The success of Yad L'Achim's big-brother program, launched half a year ago to give boys and girls rescued from Arab villages a personal mentor, has exceeded the most optimistic expectations.
Before Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, the mentors met with the youngsters and gave them each a Chanukiyah and candles. In addition, they discretely handed money to their mothers, who were then able to give their children Chanukah gelt, just like "regular" parents.
In their weekly meetings, the mentors prepared the youngsters for Chanukah, teaching them the holiday's laws and customs. For many of these children, those who were rescued in the past year, this was their first Chanukah; previously, they lived as Arabs in Arab towns.
The mothers were particularly grateful that many of the mentors chose to spend their weekly session during Chanukah at their mentees homes. They lit candles with the family, sang songs and filled the home with the light and joy of the holiday.
The mentoring program, which began in Beersheva, where the need is the greatest, has been expanded to additional cities. Today, the program is being run in Sderot, Upper Nazareth and Netanya. Yad L'Achim is recruiting new mentors, both male and female, in the hope of being able to provide all rescued children with a positive role model who can accompany them on their journey back to Judaism.