit for DIVOTE at the Jewish Club with the age of the child and a note from you, or you can call Cheryl or Jess to get the name and age of a specific child to purchase for.

Notes and photographs for the children are so important and very appreciated, and I encourage everyone to do this. The children love to see who has shown them this kindness and made them so happy. Small children can also draw them pictures.

We also like to give each of the children underwear, socks, pantyhose, jerseys, jackets and pretty hair accessories, as these are really needed by the children.

I you would like to be part of this special mitzvah you can contact me on: cheryl@durbanconsultancy.co.za or on 083 7996440, or Jess on 083 5576595.


DIVOTE

AdJust before Pesach I went to Israel to meet Jewish heroes, to hear their stories and bring them joy, happiness and comfort. I met many of the families who were injured in the last year, and it is extremely sad to see what some of the children have had to cope with. A particularly sad visit was to a fifteen year old girl who has now been in a coma for a year. She is brain damaged and blind since she was injured in the bus station bombing in Jerusalem in 2011. Her beautiful mother and siblings sit with her every day, including her new little sister who was born a few months after she was injured.

I visited a young man who was injured in the same attack. He was severely burnt and his leg was shattered when he tried to kick the packet containing the bomb out of the way to save lives. There has been a huge fundraising campaign around the world and he is now going to America to a specialist who will operate on him giving him the best chance of a better recovery  and hopefully to be able to walk again.

Although I visited many families around the country, I cannot mention them all here, but I want people to know that children and their families are unfortunately still being injured and killed in bombings, shootings, stabbings and stoning, and that the suffering continues.

I was also fortunate to visit some incredible heroes such as a young boy who was severely injured when a rocket landed on his home years ago. His parents were told that if he survived he would be severely brain damaged. I went to his home to deliver his Barmitzvah gift and it was wonderful spending time with this incredible walking miracle!! He is a bright boy who has worked incredibly hard over the years to be able to walk/talk etc again. He is paralysed on the right side of his body but he now attends a regular school, can ride a bicycle and has the most positive and sunny personality. He is one of my heroes.

The photographs are of some of the Bar and Batmitzvot who were given gifts from children in South Africa by the Roome family (ex Dbn), who are regular, “divotees”.