To 12-year-old Shirel Feingold-Studnik of Germany it was obvious that she would be donating some of her bat mitzvah gifts to Israeli children. Shirel, the daughter of WIZO Berlin, Germany board member Shoshi, knew from the outset that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps and make a donation to a WIZO project in Israel. “I suggested various projects that would benefit from a donation,” explains Shirel’s mother Shoshi. “They included a residential facility for at-risk youth, the Warm Home for Girls project – but Shirel knew that she wanted to contribute something to young day care center children, because according to her: ‘when you invest in a child at a young age you can make an impact on his life and help him become successful later.’”
Born in Berlin, Shoshi Feingold-Studnik and her sister were sent to Israel together in their youth in order to receive a Jewish education. It was in those early years that she became involved with WIZO. She and her sister studied at a boarding school at WIZO Hadassim Youth Village, which was where she spent a couple of years. On her return to Germany she later joined WIZO Berlin and for many years now has been an active supporter of Israel.
The WIZO day care center in Rishon LeZion’s Eliahu neighborhood, which cares for 60 young children, was selected for Shirel’s donation. The neighborhood is home to a large proportion of Ethiopian immigrants, many of whose children attend the day care center. Some are from severely disadvantaged families or are children at risk.
Liora Marco, head teacher at the day care center, describes the building as 30 years old, run down and unsuitable for small children. Thanks to Shirel’s generous donation, it has now been entirely renovated and the children are able to enjoy a rebuilt playground with all-new installations!
“The center provides so much warmth and love for these children and we are really pleased to see them playing in their safe new playground”, says Liora enthusiastically. “Seeing them so happy is truly heartwarming. The parents thank us constantly and the staff arrive at work every day with renewed energy and motivation. We definitely feel that we are doing the right thing.”
Shoshi and her family came to Israel for the WIZO Annual General Meeting, which was attended by 200 Jewish community leaders from 25 countries, who head WIZO Federations worldwide.
The German family will remain in Israel for a few months to give Shirel that same sense of belonging as her mother and allow her to study Hebrew and get to know Israeli children.
A moving ceremony took place last week to honor the bat mitzvah girl and her unique gift.