Some 30 students from the village’s residential facility took time out from their Bagrut studies to put heart and soul into the holiday and pay tribute to the traditional WIZO principles of community contribution, social equality and Zionism. To this end, they invited the elderly residents of a local third age home to a home-cooked gala meal. WIZO supported them by recruiting four prominent chefs from well-known Israeli restaurants: Eyal Lavi, Leon Alkalai, Roy Gershon and David Ivri, all of whom offered their services on a volunteer basis.
The chefs arrived at the youth village with all the raw materials necessary to prepare this special Shavuot “white meal” – based on a selection of cheeses – and offered their expertise to help the students prepare delicious dishes for the enjoyment of their guests.
The elderly guests were delighted to receive the invitation and sample the menu prepared especially for them by the professional chefs and students together, and they thoroughly enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere and indulgence of the occasion. One lady said this was the first time for many years that she was not celebrating the holiday alone.
Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of World WIZO Executive, thanked the students for their community activity and told them WIZO was proud of them and of all youth villages where youngsters acquire a study ethic and above all learn to be good citizens, with responsibility and sensitivity towards society. “The educational approach at WIZO’s youth villages imparts values and enables students to stand on their own feet, producing future generations of youngsters who will make contributions to society. We may feel both pride and pleasure in their achievements.”
Moshe Toledo, Director of the Bulgarian Third Age Home, said that “his residents greatly enjoyed the food and the culinary production for Shavuot with leading chefs and the Nachlat Yehuda students, savored the flavors and aromas of the cooking and were impressed with the warm reception and celebratory atmosphere.” Mr. Toledo applauded the underlying principle of giving which enables anyone and everyone to contribute to social causes, open their heart, involve themselves hands on and play a meaningful role in enhancing the quality of Israeli society.
Chef Eyal Lavi, who was responsible for bringing in all the chefs on a volunteer basis, found the event exciting: “We are glad to have the opportunity to take part in this project, bringing pleasure both to the youngsters who live in a youth village far from their homes, and to the elderly population who were able to enjoy a happy social event and a really good meal.”
Like It Used to Be
The students further marked the holiday by staging an all-white fashion production, designed to raise awareness among young people around the country of the high level of education they enjoy in WIZO residential facilities that offer a safety net to thousands of youngsters. The event offered a brief glimpse of life in the lively youth village with its social life, studies, Zionist values and love of the country.
Participants in the fashion show also included leading actresses and models, such as Yaara Benbenishti (from the new TV series Fauda), Hila Harosh (from the prizewinning series Zaguri Empire), and several singers.
The youth village students were able to take time out from their usual routine of studies, exams, Facebook and collecting eggs from the chicken coops to become models for a day and be photographed among the animals and agricultural installations.
WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village comprises 430 students, of whom 200 are residential. They come from all parts of Israel and are taught agricultural work, Zionism and volunteering for the community alongside the standard study curriculum. The 7th-12th graders live a full village life, including caring for animals, farm work and making social contributions, all while studying towards their Bagrut exams. The village also boasts a well known song and dance troupe with a reputation for professional level performances throughout the country and for various Jewish communities overseas.
The students also participate in the International "Ot Hanoar" program, which encourages youngsters to become involved and contribute to society.
Pnina Gefen, Director of Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village, explains that the academic and social atmosphere at the village goes a long way towards helping students fulfill their potential and achieve their ambitions. “The special Shavuot activities further reinforce the exceptional nature of this place and we invite all youngsters around the country to visit us here.”