One of the many successful programs of the Southeast consortium Partnership with Hadera-Erion, Israel, is the annual Teen Exchange Tikkun Olam program. This summer, two Richmond teens joined participants from Hadera-Erion and Jacksonville, Fla.; and Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tenn. (Pictured here is Anna-Fleur and her host Shani Waldman).
Anna-Fleur Farnsworth, a rising sophomore at James River High School in Chesterfield County, attends Congregation Or Ami and has been a member of its youth group – NFTY and OATY. She also has been a counselor-in-training at the Federation-sponsored Camp Sababa and volunteers at Camp Ganim at the Weinstein JCC. Riley Wilkinson (see picture below of Riley with her host Shira Rom), a rising junior at Atlee High School in Hanover County, also at-tends Or Ami and is a member of its youth groups where she is the Social Action vice president. She also volunteers with Richmonders Involved in Strengthening Communities and plays volleyball. Hadera-Erion is about 28 miles north of Tel Aviv.
While in Israel, the group participated in Tikkun Olam projects around the Hadera region, toured Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and experienced Masada and the Dead Sea. This included a visit to Neve Michael Children Village, located in Pardes Hanna that serves 250 children, ages 4-18 years old, from all over Israel who were brought to their doorstep at a tender age and under traumatic circumstances. Neve Michael is the only multidisciplinary children’s home in Israel. Besides providing refuge and a loving home for the youth, it is the first Teenage Girls’ Crisis Center in Israel, has an elementary school on the premises, Day Care facilities and a Crisis Center and Therapy Counseling Unit, which helps keep families at risk intact, even under the most trying circumstances. They also participated in programs at the ecological greenhouse in Ein-Shemer, toured the Baha Gardens in Haifa, and visited many more sites in Israel.
On Aug. 3-17 Richmond will host four of the Israeli teens who participated. During their time in Richmond they will participate as counselors in Camp Sababa and tour Richmond with day trips to Williamsburg and Washington, D.C. They also will volunteer at local nonprofits around the area and enjoy much that Richmond has to offer.
The purpose of the program is to provide a cultural exchange between local teens and Israeli teens, allowing them to explore their connection to each other while providing community service.
For more information about the Teen Exchange Tikkun Olam program and other Partnership Programs, contact Doni Fogel at DFogel@JewishRichmond.org or 804-545-8626.