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The Light Within

As DROR is deep into another year of empowering girls through educational assistance and sports, we take a step back and reflect on where we started and what we are accomplishing.We started our programming through the warm support of Gar’in Yachad, where with Yael Sadan (who taught both Rikki and Racheli, z’l) and Rinat Gesner we were able to give the girls in Noga and Gila private tutoring, psycho didactic evaluations and sports classes. Yael and Rinat had the constant contact with the girls that was imperative to the success of our program.

When both Yael and Rinat moved from Beit Shemesh in the summer of 2014, we joined forces with the Azrieli Foundation, and increased the hours of tutoring help and the number of girls receiving our services. Under Malachi Gazit’s tutelage, and the day-to-day overseeing of Naama Cohen of Gila and Pini Yarchi of Noga, we joined with Azrieli in the educational programming, while adding in sports classes, and psycho didactic evaluations when needed. This year, we felt ready to embark on our own. Under the oversight of Debralee Goldman and Adi Van Dyke, we have expanded and are now in three schools – Amit Noga, Amit Shachar and Ulpanat Gila. We are providing our girls with weekly targeted tutoring help and hip-hop classes, monthly events with fantastic themes, and evaluations where needed. Our tutors have been handpicked as role models for the girls, all on their way to exciting futures in their fields of choice. They are building deep connections with our girls that we hope will last for life.

For the first time since our inception, this past summer we provided a camp experience for our girls. The goals of the two-week program were all about empowerment, through building connections with their peers and counsellors, volunteering and pushing themselves past their limits. The girls were introduced to challenges they had never before encountered. They prepared for their volunteer days – they baked stunning, delicious croissants under the tutelage of a professional baker, for their hospital visit, built beautiful challenges for the fair for the handicapped school. Their investments of time and energy came back to them in spades; they actually glowed when volunteering, and telling about it afterward.

The girls discovered inner strengths they never knew they had. Each had different challenges to overcome – while a couple of girls scaled the rock wall in seconds, others had to be cajoled and cheered every step of the way. Some were terrified of heights, others of the hospital visit, or of making a fool of themselves the first time they held a tennis racket or tried a downward dog in yoga.At our concluding barbeque we sat in a large circle and each girl told what her favourite day was. Bar none, it was the day each girl overcame the biggest challenge presented to her. Admittedly, for most of the girls it was something in extreme sports – be it flying on the longest zip line in Israel, or climbing high up on the rope walk. Others overcame other fears. One story that touched me deep inside is of our camper who was terrified to go to the hospital, and swore she was not going under any circumstances, and somehow, with the loving support of her friends and counsellors, got there. At our closing barbeque, she shared that the hospital visit was her favourite event.At our barbeque, we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Asael Shabo, survivor of a horrific terrorist attack in Atzmona, who has risen from physical and emotional devastation to become a wheelchair basketball and swimming medallist. Asael shared with the girls that by its nature, it is never easy to overcome a challenge. Yet, there is also nothing sweeter in the world than beating our expectations of ourselves. He invited us to a basketball game, which everyone greatly enjoyed. Asael has become a good friend of DROR, and has been so kind to procure tickets for the girls to the upcoming basketball finals! We are so happy to be surrounding our girls with inspirational people, who remind them always that their limits are as low or high as they declare them to be.With our fantastic team of Adi, Debralee and Michaela, our inspirational tutors and camp counsellors, and the girls’ teachers and school guidance counsellors, we are providing the girls with the warm, supportive connections that will have them believing in themselves the way we believe in them.

Our coming event is planned for Chanukah. It is called ‘The Light Within’. DROR, founded in memory of my beautiful girls, Rikki and Racheli, z’l, seems has taken on a life, and a light, of its own. We are only able to do this through the warm, incredibly generous, support of the community and we look forward to continue building DROR with you.May every DROR girl, as well as everyone who is inspired by our girls, find their inner light, and glow.Our deepest wishes for a peaceful, light-filled Chanukah for all.

Sima Menora

Executive Director, DROR

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